Enlisting The 3rd Side

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“If the imagination cannot or does not create a new direction, the will can only move in a circle.” – Michael Yapko, Ph.D.

How much fighting, yelling, postcard writing will it take to get the other side to agree? Is agreement even possible?

In my house, we have a new (somewhat torturous) pass time of flipping back and forth between CNN & Fox News to marvel at the diametrically opposed reporting of current events. Reconciliation looks near impossible.

Bill Ury, American author of Getting to Yes and conflict resolution expert says the secret to achieving peace is the 3rd side. The 3rd side are those committed to standing in community around the disagreement, willing to put their view point aside in order to understand the underlying concerns and despair behind the two positions. The role of the 3rd side is to continuously take the 2 sides to the balcony, focusing their attention on their common-good desires so they can meet at the table and attack the problems rather than each other.

While on the surface things are very troubling and tense, I dare say we are in the midst of updating our species credo. Yes, the optimist in me says if we can hang in there and learn peaceful conflict resolution, that this is the birth of a new cosmology for humanity. If you listen behind the positions to what we are debating, we are collectively dissecting our core beliefs around what is right, just, humane. It’s high time.

Playing fields are changing. In this world conversation, voices are weighing in from all corners of the globe. Through our actions and missteps, I am confident that the most coherent path will make itself obvious to us, hopefully without much further destruction and harm.

In times that call for our activism in the world, it is more vital than ever that we do our inner work by addressing our own fears that make us want to annhilate the opposing viewpoint.  We need to recognize that when this urge arises, that we are feeling deeply threatened. Our job is to attend to that first consciously and compassionately, reminding ourselves who is boss.  And, once we can reclaim our inherent power, it is much easier to have compassion for the other side, which is where Bill Ury says that peace begins….


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