Comments: Obama, Miracle on the Hudson and a Society of Collaborative Excellence

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John A.  , Weston MA   01/25/09
Miracles and wolves: Dear Jim: Thanks for your good article about hope and other important things. You're right about the gift to us, to the mediation field, to America and to the world that this man represents. As he says, "It's in my DNA" to get people to sit down and talk to each other. Having such a person at the top will benefit all of us, in many ways. I now carry the following brief story in my wallet, from last Thursday's NY Times about the first church service President Obama attended. "For the first time, the main sermon was delivered by a woman, the Rev Sharon Watkins.... She related an oft-told Cherokee tale about a grandfather who explains to his grandson that within every person are two wolves fighting--one the wolf of anger, resentment and fear, the other of compassion, hope and love. The grandson asks which wolf wins, and the grandfather answers, 'The one you feed.'" Keep doing what you do and writing what you write. Cheers, John

Jim Melamed, Eugene OR   01/21/09
Should Be Impartial and Neutral?
Recognizing that important hallmarks of mediation practice are impartiality and neutrality, I am not sure that this translates into a helpful expectation that a mediation advocacy web site should be impartial and neutral.

The purpose of is not to somehow mimic the mediation process or expected individual mediator behavior, but to be a vigorous catalyst for the growth and adoption of mediation, negotiation, collaboration and excellence in problem solving. Any submitted quality article relevant to these topics will be published.

A similar issue came up during the primaries relative to Obama more purposefully suggesting sitting down with our enemies and also relative to our reporting on Obama's use of language, his speech on race and his leadership qualities. Many articles and blog postings were made noting Obama's collaborative qualities and focus on problem solving excellence. also published some rather excellent articles comparing the leadership styles of the leading candidates and I promise you that we would have been ever so pleased to publish anything meaningful from the Bush administration, the McCain campaign or any other Republican perspective. We simply have not received any such submissions, and I am not sure they exist. We have just lived through the 'non-negotiable' administration and I just don't know that they had a meaningful focus on negotiation, mediation and collaborative problem solving (to state to obvious).

I do agree that there is a legitimate (business) issue as to the environment that creates as a context for our many features, including the Directory. So I do understand that some professionals may, for whatever reason, choose to not be affiliated with a web site that allows authors to engage in vigorous advocacy and colorful dialogue. Rather than filter these important conversations out, we see it as our duty and joy to most capably stimulate and share such ideas.

Thanks to all for your comments and perspectives.

Alan Gross, Pocono Pines PA     01/21/09
Obama's relevance to this site?
Yes, Elizabeth, Jim's enthusiasm,and to borrow a campaign slogan,hope for positive change, may have pushed him beyond boundaries that you believe are appropriate for this site. But Jim did at least mention collaboration and connectiveness, two qualities that many of us mediators promote. More germane to many of our interests as citizens AND mediators is the considerable mediator-like rhetoric that marks Obama's speeches and writings. I, for one, was undecided early in the recent presidential campaign until I read Audacity of Hope. As a mediator and peace-maker what impressed me most were the passages in Audacity that preached the value of listening to and understanding those who have different views and values. Instead of surrounding himself with like minded yes-people as so many other leaders have done,he has appointed some independent and diverse thinkers to his advisory group. So Elizabeth, as a mediator, admittedly a strong partisan for Obama, I believe that we now have a leader who holds many values similar to those of our profession and that should yield positive dividends for us, our country and our world. And is one place where we can celebrate this potential and to consider how to help the new administration convert the rhetoric to effective practice.

Elizabeth , San Francisco   01/21/09
This is No Place for Political Views's enough to make me not renew my membership on this website. No political views, mine or yours should be posted on this website!

Mr. , San Francisco CA     01/21/09
Get Your Own
RE: I can not help thinking of Obama as our pilot, the world’s pilot. Get your own pilot.

Kevin Forrester, Encinitas CA     01/18/09
. . . the last best hope of man on earth.
Thank you, Jim, for your comments. While I do not yet share your adulation for president-elect Obama, I do sincerely hope that he succeeds as president far beyond both your and my expectations. I also look forward to Wednesday morning when the presidential career of Mr. Obama will begin, and the relentless, vicious attacks upon our president and our Country will end. Mr. Obama will become president on Tuesday not in spite of what this Country stands for, but because of what this Country stands for. In the words of Ronald Reagan, in speech delivered in 1974: “We cannot escape our destiny, nor should we try to do so. The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia. In the days following World War II, when the economic strength and power of America was all that stood between the world and the return to the dark ages, Pope Pius XII said, ‘The American people have a great genius for splendid and unselfish actions. Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind.’” “We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.” Ronald Wilson Reagan, January 25, 1974

Vickie Pynchon, Los Angeles CA   01/16/09
Appealing to Our HIgher Angels
Thanks for expressing what is on the hearts and minds of so many this morning. I was mediating throughout the news coverage yesterday until 1 a.m. and used what was happening to appeal to the parties' higher interests throughout. I even used the term "appealing to your higher angels" at one point. At one moment of impasse, Plaintiff's attorney told me he didn't think I was being optimistic enough (at 11 p.m.). I said, "if the pilot could land that plane on the Hudson, I can get you the $X more dollars that you want." That's the great thing about the communities we create - in a national election; on the wings of a downed aircraft and in the confines of a mediation room as the clock ticks into the early morning hours - a sense of can-do camaraderie emerges that can be used for good. The world is dual natured. We only have to LEAN toward the light.