"that what is transformative is ultimately beyond the individuals and group, beyond a method, and beyond words."

Dear all, 

The quote in the title of this blog reminds of Jean-Louis' book "What makes us human?"  The quote however is from this article by Lane Arye, a facilitator in an approach called Process Work & Deep Democracy who worked six years in the Balkan (former Yugoslavia) with a colleague on post-war reconciliation and conflict prevention. 

In the article Lane describes the process of healing that can take place within a large community when the community is supported in such a way that expressing strong opinions like accusations and deep emotions becomes eventually helpful. 

As Lane says: "Process Work looks not just for the cause of a problem or how to eradicate it; rather when a problem is unfolded with accuracy and heart, a new way forward is discovered that is often surprising, creative and transformative."

Learning to apply Deep Democracy (DD) methodology in a volatile, charged context like a post-war region, takes years of training. So I'm not going to give here practical suggestions as to how to facilitate this kind of intense process. Reading the well written article with many examples may give you valuable insights though on what is needed for conflict resolution. 

The transformative healing that is described in the article, can come about when people meet on eye level and experience their common (shared) humanity. This kind of meeting happens at the Essence level, as it is called in DD, and according to the founder of DD and Process Work, you can only reach this Essence level when you are willing to access and accept your own emotions, and when you are willing to listen to your opponent, someone you might even see as your enemy or your oppressor. 

In SALT trainings we start by addressing the question "What makes us human?", and in SALT visits we make it our first and foremost purpose to meet on eye level, as humans that share similar fears, hopes and dreams. What I have learned from Process Work/DD is that there are layers in building this connection. Cultivating this deep transformative connection takes a lot of practice that requires noticing and accepting your own inner turmoil, confusion and distress. The more you are able to deal with conflicting thoughts and intense emotions yourself, the more you will be able to allow others to express themselves, even when they bring something controversial or intense to the table.... 

A lifelong learning journey... indeed.... 

If you're interested in learning more about conflict resolution,  this book by Arnold Mindell explains it well. 

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Comment by Birgitta Schomaker on September 29, 2017 at 12:17am

Hi Celicia,
YESSSS, the A of Authenticity!
I will think about your question on tools when working with conflict. One of the things I learned from the DD facilitators is the fact that they prepare themselves for meetings by identifying with ALL roles and positions, looking through the eyes of different people in the group or community. The purpose of this is to learn to be attentive to the needs and viewpoints of minority voices, and not let yourself be seduced to give in to the majority voice.

Comment by Célicia Theys on September 27, 2017 at 7:46pm

Thanks for sharing your deep thoughts Birgitta. This is why I often feel the A in SALT also stands for "Authenticity": connecting to each other and to our shared humanity is also about connecting to the grief, the pain, the conflict, at the "essence level"...

An this takes time, and has many layers as you so rightly put it.

I feel like there are tools in Process Work and Deep Democracy that we could benefit from knowing how to use as SALT facilitators. we have many tools for each step of the process, but dealing with conflict and grief is almost unavoidable when accompanying a group for a long time.

Would you be interested in identifying which tools would be relevant from DD, process work and other magical toolboxes :) ?

you've just inspired me to share some tools I've learned for diving confidently into deep and often disturbing feelings with a group at the upcoming GLF in Uganda, thank you :) ! 

Comment by Malou Laureys on July 12, 2017 at 9:36pm

Hello Birgitta, Thank you for sharing your tip about the book. I already ordered it! :-)


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