Pre-Hewlett 2002 Musings:
The chasm –
the place where the language fails,
the place where I want to explore.
How do we assist people to talk, take stock—a self-inventory—and listen?
Hewlett 2002 Friday and Saturday:
Green, Fenton, Kaplan, Wyatt, and Holloway discussed the importance of faith-based systems within their communities; these organizations are engaged in short- and long-term interventions such as developing relationships, trust-building, and re-connecting youth. They all emphasized the important role of trust, listening, and empathy. Additionally, all panelists, joined by Brashear, stressed the need for early creative intervention, kindred spirits, identifying commonalities, skills, and hope.
In our small group discussion, some concerns raised by participants were: misconceptions; presumptions; preparation for unforeseeable, unanticipated events; intractable conflict; unmet human needs; levels of and labels for conflict; interrelatedness between social conditions and social justice; oppressive power; modeling; listening; utilization of the “teachable moment.”
At the United Nations panel, a point that resonated throughout was the necessity for multi-faceted, dynamic, fluid paradigm, which would allow for sustained dialogue and problem solving.
The “After 9/11″ discussion pushed to the forefront the urgent need to make talk work and the realization that it is a process that incorporates partnering and bridge building. Another key point: our different “places” – not just geographical locations – in the grieving process and its impact.
The town meeting conversants highlighted issues related to privilege, linguistic habits, listening, revenge and demonization, fear, the inability of the traumatized.
We were challenged by Deutsch to acknowledge the “rapidity of problems are advancing at a quicker rate than our advances.”
Post-Hewlett 2002 Musings:
The hurtful remnants.
Francois had his backpack confiscated at the United Nations!
A question was posed in one of my groups: To what extent are we overlooking the basics while we’re dealing with metaconflicts? A basic entails achieving commonplaces for understanding, and that means finding the language. Various commenters throughout the conference interjected the phrase “American experience.” One of my group members said: “What do we mean by the “American experience” and for whom? I, too, had been compelled to write: “The American experience hasn’t worked out the talk yet, either!!!” What are the assumptions that inform our “takes” on events?
As practitioners, we may know about the importance of body language, developing relationships, and establishing trust. Yet, we can sit in small groups and position our bodies in such a manner that certain members of the group are excluded or signaled that their contributions are not valued. I keep returning to the issue of voice — Who gets to speak? Who is listening? A questioner at the UN asked about “selective death coverage.” Even in death, some remain unheard. Brashear commented about post-September 11th that “reconstruction has to be as inclusive as the destruction.”
How do we mediate the narratives that have been unheard or misread?
We don’t know how to ensure that all are seated at the table. We need to know how to ensure all the voices are heard. And – we can find out if we work together on both short-term and long-term solutions, listen to each other, take time to reflect and eliminate our individual fears of being wrong. We need to engage in sustained dialogue.