I Want to Start a Movement: Be Blessed and Learn Peacemaking
Peacemaking is less about winning and more about finding common ground and shared interests to create opportunity.
I had the extraordinary privilege of taking a course on conflict mediation; it was one of the most eye-opening experiences. The course was taught at a Quaker community center and followed a specific curriculum to teach peacemaking. After the class ended, I went on to use what they taught me to help people make peace amidst various conflicts.
Peacemaking is not about finding the truth. It’s about finding a path forward. It is not about agreeing to believe the same things, and it’s about deciding to move forward in a unified way. Imagine conflict as one person on each end of a field with ample open space in between, with each person presenting their thoughts, feelings, interests, and beliefs. Their beliefs appear so powerful, compelling, and different that they cannot both be true, and through this deliberate dialogue process, the two people come together.
In one mediation I was privy to, one person accused another of stealing. She was sure that the gentleman in question took a prized personal possession, and he was just as adamant that he had not. In another mediation, an employee was sure their supervisor discriminated against them because she was black. The supervisor was adamant that she was trying to give feedback about some work the employee needed to improve. In each of these mediations, the supervisor initiated an agreement to move forward; they were unique to the people involved, and each left happy.
Peacemaking is finding common interests and reaching a common ground between both parties. In peacemaking, both parties may not ‘win’ necessarily, and they may achieve something new and unexpected. The parties in peacemaking are courageous; they agree to go into a room with a mediator and look for help. Peacemaking is hard work but works worthy of working through.
One of the most well know lines from Matthew in the New Testament of the Bible is “blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9) To be blessed is to be happy; to be a peacemaker is to help others find that “path to happiness.
I choose to live in faith that, as people—we want more than anything to be blessed, and I am very honored to be in a role that calls me a peacemaker. I hope you will all be blessed this year and enrich your lives by peacemaking.