How do we humans deal with the conflicts that spin out of human relationships? How do we maintain peace and order?
Well, down through the ages there’s been a man’s way and a woman’s way and a spiritual seeker’s way.
- Men like to make rules of good behavior and then punish and maybe isolate those who break the rules.
- Women like to talk and share feelings and empathize with each other… and then reach an understanding.
- Spiritual seekers like to detach from the trappings of human relationships and to explore finer, other-worldly relationships through one’s higher self rather than through the carnal body-mind with its five senses.
Most of the diverse peace-keeping tools and techniques used by the many countries, religions, and communities in today’s world seem to have spun out of those first two basic human qualities… the man’s way and the woman’s way… and we’ll explore that in a moment, along with the spiritual seeker’s way.
But first let’s look at some possibilities and pitfalls for ITC groups as they try to keep the peace and deal with conflicts among their members.
Men’s way. One extreme approach to peacekeeping in an ITC group would be to devise a detailed, thorough constitution full of rules on how to conduct ITC sessions, how to interact with the media, and how to behave with other members… all with the aim of sustaining resonance within the group. Members who habitually break the rules are first reminded, then warned, then moved to provisional status. This male approach would be tedious, punitive, and full of loopholes (kind of like litigation and Sharia, described below).
Women’s way. Another extreme approach would be to urge everyone to be in frequent communication with each other through chat rooms and videoconferences, talking through issues, plans, and projects… venting everyone’s feelings and listening with genuine empathy… and reaching some sort of general agreement. This female approach would be time-consuming, energy-intensive, and generally exhausting… like doing a lot of conciliation and mediation on a continual basis.
Spiritual seeker’s way. A third extreme approach would involve all members meditating and praying and doing other inner work in the course of ITC research, with minimal interaction among members. This spiritual approach tries to ignore the fact that an ITC group is a worldly institution held together by conscious, interacting human beings.
So let’s look at better possibilities for minimizing and resolving conflicts within an ITC group, which will involve finding some kind of middle ground between the man’s way, the woman’s way, and the spiritual seeker’s way… that employs the best of all three realities.
Instead of relying only on rules or on empathetic dialog or on inner work, an ITC group could have…
- a personal workspace where each member can do inner work as needed,
- facilitators who are well versed in reflective listening, or empathetic communication,
- a detailed mission statement that clearly spells out the basic values and goals of the group… the structure and function of the group as a worldly institution… and this mission statement would be used instead of a complex set of laws and rules… and
- a comprehensive spirit world model or cosmology that explains in some detail the spirit worlds and spirit communities, especially those inhabited by our transpartners.
By the time a member becomes an operative (having gone through the 3-month-or-longer period of basic training as a provisional in the private workspace), he or she should have 1) learned those inner-work skills, 2) become familiar with talking to a reflective listener, and 3) assimilated at a personal level the ITC group’s values and beliefs that are embodied in the mission statement and afterlife model.
Then, when conflicts develop among members, facilitators go through sessions of reflective listening with each member involved in the conflicts, referring to the group values and beliefs and the importance of inner work, and reminding members to revisit their private workspaces, as necessary.
If conflicts among the same members continue, the facilitators can reclassify them as provisionals as further encouragement to take advantage of their private workspaces.
Through that process, hopefully, problems are solved, resonance is sustained, and the contact field remains clear and vital… as each member decides whether he or she really wants to be a committed part of this ITC group and, if so, to do the necessary work.
Okay, so now let’s compare that to how conflicts are resolved in the big social groups that are spread around the world today.
Western culture generally relies on four main processes for conflict resolution, listed here (I believe) from the most masculine and punitive to the most feminine and empathetic:
- Litigation. Highly complex systems of laws, or rules, have evolved at various levels of society as a measuring stick for human behavior. Highly trained lawyers have studied these laws in order to represent two disputing parties in a formal, highly contentious courtroom environment in which one party will win and the other will lose, as decided by a judge or a jury (group of neutral citizens). Litigation is expensive, slow, emotionally draining, and unpredictable, and punishment can be harsh. The USA is among the most litigious societies today.
- Arbitration. Disputing parties present their cases to an arbitrator or a panel of independent and qualified arbitrators in an adversarial environment. The arbitrator(s) determine the outcome of the case.
- Mediation. A neutral mediator facilitates dialog, step by step, to help parties express their own interests and priorities in order to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. In litigious societies, mediation is sometimes used (in Florida, for example) to resolve disputes peacefully so as not to have to go through the rigors of litigation.
- Conciliation. A conciliator uses negotiation skills to navigate the parties toward an acceptable agreement. Conciliation is less adversarial than arbitration and less structured than mediation, aiming to identify a right that has been violated and to find the optimal solution. Italy is among the countries today whose legal systems are conciliatory by nature.
As lawyers and judges in litigious society accept their laws as the measure of human behavior, religious leaders accept the ancient wisdom of their religions as truth and try to resolve conflicts among their members with principles written in their holy books and teachings.
- Christian leaders resort to the Bible when counselling their followers, especially the teachings of love, mercy, and forgiveness attributed to Jesus.(Read more… )
- Muslim leaders keep the peace in Islamic communities by resorting to Sharia law (e.g. removing the arm of a thief or stoning an adulterer to death) and other, gentler teachings of justice attributed to Muhammad. (Read more here… and here… )
- Jewish leaders resort to the Talmud, a compendium of teachings and interpretations by ancient Jewish scholars, often striving for “the golden mean,” or the point of acceptable compromise between conflicting parties. (Read more… )
- Buddhists resort to Buddhist principles such as karma and inner exploration in the quest to resolve conflicts. (Read more… )
- Hinduism (like Buddhism) approaches conflict resolution from an inward-looking angle, emphasizing sacrifice, Dharmic obligations and self denial.(Read more… )
ITC groups today are in a position to pick and choose among the best of these time-proven methods of handling conflict… which is what I’ve tried to do with this page of the website template.
— Mark Macy, posted 2016 September 9