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!


A Journey Shared

Last weekend I returned to a place I’d not visited in almost ten years.

Brunton’s Bridge is a glorious spot on the Thompson River in Victoria. It lies about 12 kilometers of dirt road beyond an old and now beautifully renovated/rebuilt mining town called Walhalla.


My partner, Glenn, died at the end of June in 1999 and the last time I had travelled to Brunton’s Bridge was the following December, when members of his family and I camped there overnight to scatter his ashes. He and I had shared life’s journey for 11 years and we’d often gone camping there. It was one of his favourite places to spend time, relaxing in the peaceful bush setting.

Glenn took his own life, so the months afterwards had been very hard for all of us.  We’d have gone with his ashes to Brunton’s Bridge earlier – but none of us had a four wheel drive vehicle, and that rough dirt road had been too muddy and dangerous for our cars until summer arrived that year to dry it out.

As it happened, this was no doubt a good thing. Six months after Glenn’s death we were readier to take that final journey with him.

Here is a poem I wrote at the time: [Read more…]


Dreaming of World Peace

worldpeaceWorld peace .. does that sometimes seem an impossible dream?


We’re all human. We get cranky and annoyed. People irritate us – their actions hurt or anger us. And certain events in our lives lead to feelings of devasting pain, grief or anger.

We’ve all seen the effects of these things, either in our own lives or those of others around us. Depression, illness, substance abuse, violence – the list goes on.

And on a larger scale, deep hurt and anger can infect a household, a community or a nation. The cost of this is immeasurable in terms of human suffering.

But imagine what it might be like if, individually, we could transcend those feelings? What if, one by one, we could somehow find our own peace? And follow that up by reaching out a helping hand to heal the hurt and anger of those around us?

[Read more…]


Evening Seashore

Evening ShoreI drop back
letting the others and their voices
fade ahead of me.
This is not a talking place,
this beach –
I don’t even want
to follow their footsteps.
The sun has gone
But its echo warms my feet
in the rock pools.
I wriggle my toes
in the sand
near intricately
limpet-patterned rocks.
All I can hear is the sea –
even the seagulls are quiet
at this end of the day.
And I bask
in the sensuality
of silence.