A Peace Building Process of Reconciliation to address the Cycle of Violence
In 1992, Virginia Swain, Director, Institute for Global Leadership,
went to the United Nations to study the reasons that the Persian
Gulf Resolution passed in the Security Council. In this case, an
armed response seemed totally wrong. After two years of study, she
began a Master's Degree Independent Study thesis project through
Lesley University to explore the theory and practice of coexistence
having a minimum standard for a world safe for difference.
She was also interested in developing a deeper standard —
reconciliation, by creating a Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation
— to contain the anger, fear, and other emotions that lead
to breakdown of communications and to address deep-rooted, intractable
thesis project was conceived and implemented
as a nonviolent response to the Persian Gulf Resolution to develop
political will among members of the United Nations Community and
provide a new kind of leadership in a global economy. It is the hope
that Reconciliation Leaders
could contribute to the Nobel Peace Laureates initiative, The International
Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children
of the World (2001-2010), so that the United Nations and the international
community could become a true peacemaking body, dedicated to serve
it's followers, the world's peoples, by finally abolishing war.
Way to Address the Cycle of Violence
A safe place is created as a
safe place where people can coexist, begin to trust themselves and
each other, and become conscious of unconscious behavior. The need
comes from an understanding of the shadow or unconscious part of
each person and situation where we express our limitations without
our awareness. Reconciliation
Leader and the participants share resources and power,
withdraw projections of the unconscious, and dissipate emotional
reactions in such a way that the outcome of the meeting is owned
by everyone present.
is an untapped potential in emotional and spiritual energy that
can be released for good. A piece of
beautiful Swedish glass, in memory of Dag Hammarskjold, is used
for participants to take turns in speaking as a vehicle where the
emotions can be held to contain their turbulence in a way that is
not alienating to the other. The only one who can speak is the holder
of the Swedish glass. Coexistence and Reconciliation Leaders let
go of their need to control the outcome and lightly guide the process
so that participants have an experience of owning unconscious emotions.
"I" statements are used (rather than blameful statements),
so that participants own their experiences without projecting them
on the others.
Swain wrote in 1996:
Leadership addresses dominators and victims in people and
systems that allow people to share their
gifts in safety, without being invalidated or denigrated. It is
a respectful, fully participatory model, allowing a shared vision
and mission to emerge. Prescriptive processes are given up; being
an expert evolves into having expertise; blaming and evading accountability
evolve into interpersonal competence and personal responsibility;
reacting evolves into responding."
Victimhood and Aggression: Psychological Dynamics, The Center for
Strategic and International Studies has shown in their model two
circles: the inner circle shows the cycle of victimhood while the
outer circle shows the cycle of healing when an intervention takes
Leaders provide an intervention in the cycle of violence
and help provide a way for the victim to mourn, express grief and
accept loss (outer circle). Participants share power by addressing
the victim/perpetrator cycle of violence in people and systems by
creating ground rules as a way to re-humanize the enemy, be accountable
for unconscious inner conflicts and allow people to share their
gifts in safety (without being invalidated or denigrated), in a
respectful, fully participatory process. The process allows a shared
vision to emerge. People have new choices to forgive and negotiate
such a high level of emotions causing people to raise their voices,
scream at, strike and even kill one another, skilled Reconciliaton
Leader provides a useful way for participants
to begin healing from alienating experiences, withdraw their projections
and build relationships across divisions. Participants create ground
rules for themselves that are primarily monitored by facilitators,
but also by participants. A common experience brings people together
naturally where emotions
are contained and released.
is a need for conflict competency: first to clarify what is believed
and valued when it comes to conflict, second to stimulate thinking
about how conflicts in one's life have been managed, and third to
see that resolving conflict in a positive manner will strengthen
all relationships as a conflict management
system for community, institutional, national and global settings.
is a need to learn the impact of cultural differences (including
gender, ethnicity and race) on the dispute resolution process. Because
the effectiveness of various conflict management strategies are
influenced by cultural considerations and differences, we need to
examine the various models for training leaders to intervene in
disputes where cultural differences are a factor.
Leaders serve their followers by facilitating others through
their transformations in a deeply
respectful "I-thou" relationship, rather than one of control
Boulding's Conflict Management Continuum (1) is enhanced by Reconciliation
Leaders working towards the penultimate part of her continuum,
"union." Boulding's view is that we live in a society
that places a high value on dealing with conflict as something that
has to be won. The goal is to vanquish the adversary, or at the
least successful, to threaten (deter) the adversary. Yet we all
know there are other ways of dealing with conflicts. These ways
of managing conflict may be thought of as ranging on a conflict
Leaders help move conflict from the war of extermination
to integration and union, from violence to nonviolence, from destructive
to integrative behavior, from left to right. Limited war, deterrence,
and threat are all on the violent side of the continuum. Noncompliance,
arbitration, mediation, and negotiation lie in a violence-neutral,
middle region. Reconciliation, active cooperation, and integration/union
lie on the positive, nonviolent side.
components of accountability, forgiveness and reconciliation are
essential to the leadership needed for the United Nation's International
Decade of a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of
the World (2001-2010), proposed by all living Nobel Peace Laureates
and began in March 2001 in the United Nations. Otherwise the world
will repeat the suffering and horrors of this century's wars, ethnic
conflict and the use of force as a response to terrorism. The best
of our humanity is desperately needed now.
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) states:
according to Martin Luther King, is the final, large and difficult
step in peacemaking, essential if we are to move into beloved community.
If we fail to nurture a reconciling spirit that listens, forgives
and persists, our protests can become harsh and shrill as we move
from one struggle to the next with deepening anger and frustration.
Rightly enraged at the vast scope of injustice, suffering, greed
and exploitation in the world, we are tempted to externalize evil
as "out there," forgetting our own complicity, our own
shadow (unconscious) side our own need of redemption. Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, writing in The Gulag Archipelago of his experiences
in Soviet prison camps, observed that the line separating good and
evil passes not through states nor between classes, nor between
political parties either but right through every human heart
and through all human hearts. The enemy, the oppressor, the hurtful
person, the "other," is (with his victim) a part of the
whole human family. The cycle of evil and suffering can be broken
when we open ourselves to the grace that enables forgiveness and,
ultimately, reconciliation to take place. To say this does not mask
the real conflict involved in struggling against injustice and oppression,
but it reminds us that at every stage the peacemaker
seeks to overcome evil with good, using means that are consistent
with the aim being sought.
challenge to peacemakers to overcome evil by good (by developing
the work and upgrading skills to provide resources, tools and processes
for Reconciliation Leaders) is essential so that that mediation
and reconciliation services can be provided for the United Nation's
International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for
the Children of the World (2001-2010).
Since 1992, Virginia Swain committed her consulting
practice resources to design and implement a new social development
model in a Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation its core. There have been dozens
of implementations, always in a political context of collaborative
changemaking and peaceful evolution to advance the common good.
(Collins) The conceptual framework for this model comes from my
corporate experience in human resources and decades of experience as
an organizational development consultant (using models that also
apply to national and global challenges), vocational counselor and
integrative leadership coach and trainer.
Swain designed Celebration of the Children of the World: A Model for Building
Global Community™(CCW) for her master's thesis project. CCW was designed to build on the momentum
of 40,000 people from 185 countries assembling at the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED or Earth Summit)
in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. At a vigil of all the world's religions
at the Global Forum, a parallel conference to UNCED, building on a profound
experience of the union that Boulding (1) uses as her penultimate
stage in the Conflict Management Continuum during the all-night
vigil worshiping with thousands in our own traditions. The Dalai
Lama brought us all together in five minutes of the deepest silence
I had ever experienced. At the end of the silence, a sound arose
out of one person and grew so that the sounds of 40,000 people
present grew such that the sounds became one sound. We sang and
danced for joy at meeting one another anew. Strangers became joyful
co-celebrants as we danced the day away.
though there was no dispute in Rio at the Earth Summit, I was struck
by the potential for such communities to transform disputes through
celebration. I began conceptualizing a reconciliation leadership
intervention at the United Nations much like what I had found at the Vigil in Rio as one of nine key
characteristics or competencies of this leadership style. Fifty
celebration artists and a steering committee produced the Celebration
of the Children of the World event after six months of preparation,
by having a vigil and performances by children. To do that, we used
the celebration model to build a holding environment
for the steering committee to contain the emotions, presence and
purpose to bring the various components of the UN community together
as a soul force for building global community. We realized we could hold the space intentionally
for the members of the United Nations community in the event itself
international civil servants, state and non-governmental
actors. In the steering committee, people were able to let go and
find their common humanity- especially useful for post-conflict peacebuilding.
the eve of the Celebration of the Children of the World event there was a dispute
between two of the steering committee members and one of the mutually-agreed
upon ground rules was that "we wouldn't run away from conflict, but
rather be a listening presence for the other no matter how hard
it was". Because of the successful enactment of that ground rule,
one of the parties to the dispute was able to tell the second disputant
that the experience was a positive and life-changing example for
her on how to work through conflict successfully.
Celebration of Children of the World is a new model for building
global community (unpublished Masters Thesis Project, 1993). The
model was inspired by a vigil of the world's religions at the Earth
Summit in June 1992, in Brazil, where people of sovereign nations
came together for a celebratory experience of one human family,
brother and sisterhood. Celebration helps people accept the sufferings
of everyday life by allowing them to relax and let go. Celebration
expresses the true meaning of community as they unite their hearts
through a moment of wonder. The joy of the body and the senses are
linked to the job of the spirit (Vanier, Community and Growth).
Former Secretary-General de Cuellar says there is no more beautiful
profession on earth than to unite humans. Celebration allows an
experience of unity and empowerment by bringing people together
for an experience of joy.
the times that it is not appropriate to celebrate, a
ritual that would commemorate the need to mourn or express another
emotional stage of growth would be available.
(see A Global Liturgy ).
Boulding, Elise. Building a Global Civic Culture.
Steele, David. Healing the Cycle of Violence.