by Mia Anderson Hinn
Today… listening to Dr. William Zartman and Dr (& Ambassador) Francis Deng and the questions of my colleagues, I could only think about the importance of stories, of myths (personal, cultural, and global), of the beauty of pain, the struggle to create and maintain identity, and the ultimate power of transformative processes…. as vital pathways linking the complexities of conflicts with the ultimate freedom of peace. It starts at the personal level. The concepts of conflict analysis, prevention, and resolution as they were contextualized today and the vital practices of mediation, negotiation, and peaceful conflict transformation are the substance of a new world being possible BUT first…. as peacemakers….. we have to be able to apply these concepts and practices at the micro-level…. right in our own hearts and lives before we can be the creative geniuses that this world so desperately needs.
Dr. Zartman told us that he took a long time to define and describe the enormous task we face (as peacemakers). He talked about the power of fear as a central force in most conflicts. What he didn’t say is that this fear is every bit as powerful as a deterrent to peacemaking (within the peacemakers) as it is in the formation of conflict…. . we cannot be afraid. We have to free ourselves, to be at peace with ourselves, before we can truly help others. Without conflict at the micro-level, we would never have reason to grow and evolve into stronger and healthier beings. It is no different at the macro or metal levels. Conflict is necessary in the evolution of humanity, our communities, our societies, and our world. Peacemaking is about designing processes that either prevent conflict from escalation and manage it through to transformation OR serve to de-escalate conflicts turned violent and move slowly through resolutions and towards transformation. Simple, right? Ready, set, go!