The Secret to Peace is Us

After far too long an absence, I’m inspired to return to the blogosphere by a wonderful TED talk given by William Ury.

As Ury says, “‘the secret to peace is us!”  We are the surrounding community – the other family members, the friends, the allies, the neighbours – all those not directly involved in the conflict itself. And as the ‘third side‘ in any conflict we can play an incredibly constructive role:

Perhaps the most fundamental way in which the third side can help is to remind the parties of what’s really at stake. For the sake of the kids, for the sake of the family, for the sake of the community, for the sake of the future, let’s stop fighting for a moment and start talking.

This resonates very much with my own experience with many groups over the years, as well as with my time working as a family mediator some time ago. And I find myself reflecting again on how solutions to conflict can often be elegantly simple – but incredibly difficult to do!

This ‘third side’ Ury talks about can help. “When angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret“! :) And, as he goes on to explain, the third side helps us ‘go to the balcony’, a metaphor for a place of perspective. It’s about reframing .. or, indeed, moving outside the frame to find creative solutions.

It reminds me of the story of the two sisters who were fighting over a single orange.  At first, the ‘obvious’ solution might have been to cut it in half – but both insisted they needed the whole orange. Only when they stopped fighting over who would get the orange and started talking about why they wanted it, did the best solution emerge.  One wanted a drink of orange juice, the other needed orange peel to make  cake. Both could have the whole orange.

Sometimes the simple answers are hard to find – unless we’re prepared to take a breath, take a break from anger, and go to the balcony.

Akin to Ury’s great opening story about the eighteenth camel! :)

There’s much more to his talk than I’ve covered here – so please listen to it. I’d love to know what you think!

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