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Effective Conversations in American Society: Time for a National Mediation Act

by Jim Melamed
July 2016

Please join Mediate.com in recognizing the importance of most capable conversations and mediation by completing this form supporting a National Mediation Act.

Jim Melamed
Whether it is the current polarized American political discourse, competing views about the importance of “black and blue lives,” or dealing with such fundamental issues as climate change and national security, one wonders what is “the answer?”

While political posturing might suggest that the issues facing American society and the world community are intractable, or that the only possible resolution is one side prevailing over the other, the truth of the matter is that progress and resolution genuinely comes only as the result of one critical phenomenon: capable conversation. While empowering conversations within our respective clans and sides are also important and a part of the empowerment process, it is the complete absence of following capable conversations between the polarized “sides” that is so sorely missing.

Unfortunately, in the current polarized climate, capable conversations simply do not happen on their own. What happens on its own is grandstanding, vitriolic accusations between “us” and “them,” and a rapid fraying of our essential social fabric. This contentiousness and “hate of others” will not cure itself, particularly when our traditional political leaders are perhaps most guilty of riling up the masses.

What we as a society need, to perhaps state the obvious, is a new kind of leadership, one that recognizes that the one and only way that we can capable resolve the many issues facing our society and the world is by supporting both and all sides most effectively “saying their piece” and, as importantly, “listening to the other side.” When these twin abilities of both most capably expressing one’s view and most capably listening are combined in a safe and respectful environment, true progress can and will be made, whether the issues are within our immediate family, our workplace, or our greater national and international communities.

And thus, while we all know that, “Rome was not built in a day,” it is also true that “the longest journey begins with but a single step.” Hence, set against the divisive context that we currently face, our answer for the future has perhaps never been more clear: we as a society need to recommit to the value of most capable conversations. It is only through most capable conversations that we and our planet have a chance of surviving and thriving.

Unfortunately, needed most capable conversations do not happen on their own and will not happen on their own in the current polarized political climate. These conversations, if they are to happen, require leadership and facilitation to ensure that all involved have a full chance to speak and to listen. Decades of mediation work have shown that It is only when each side has the experience of being fully heard that an openness to new solutions and new relations can emerge.

It is thus on these bases that I would like to call for one or both leading U.S. political to consider and adopt a “National Mediation Act.” This Act can in my mind be very simple. It need only state that:

“It is the policy of the United States that, when two or more individuals or entities are in protracted dispute, it is preferable that such disputants actively take part in solution-seeking facilitated conversations through mediation, rather than allow such disputes to remain unresolved or result in unnecessary litigation, costs, contentiousness and violence.”
And so, paradoxically, it is out of our dark politics that there emerges a critical recognition of the opportunity for our country and for the world to “see the light” and fully embrace the importance of most capable conversations and mediation for our national and global survival.

Please join me and Mediate.com in recognizing the importance of most capable conversations and mediation by completing this form supporting a National Mediation Act. We will then be in touch with suggested next steps for making a National Mediation Act a reality. This is the shift in social consciousness, American exceptionalism and American leadership that we and the world now most need. Please join us.

Biography


Jim Melamed co-founded Mediate.com in 1996 and has served as CEO of Mediate.com ever since.  Mediate.com received the American Bar Association's 2010 Institutional Problem Solver Award.

Before Mediate.com, Jim founded The Mediation Center in Eugene, Oregon in 1983 and served as Executive Director of the Academy of Family Mediators (AFM) from 1987 to 1993. Jim was also the first President and Executive Director of the Oregon Mediation Association (1985-86). Jim's undergraduate degree is in in psychology from Stanford University and his law degree is from the University of Oregon.Jim has received the following awards: The Oregon Mediation Association's 2003 Award for Excellence; The Oregon State Bar's 2006 Sidney Lezak Award of Excellence; The Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) 2007 John Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award; and The 2012 Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) "Getting To Yes" Award.



Additional articles by Jim Melamed

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