Bypassing the Handmaidens and Pimps

(Please note, because of the time that has passed since I wrote this article, it may no longer reflect my current views or the most accurate and complete information available on this subject.)

Dave Pollard has a post up about conflict resolution. After a few paragraphs castigating the ability of the U.S. legal system and its agents to resolve conflicts, he talks about how to resolve peer-to-peer conflicts. It's interesting to me that the examples he gives of conflicts involving opposing worldviews pitted family members against each other (which seems about right for most of the kinds of conflict you mentioned), and yet one conclusion he made was that more carefully chosen communities might help us avoid these conflicts altogether. Indeed, one would like to think that this is the case, but I'm not sure such careful selection can alone overcome the cultural barriers at work, especially when it comes to the dynamics of the modern family (biological and otherwise), and the conflicting motives often driving its members.

I suppose it's worth noting as well that, in my experience, the kind of interest-based resolution approach that Dave mentioned can work for people with extremely opposing worldviews or mismatched frames, it just takes a lot more time and energy than most participants are willing to spend. In other words, in many situations, the desire to end the conflict "one way or another" will outweigh the desire to end it with a mutually satisfactory outcome.

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