Time Out - 2. Conflict Resolution
I am reminded of an quote from the movie Cool Hand Luke - 'What we have
is a failure to communicate.'
First, some responses to my first Time Out message:
Kabal wrote, as he signed off the list, 'as a non Rotarian member of this
list am sory to be out of it becose never I have been invited to serve as a
but I have been invited to join to its list. So now I see we have hear two
memberships and I di not think to be a second class member it has nothing to
do with PEACE'
Ed Elkin wrote 'Thanks for your timely message. Peacebuilders is a most
valuable resource for all, not just for Rotarians, and I believe it is
certainly appropriate to invite non-Rotarians to send their messages at this
crucial time. Rotarians are a part of a wider society that includes many
varying viewpoints and it is good to know the range of feelings that the
current war is creating ... In fact, I would encourage more people who are
interested in Peacebuilders issues to join Peacebuilders, whether or not
they are Rotarians.'
Roan Carratu, in a long message addressing our axioms, subculture dynamics,
forerunners and intensity, asks 'You mean... shall ths be a Rotary social
club, or a Rotary Peace effort? Aren't there millions of Rotary Club
members in North America? Do you make yourself and this list known to them?
Steve Habib Rose says, 'It seems to me that you are trying to accomplish a
great deal with one list. As I read the above, you are trying to:
o Facilitate communication amongst members of Rotary
o Do outreach and facilitate communication with people outside of Rotary
o Promote specific peace-oriented programs (such as UNESCO's Culture of
He recommends 'Accept the reality that our communication isn't going to be
perfect, that some people are going to leave the list for one reason or
another -- and strive to make our communication as effective as possible.
This alternative has the advantage of challenging us to TRY to build peace
within our own list as a microcosm of our planet.'
Alan Whitton says, '... Sometimes I feel like unsubscribing, but have
resisted doing so in case I miss something that provides some new useful
insight and understanding. This is different from having a discussion live
in a forum or conference setting, where misinterpretations or clarifications
of meanings, when these can be instantly dealt with by the
facilitator/chairperson. Perhaps the basis of the problem is the "written
word" which, without full context, comes across like a skeleton - no flesh
and blood. ... On the internet we seem to be attempting to deal with too
many various issues at the same time, which, for me, is confusing and a
little frustrating. Do we need to be "doing" more and writing less? ...
This evening I attended a tri-club Paul Harris Fellowship Award dinner and I
found that I was more inspired by the stories of what various persons had
achieved. I was not as inspired by what people said. What do they say? Put
your "money" where your mouth is! The world can only be helped by personal
bodily commitment. Talk leads often to frustration.'
Thank you for these comments. One thing that comes to my mind was a
discovery at my meetings in Ottawa on a Culture of Peace (and comes back to
the movie quote above) - there is a culture and communications gap between
business people, civil servants, academics and peace activists. In forming
a National Culture of Peace for Canada Working Group, I recommended having
someone on board with Conflict Resolution skills to help us to overcome our
differences so that we could work together and accomplish our shared goal.
This PeaceBuilders List is exactly the same.
I believe that people active in building peace are their own worst enemies
(reminds me of Steve Sokol's Pogo quote 'we have seen the enemy and it is
us'). An analogy of the 80:20 rule in reverse - Despite the fact that we
agree about the importance of our goal of peace in our communities and world
(the 80% of our like-mindedness), we let the details of each of our own
beliefs keep us from working together effectively (the 20%).
Steve Habib Rose spoke to this when he recommended 'Accept the reality that
our communication isn't going to be perfect, that some people are going to
leave the list for one reason or another -- and strive to make our
communication as effective as possible. This alternative has the advantage
of challenging us to TRY to build peace within our own list as a microcosm
of our planet.' The last sentence deserves a second read, it is so
important. If we can not get our act together here, how can we go very far
in our efforts elsewhere?
Along with this message, I am posting a message that I sent to the list
February 1, 1999 on PeaceBuilders Nettiquette Issues. Unfortunately, the
same comments still apply on the list as they did back in February.
As to the comments received from Members above:
I am sorry Kabal quit and with a parting shot 'I did not think to be a
second class member it has nothing to do with PEACE'. There is no wish to
discriminate between Rotarians and non-Rotarians on this list. There is a
wish for balance, for cross-fertilization of ideas. It would be an
unintended failure of the original purpose to crowd out either group. There
is a wish to work together to achieve the goals. It is unfortunate that
many people who had an interest in these goals have left prematurely.
In response to Roan, it is not the wish to be a Rotary social club - there
is another list server for that; however, it is expected that a fellowship
will occur among people of like mind and this is good (I would put forth:
80% achievement oriented, 20% fellowship oriented for example). Shall this
be a Rotary Peace effort? - so far this is an individual peace effort: as an
association if you will, PeaceBuilders has not taken on any specific
'effort' (maybe it can or cannot in the future; maybe individual members
will get together to collaborate also). The wish was to create a
communication tool to help us as individuals to 'do something' in our
respective community of interest. That might be something with our Rotary
Clubs, or with our Community, or with others. There are 1.2 million
Rotarians world-wide (I do not have the U.S. number with me, but it is the
single largest country of membership). It is important to keep in mind that
Rotary is a significant organization world-wide, with a goal of helping to
advance peace and world understanding. I have advertised the existence of
this list to most of the Rotary world (but there is more that I could do
when I get time).
Allan Whitton is very right to emphasize actual experience over talk alone.
It was a primary wish of this list to 'share experiences'. We want to know
what works, so that we can learn from it and consider doing it. This is why
Members on this list have little time for 'theories' (conspiracy, political,
religeous or otherwise) - they may make interesting reading (if you have
time) but do not add significant value right now, and those who wish to read
about them can search elsewhere (or if someone wishes to start a new list
dedicated to theories). Here I am following Steve Habib Rose's advice that
'maybe we are trying to do too much and we need to refocus and/or have
separate lists for separate objectives' (I have paraphrased).
So: we all want to advance Peace, we all have our different points of view,
I hope we all see the merits in a list like PeaceBuilders, and I hope we
agree on Steve Habib Rose's comment 'Accept the reality that our
communication isn't going to be perfect, that some people are going to leave
the list for one reason or another -- and strive to make our communication
as effective as possible. This alternative has the advantage of challenging
us to TRY to build peace within our own list as a microcosm of our planet.'
Where do we go from here?
I will follow up on this important question in a later message. Comments
Bob Stewart, List Moderator
Okotoks, Alberta, Canada
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