Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Common Ground is Not the Goal

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Common Ground is Not the Goal

While debriefing Narrative 4 circles I facilitate in and beyond Nashville, I often hear people say things like, “This experience reminds me of how much we all have in common. Most of the time, we’re all focused on all our differences, but we just need to remember that we are all more alike than we are different.”

This is a lovely sentiment, and one that may even be true. But it also might not be. While prioritizing the search for common ground has great use, it also runs the risk of assuming we must do this because difference is bad.

Understanding Conflict, part 3: Mediation

Like conflict itself, responding to conflict is complex and multi-faceted. Though likely quite obvious, it is important to note that responding to conflict should be context dependent. The scale, roots, intensity, proximity, etc. all impact how one engages conflict. Dialogue for Peaceful Change (DPC) identifies five main categories of conflict responses: avoidance, accommodation, compromise, control, […]

Understanding Conflict, part 2: The Social Dimension

When considering social conflict, one must surely acknowledge the work of Edward Azar, who put forward the notion of protracted social conflict, defining it as “the prolonged and often violent struggle by communal groups for such basic needs as security, recognition and acceptance, fair access to political institutions an economic participation.” (Qtd. in Ramsbotham, et […]

Understanding Conflict, part 1: The Biological Dimension

Peacebuilding is a multi-faceted endeavor. Numerous activities, players, and approaches make up its practice.[1] Among the many threads composing the fabric of peacebuilding is that of mediation. Colin Craig’s Dialogue for Peaceful Change (DPC) engages this thread of peacebuilding, practicing mediation in Northern Ireland and numerous other countries throughout the world. Having participated in DPC’s […]

Journey through Conflict Workshop, pt. 3

(final part) Potential Pitfalls of ‘Storytelling’ Storytelling is not without pitfalls, however. Aside from the obstacles presented by the term storytelling itself, such a process can have destructive consequences.[1] Especially regarding “one-and-done” encounters, story sharing may actually allow participants to hear just enough of others’ stories to solidify feelings of superiority, increase bigotry, and justify […]

Journey through Conflict Workshop, pt. 2

(continuing…) “I AM” For the “I AM” exercise, the facilitators asked us to spend our first evening reflecting over numerous “I…” statements, such as “I feel…”, “I think…”, “I see…”, “I wonder…”, etc. Included were three “I AM…” statements, giving us chances to touch upon a few important aspects of our perceived core identities. The […]

Journey through Conflict Workshop, pt. 1

Nashville, TN, USA (The next few posts will be sections from my “Conflict Transformation” assessment reflecting over the residential experience in Corrymeela mid-November. Hope you find it worthwhile.) The Journey through Conflict residential experience in Corrymeela guided me into new depths of intrapersonal reflection and interpersonal relationship. Whereas self-reflection and human relationships are paramount in […]

On hiking as metaphor

Belfast, N. Ireland My blog writing has been less than adequate of late, as it has actually been nonexistent. I have been meaning to write a couple of entries, updating you all on the end of the semester here in Belfast and providing insights into both my week-intensive on storytelling at Corrymeela in the north […]

On Conflict Resolution: Toward the Transformation of Conflict

Belfast, N. Ireland To conclude this small series on understanding conflict resolution, I want to move away from just the presentation of different perspectives in the field and offer my personal take on the issues discussed in post three: i.e., the debate between conflict resolution and conflict transformation. WHAT’S THE TELOS? When deciding which terminology […]

On Conflict Resolution: Between Resolution and Transformation

Belfast, N. Ireland Important in understanding conflict resolution is addressing the ongoing debate in the field between the terms resolution and transformation. Advocates of transformation language might suggest that the word resolution contains shortsighted tendencies toward quick-fixes. In my estimation, since the introduction of the term conflict transformation in the 1980s by John Paul Lederach, […]