The Future of Mediation

By Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

Ludwigsburg, German Mediation Congress

Dear Colleagues; the future of mediation is to make ourselves redundant by spreading a conflict solution culture at all levels of social organization, enabling people to handle conflicts themselves. There will be counter-forces from professional mediators to monopolize the job and countercounter-forces from others to become ever better, to be ahead. The latter will win.

Model: the health professions.

Incredible gains were made in human health enabling people to take better care of their bodies: protection against contagious diseases through hygiene, washing hands, brushing teeth; keeping fit with adequate food, water, moving-walking –but care with jogging, unnatural, in the direction of a hospital– against the climate through adequate clothing and housing; against sepsis in wounds adequate cleaning: a minimum of health education. More than the complexities of surgery this gave us 25 more years of life.

For children and adolescents: watch the pathogens bringing illness from the outside as micro-organisms and violent encounters, shocks, excessive heat and cold, fire. After that come structural diseases–malignant tumors, cardiovascular, mental disorders–also rooted in the inside, with genetic predispositions. Too little adequate food and exercise; too much smoking, alcohol and other drugs can be handled with some will to get better. Equally important: an overload of stress and strain, problems and conflicts not handled: our task. Physicians have shared with people washing hands and brushing teeth as hygiene; it is our task to share conflict hygiene with everybody.

Nevertheless, what happens when one is 80 something with healthy body and mind? Back to childhood: no shock with environment; above all, do not fall. That will put you in a hospital: they handle broken bones well but may give you new diseases in return, hospitalitis. Again, do not fall.

By and large a very positive story. Welcome to the 80s.

In Norway TRANSCEND, our mediation NGO, is working on conflicts in daily life, the family, at school (also kindergarten), at work. We call it SABONA; in Zulu language, ‘I take you in.’

A 5-year-old girl is crying desperately. Up comes another 5-year-old girl, asking, “Why are you crying?” “I am missing mama, she is not here”. The other girl: “But think of how nice it will be when she fetches you and you are together again!” The crying stops.

What happened? Our advice to K: when there is crying, shouting, fighting, do not scold; tell them to stop, ask what the problem is, then indicate and practice solutions. One solution: think positively. It had arrived at one little girl helping another.

Children learn quickly: we have had small SABONA children at night listening to parents quarreling: “Papa, mama, I think I see a solution”.

What is wrong about adults in addition to Father banging and not only at the table, Mother crying, Children thinking this is normal?

Too many adults want to be right, have Right, winning, not solving. Many live married lives focused on what is wrong with their partners; no good lives. Focus on what is good, build projects on the positive in both, when that is all solid open for soft dialogues on what could be better.

For self-improvement compete with yourself, not with others, for a society of winners and losers. If you learn the positive focus, self-improvement, good relations with equity and harmony, capacity for trauma-conciliation and conflict-solution, you will be amply rewarded with happiness and well-being. Seven Roads to Happiness is the title of my book–in Norwegian.

It’s problematic in Germany where “Das Glück ist wo ich nicht bin“; happiness is where I am not. Challenge that lunacy.

When the end knocks on the door: focus on the good, the wonderful in your beloved who has passed away. So also for yourself: focus on the joys life has offered–being alive is one!–and try to leave good memories, inspiration, behind. The focus is your choice.

We make a jump to IS, Islamic State, and IP, Israel-Palestine.

Opening question to conflict parties: What Middle East, Israel, Palestine, would you like to live in? To get at the goals: follow-ups with mediators asking questions, 1-on-1, one party at a time.

Some answers: Undo the horrors Sykes-Picot did to the Arab world and Islam, undo their colonies Syria and Iraq as states, create a Sunni caliphate modeled on the Ottoman, without Istanbul, and retaliation for the US Coalition killing in Iraq and Syria; for Israel secure and recognized borders; for Palestine the same as a sovereign state.

The method is dialogue, mutual search for acceptable and sustainable solutions. If the parties manage themselves there is a sense of ownership. But very often they do not envisage a New Reality where legitimate goals, human rights compatible, are met, for lack of knowledge and creativity.

A mediator should have both; and propose, never impose, softly, with question marks, in the subjunctive mode, some visions.

For IS and IP from dialogues, based on positive = legitimate:

* Defensive use of military to protect victims of ISIS brutality; clearing the past with an international commission on Sykes-Picot giving England-France a chance to explain and distance themselves; clarifying what a future SIC, State of the Islamic Caliphate, means.

Bombing IS may destroy the present one but 10 new ones will come up. The shadows of history, and their dreams, are very strong. Moreover, beheading 2, 3, 5 is not worse than bombing to death 200.000, 300.000, or 500.000.

* Israel will not get peace through security by conquest, occupation, colonization, but “security through peace” by the 1-2-6-20 formula:

1 sovereign Palestine recognized (Sweden, EU member, just did that);

2 states adding to the 4 June 1967 borders some swaps, Israeli cantons in the West Bank and Palestinian in Israel northwest;

6 states, Israel and neighbors, in a Middle East Community modeled on the EC of January 1,1958;

20 (or so) in an Organization for Security and Cooperation in West Asia modeled on OSCE. Successes built on legitimacy-creativity. Neither pathological anti- nor philo-semitism about “Jews as such”.

The method?

Overcome Dualism-Manicheism-Armageddon with Holism, totalities in space-time with history; Dialectics yin/yang positive and negative; Transcendence, constructive, concrete, creative bridging a both-and giving legitimacy to all, like Israel’s right to exist.

One day this may work whereas US and Israeli killing, close to genocide, never will.

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