Adapted from an address to the annual conference of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand in July 2015. A revised version of a keynote address given to the annual conference of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand in July 2015. Recently published as a blog by International Academy of Mediators.
There is danger when speaking in generalities as if one had access to some sort of universal truth. What I say here is a reflection of how I see things. I’ll pose questions and not answer many of them, and may not even coherently join up all the dots. In a sense, however, that is being true to our mediator calling; I invite you to make links with your own work or field, and ponder your own conclusions. Not everything will apply to, or work for, everybody.
For me, the really interesting question is this: Can we take what we know as mediators and turn it into practical steps for making the world – or at least our part of it – a better place?
As mediators, we have the understanding and experience to bring competence to collaboration and to turn rhetoric into real action. Perhaps together we can begin (or continue) a process leading to some sort of an action plan, or prospectus, if you like.
Let me begin with a number of questions:
For an increasing number of people, there is only one response to these questions. And that is this: Things are not as they should be, not as they need to be in the future, indeed not as they need to be right now. We need to act, to do something different. To change, to shift the paradigms. . . .
For some people, I know, this is all nonsense, fantasy, intellectual claptrap. Resistance is a natural reaction. I recognise and respect that, but don’t have the time or the energy to seek to persuade you. All I can ask is that you examine your assumptions.
For others, this is all obvious, you already get it. I don’t need to spend time or energy seeking to persuade you, but please help . . . a movement needs people who are prepared to be brave and to take a risk or two.
My focus in Parts 2 and 3 is on the rest of us, that 70-80% in the middle who are not quite sure and can see arguments either way. Or who prefer not to engage because, frankly, it all appears too difficult.
Coming next . . . Part 2: Overcoming Our Inertia and the Status Quo
Part 3: A Call to Arms for Mediators?
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