RE-Juicing the Common Ground with Rowan Duczek
12) Peacekeeping – I make every effort to resolve disputes. I may call for an advocate, friend, independent observer or mediator to be present, and will use and follow the Community’s grievance procedures as necessary.
Of late, I had the opportunity to attend the “Skills for Peacemakers” course in Cluny. It was run by a highly trained outside facilitator, Isabelle Duquesne, who herself had been a member of this community for 11 years during the 1970’s. It was an intense course where we looked at a variety of conflicts, from the inter-personal to the international, practiced mediation skills, looked at case studies, learnt methods of systems analysis and tools for conflict resolution, we even practiced rhetorical skills. It felt like aspects of a Masters Degree in Peace Studies condensed within 5 days. Peace Studies at Research and University level is an ever growing discipline in Europe and elsewhere. I have the highest regard for those who later decide to work in often dangerous conflict areas, as it demands the highest level of discipline, knowledge, skill, courage and integrity.
If I learnt anything, it is the very complexity of conflicts and the necessity of the mediator to do the relevant background work before going into a conflict situation. An attitude of ‘sweetness and light’ and ‘we are all One’ just won’t cut it. I also felt humbled if not embarrassed about the conflicts of personality, values and interests that we experience here in this community, in comparison with ‘out there’ they seem somewhat insignificant. But then, of course, they are not, as our facilitator strongly pointed out. Any conflict situation that we, as a community can move through with creativity and imagination sets a precedent within ‘the Field’ and creates something NEW that others can draw upon.
For me this is the very essence of this centre, to experiment with evolving forms and ideas, whereby our creativity comes forth and is heightened through the very tensions we experience when we move to our ‘boundaries’ and rub shoulders with others (seen or unseen) who hold very different views and perspectives. It is the perfect antidote to combat a kind of ‘lazy self-satisfaction’.
Reading David Spangler’s autobiography, it seems that conflict has always been a part of this place, once the community grew in size. How we handle conflict within ourselves and between each other is what counts!
The Constitution of the NFA specifies the establishment of a group of identified Peacekeepers. Over the years, this function has largely been taken on by the various Listener/Conveners. While this is understandable as it is their role to ‘have the ear to the ground’, it also takes up a lot of their time and energy. It will be interesting to see what – if any – new peacekeeping formation will evolve in relation to the present ‘Change Process’. Will it be an identifiable group of people with special skills from various bodies of this community, or will the various bodies, organisations and businesses have their own internal people to draw upon? Will outside expert training be necessary and advisable?
These are questions to be explored. But the above Guideline also calls each of us individually, which should – in the best of futures – make ‘official’ Peacekeepers obsolete. But, as experience shows, we are not quite there, yet.
I wonder about the possibility of a longer, accredited course in Peace Studies offered here, that draws on the analytical insights from Peace Research worldwide plus the necessary methodology and skills, combined with the spiritual technologies developed here such as attunement, meditation and the Transformation Game. Now, in my mind, that would be real service to the world.