The alternative to extremes is a middle path that moves in-between and walks “the narrow ridge”. An alternative middle path is able to hold “paradoxical curiosity.” This middle path is a soulful, grounded, humble way that takes courage and strength to hold. It is the in-between space where the in-between conversations occur.
Conflict transformation is something more than conflict management or conflict resolution. The goal of conflict transformation, as Ron Kraybill explains, “is not only to end or prevent something bad but also to begin something new and good. Transformation asserts the belief that conflict can be a catalyst for deep-rooted, enduring, positive change in individuals, relationships, and the structures of the human community.”
The work of conflict transformation is not the work of putting Band-Aids on the wounds of conflict, or responding to conflict like a fire fighter. This work is about a way of life and the transformation of our culture to a culture of justpeace.
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The minister, leader, counselor or facilitator does not take security for granted, nor does he or she use theory or theology to substitute for the encounter. The challenge is to be fully present in the “nothing else than process without getting lost in the abyss”
The path also requires letting go of hurt and wrongs inflicted in anxiety and conflict. Like Jacob and Esau, forgiveness and reconciliation are a journey. I will see in the eyes of those that I have been blaming heartaches that look and feel very much like my own. In their struggles, stumbles, failures and celebrations, I see my own.
Audio: Stephanie Anna Hixon, the Executive Director of JustPeace, and Darrel Puls from Peacebridge Ministries speak about ACR Conference 2014 Workshop Session: Rebuilding Harmony in Houses of Worship: Resolving Conflicts in Religious Communities.
Below are some links to articles, videos and stories that JustPeace staff have enjoyed this week. We hope you enjoy them too!
To want to run away is an essence of being human. It transforms any staying through the transfigurations of choice. To think about fleeing from circumstances, from a conflict, marriage, relationship, work, a ministry or congregation is part of the conversation itself and helps us understand the true distilled nature of our own reluctance.
When individuals and groups are aware of the shadow, their own and others, they are more accepting, forgiving, compassionate and loving, acting for justice while having mercy, honor and humility. To change the shape of ourselves is to change the shape of the shadow we carry and cast. To become transparent is to know, accept and relate to one’s shadow appropriately. I have heard people say that we can lose our shadows altogether, but I think to be human is to carry a shadow
Declaring a new dispensation by confession, we see our trespasses against others in a new light, initiated by something we were hiding not only from the world but also from ourselves. Holding the secret was not only a defense against punishment but also a holding back from our next outrageous step. To separate the confusion of punishment with revelation, we first of all confess to ourselves, step onto solid ground in the privacy and spaciousness of our own hearts, minds and moral imaginations and then translate it into the best speech we have to represent it in the world.
Stuck inside a conflict, we may struggle to tally the costs, or we feel like the justification is worth the cost. But intentional work around tallying the cost can be helpful to the minister/leader, the congregation/organization and the family.
I have come to believe that much of our ministry is about the phenomenology of conversation. Our ministry is not only about conflict transformation but about inviting, creating and holding space for emerging conversations toward ministry; deep, active listening not so much advising, coaching and sounding wise; being able to hold ‘not-knowing’ and the courageous questions calmly, non-anxiously; not so much about disconnect as connection; not so much about a narrative of blame as an invitation to responsibility; not as much about the chaff as it is about the wheat and the positive growth and deep roots that are happening. We are about the many wellsprings of conversations, wisdom and insights emerging.