Rey Carr, Chief Executive Officer of Peer Resources, whose mission is to provide high quality training, superior educational resources, and practical consultation to persons who wish to establish or strengthen peer helping, peer support, peer mediation, peer referral, peer education, peer coaching, and mentor programs in schools, universities, communities, and corporations. He has a Ph.D. in metaphysics from the American Institute of Holistic Theology, a Master of Arts Degree in Clinical-School Psychology, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology.
INTERVIEW WITH REY CARR
A Personal Career Path
Gini: Good morning, Rey. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with us. What attracted you to the field of conflict management in the first place?
Rey: My first interest was kindled when I was in high school. I went to a school that was multi-racial and multi-ethnic. I was on the baseball team, and the composition reflected the diversity of the school: blacks, Chicanos, Latinos, and Asian. There were many arguments and disagreements. Hardly a game or practice went by where we weren’t tussling with each other. Sometimes it was playful wrestling, needling, “capping” (put downs about ‘yo mama’ or “playing the nines” (who could top the last put-down). At times these verbal interactions would lead to fighting. We had developed a reputation amongst other schools teams as some tough “hombres.” It didn’t do much for our “win” column in the league standings.
We all wanted to win, but we also didn’t want to lose face, pride, or status. I thought, “There must be a better way.” I can’t recall who came up with it first, but myself and some other team mates learned about “fighting fair” a way to resolve conflicts. We studied it and learned some techniques and practiced them in the locker room, on the field, and during games. I wish I could say we started winning more games, but that didn’t happen. What did happen, though, was that we started spending more time at each other’s houses, having dinner with each other’s families, and generally feeling better about each other. The capping virtually disappeared and was replaced by funny comments, some of which could still be hurtful, but the humor was more important than the sting.
When I went to university and eventually began to study psychology (after other conflicts), I became very interested in how to deal with conflict successfully. In several of the different roles I played while an undergraduate, I was called on to help resolve disputes. I don’t want to portray myself as some type of superior person, since some of those disputes I started, but, for the most part I got pretty good at finding ways to resolve conflicts. Little did I know then that a person could get paid for this.
G: If you knew earlier what you know now, would you still have pursued the same career path?
R: Absolutely. I wouldn’t want to have missed any of the events, activities, circumstances. They all contributed to who I am today. And I’m grateful.
G: What is the best advice that you have been given? And what advice would you give a budding conflict specialist?
R: I think the best advice was more of a perspective. Learning that conflict is a natural element of all systems and peoples. Rather than being feared, shunned, or squashed, it has many positive aspects. It’s a necessary part of growth in society and within individuals as people strive to resolve the personal, organizational tensions that arise and do so creatively and with great inspiration and skill. That’s the advice I would pass on: don’t be fearful of conflict; feel your fears and use them to gain strength.
Conflict Resolution Heroes
G: Do you have a “conflict resolution hero,” and if so, who and why?
R: Jimmy Carter is probably the person I most think of when I consider someone a hero in conflict resolution. He took on (and still takes on) some of the most important issues on the planet with the toughest participants and finds a way to bring them together and talk with each other.
The Biggest Questions
G: What do you think are the big questions to be answered next in the conflict management field? R: To get professional conflict managers/mediators into key government elected positions and put them in charge of foreign relations and domestic security.
G: What is the major ethical issue facing the conflict management field?
R: Finding a way to bring conflict resolution to the community level as a moral obligation. This may not really be an ethical issue, so I’m not sure I can identify anything in this area.
Thrills and Spills
G: What has been your biggest thrill in being a conflict specialist?
R: I can’t say I have one “biggest,” but I have three that have a general highpoint element for me. One, doing what I call “street-level conflict resolution” that is, for example, finding a way to intervene successfully in a dispute between a cyclist and a car driver; an airline flight attendance and a passenger; a grocery clerk and a customer. Second, working as a team member in a conflict resolution team that is engaged in mediation with another conflict resolution team; very challenging, exciting and real. Third, helping friends rehearse or practice how they might resolve a current conflict in their life.
G: What was your biggest mistake?
R: Jumping in with possible solutions prior to really understanding the situation.
G: Any regrets?
R: Absolutely none.
G: Thank you, Rey.