By now most everyone knows about Pres. Trump warning that Hurricane Dorian was heading towards Alabama. The only problem was that it wasn’t doing that. The president then produced an altered weather map to prove his “point”. On this miscue, Chris Cillizza of cnn.com posted (September 5, 2019) “Donald Trump’s Alabama Obsession Reveals a Very Deep Flaw”. The flaw dealt with honesty and integrity. “Trump is so obsessed with being right…that he blocks out any and all other responsibilities or duties as President to pursue that goal.” Does that sound like anyone you know. Ever see someone involved in a dispute with an opponent? They can only see truth from their own side. To be successful at that, they often need to block out all other responsible and meaningful scenarios. Truth becomes a victim. Is it not possible that some truth resides with the other party as well? The answer is surely in the affirmative. If you want to try to find out how that may be possible, try to attain Win-Win. Litigation will not get you there. Mediate don’t litigate. For those who pursue truth, this is the only path one can choose, weather map or not.
Konrad Adenauer was the first Chancellor of what became West Germany. In his long life, Adenauer’s commitment to Germany as a statesman, led to much acclaim. In a public television poll in in 2003, Mr. Adenauer was selected as the greatest German of all time. He was famous for this one quote “We all live under the same sky, but we don’t have the same horizon.”
Why is this mediation post discussing Konrad Adenauer? The answer lies in a column written for the WSJ by Walter Russell Mead on May 21, 2019. (“Palestinians Need to Get Real About Israel”.) Mr. Mead maintains that perhaps it is not a two-State solution that Israel and the Palestinians need but rather a “one state solution”. The author then makes this assertion about the Palestinians:”They need a Konrad Adenauer: a leader who can accept military defeat and painful territorial losses while building a prosperous future through reconciliation with the victors.”
WWhether one agrees with Mr. Mead or not, his statement packs a punch in the context of dispute resolution. We do not always emerge from “battle” with victory. At times, our losses are painful. But to overcome defeat, we must first learn to deal with it. I recently saw a quote to the effect that if we seek to destroy our adversary and attain revenge, we need to dig two graves rather than one. There are losses in life and losses at the bargaining table. At times the justice we crave nevertheless eludes us. Reconciliation with our opponent is not always a possibility. But perhaps in the course of the mediation process we can learn to accept what has befallen us and then make the effort to overcome and move on. Who wants to dig a grave for themself?
I first took a course in mediation in 1995, in Chicago, IL. One of the volunteer trainers who assisted in this course, called me a number of months later. He told me about a very interesting mediation course that had a very reasonable program fee. I asked why this course was so modestly priced. I was informed that the program was under the auspices of the Mennonite group that is centered in Lombard, IL. This group, I learned, has a religious reason for trying to advance information about mediation.
The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center (LMPC) has as its religious mission the desire to encourage “nonviolent transformation” of conflict in homes, workplaces, and houses of worship. Recently I browsed the internet to learn more about the LMPC. I discovered an article that appeared in the Toledo Blade entitled “Mending Fences”. (May 28, 2016). The author, TK Barger, described a lengthy program that the LMPC offered to Midwestern faith leaders. One of the participants, Rev. Deborah Rose, summed up what she gained from the program by saying that she did not attend the program to learn how to be a mediator. This was not the purpose of the program. Rather, she wished to learn new skills that could assist her in her congregational life. Sometimes, it is good to learn a new skill, such as mediation just so one can make proper referrals to professions when such mediation is appropriate.
The purpose of this blog is not to train mediators. There are professional classes for this purpose. I wish to give the religious population a better idea of what mediation entails and relate some of its important principles. It is my hope that the information found here will assist those whose life of faith leads them to the conclusion that litigation is not the solution to all forms of conflict. There is a choice. Mediate don’t litigate.
My name is Martin Rosenfeld, and I am a mediator who lives in Fair Lawn, NJ. This blog is aimed at people of all faiths who share an interest in making their life one that is dedicated to peaceful outcomes. We all try to avoid conflict, but sometimes we find ourselves enmeshed in controversy and discord. As an attorney, I have seen the harmful effects of litigation and confrontation. Fortunately, there are peaceful ways of resolving disputes. One such method is known as mediation.
In this blog, I will provide information about mediation process and strategies we can all use in an attempt to try to avoid conflict. This information will be aimed at those parties whose religious connection makes them attracted to the idea that conflict is not always inevitable. There are ways that this can be avoided, by resort to mediation. It is also my hope that religious leaders will learn a bit about mediation technique so they can employ some of these methods when their congregants face conflict situations such as monetary, claims, family disputes, divorce, etc. In my next post, I will explain a bit about what inspired me to write this blog for those of faith. If anything you read strikes a chord, feel free to write to me at: Rosenfeld@juno.com. You may also call me at: 201.794.4545 if you wish to share any mediation questions with me. (More mediation information may be found at my website: http://www.NJMediationWorks.com).