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Ideas for how to make peace?

Original post made by Anne, Green Acres, on Apr 24, 2007

I've been reading a lot of threads on Town Square, and wondering what helps end conflicts. What helps people make peace with each other? What brings even former warring enemies together? What keeps conflicts going without resolve?

What helps people forgive? Are there proven ways to get everyone to start on a fresh foot?

Are we (the lay public) missing something we already know how to do in Iraq? Are we missing easy opportunities to solve problems here in our town?

Comments (5)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2007 at 10:49 am

This is Palo Alto. For every good idea someone has, there are at least half a dozen people with very good ideas why it won't work. Every time we thin we are getting somewhere on any one issue, someone comes along ready to put a wrench in the works. We have NIMBYs, MI proponents and opponents, bike riders, drivers, parents, residents, citizens, dog walkers, animal rights proponents, environmentalists, all colors, all creeds, all nationalities, all waiting to have their point of view heard and acted upon. What we don't have are those willing to compromise, those willing to see change, those looking for the good of the whole, those wanting to put an end to all this. Anne, I wish you luck as I feel the same as you. The more I have tried to get involved in an issue (and I don't mean here on Town Square), the more problems I see from others. We can't suit everyone which makes for nothing happening in the end. I would like to see progress on some of the pertinent issues here in Palo Alto. Unfortunately, I am now coming to the conclusion that it is a pessimistic reality rather than an optimistic hope that will prevail.

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Posted by Anne
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 25, 2007 at 5:35 pm

It's good that you are involved. Involved is better than people who just don't care.

I attended a talk by friend who went to Nepal last year as a UN translator. I don't pretend to fully understand the conflict, a power struggle with a lot of casualties over many years. Then things changed. The king made way for parliament again. The Maoist rebels rejoined the government. There is tentative peace. Why now? Could this have happened earlier?

What incites people to argue with rising tempers? What helps them stop? Surely if people who were killing can make peace, we can find a better way in our town. What of Iraq? Powerlessness and destitution beget violence. Military-only approaches often fail or drag on endlessly under those conditions. How to change? Intractable conflicts can change on a dime. How? Are there similarities in making peace among non-warring people and warring people? Do people learn this in world studies. I did not have any education like that in school myself.

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Posted by Middle Ground
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2007 at 7:02 am

It's a shame that differing sides can't sit down and talk with a mediator. The mediation doesn't even have to be binding. It's good to have a professional facilitator who understands how to mediate.

School board meetings and city council meetings may have people who disagree, but the meeting set up doesn't allow (and time doesn't permit) for the real diplomatic technique of open dialog with mediation.

Too bad.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2007 at 5:30 pm

The only proven way to make peace is to make war unprofitable and uncomfortable. Or to surrender.

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Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 28, 2007 at 2:18 pm

In reference to Ann's post asking

"What of Iraq? Powerlessness and destitution beget violence. Military-only approaches often fail or drag on endlessly under those conditions"

I have to comment on your assumptions.Iraq is not a military only solution, and the powerlessness is brought on by the very small percentage of those who kill innocent people trying to take away the power of the vote of the majority. Iraqis now have more power, by vote, than they have ever had before.

Talking and mediating etc are great, but as mentioned earlier, can only work between parties that respect the value of mediation. My way or no way does not lend itself to mediation or votes.

So, for me, the huge question do you get people to move toward accepting votes, democracy, compromise when they are intractable? If anybody has good reading on that, please post.

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