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Quotable, Curious and Fun

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Contact: Ian Szlazak
Resolution House Inc.
71 Rideau Terrace
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  K1M 2A2
Tel: 613 746-9679
Fax: 613 746-6637

Quotable, Curious and Fun

Being a third party can be lonely at times. Occasionally, one confers with colleagues and meets others at conferences, but in between there are a quite a few tough, sometimes frustrating moments. Some support can be obtained from those who share the same philosophy and those who have come before in this field. And of course, there is room, if not a need, for some humour and fun. What follows are a few thoughts — if you are not inspired, at least enjoy yourself!

. . .

Ian Szlazak colour photo

ADR — Seeds of Change for Macro-Disputing

We have thought of peace as passive
and war as the active way of living.
The opposite is true.
War is not the most strenuous life.
It is a kind of rest cure compared
to the task of reconciling our differences.
From War to Peace is not from the strenuous
to the easy existence.
It is from the futile to the effective,
from the stagnant to the active,
from the destructive to the creative way of life....
The world will be regenerated by the people
who rise above these passive ways
and heroically seek by whatever hardship,
by whatever toil
the methods by which people can agree.
- Mary Parker Follett

What would Mary Parker Follett think of the current conflicts boiling over at various points on the globe? It seems to us that mankind should not have to continually relive wars and historical mistakes simply because of a poor collective memory. How about a fundamental shift in thinking? In an ever-smaller world, peaceful co-existence is not only a worthy goal, but the only real option. But how to get there? Global politicians at the green table have let us down many times. Perhaps it is time that much more energy be put into more sophisticated and extended efforts at negotiation, led by patient and properly-equipped individuals. There is much room for greater utilization of what may be described as “micro-bridge building”, achieved through more international travel, education and structured joint endeavours, all of which can be designed to facilitate a greater appreciation by more people of other points of view. Funding issues? How many travel exchanges do you think could be accomplished for the cost of one fighter jet? It's a matter of priorities, isn't it?

. . .

Going In Troubled, Coming Out Ahead

Resolution House open door logoAbout the Resolution House trademarked open door logo: if you have a dispute, consider yourself to be located on the welcome mat. Whether you enter or not is your choice — this website is designed to help you decide. Determining what process will best work with which dispute is an important aspect of our DR consultative services. The ten windows symbolize the array of services available — mediation, arbitration, partnering, facilitation, early neutral evaluation, DR consulting, ombudservices, customized training and coaching and various offshoots and hybrids. The foundation stone for the entrance is rock solid, as in the training, background and experience that clients have come to expect from Resolution House. We believe that the combination of new thinking, pragmatism and a DR ethos that emphasizes trust and ethical conduct is reflected in the Resolution House mission statement:

"Questioning the Old Ways, Acknowledging That Which is
Inevitable and Assisting Those Who Are Interested in
Coming Out Ahead"

. . .

We believe that we have a role to play in increasing the understanding of ADR, one person at a time, thereby broadening general knowledge with respect to alternatives in disputing.

Three fourths of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world will disappear if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint.
- Mahatma Ghandi
To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war.
- Winston Churchill

Ghandi the pacifist and Churchill, who was a leader in times of war, amongst other things, are in agreement. These quotations suggest that they lived experiences and learned lessons which should be heeded by us. Better the problem-solver than the combatant unless it is absolutely clear that there is no alternative. But problem-solving and fighting are not concepts that are necessarily incompatible — reconstructing relationships should be in the background at all times. Disputing, whatever level it is on, is not a process where one takes a step, possibly irreversible, and then figures out what to do next. Rather, the better way is to have a well thought-out plan with loop-backs and alternatives. Where continuous co-existence is obviously desirable, one must never lose sight of how the relationship will be affected by every act or omission. There is a great deal of room for more imaginative use of dispute resolution processes, focusing on understanding the grievances of others, the meaning of history and how perceived interests manifest themselves. Listen to Francis!:

[He] that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovation; and if time, of course, allows things to be worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not allow them to be better, what shall be the end?
- Francis Bacon

ADR without borders...

Whether it be a coffee shop dialogue about a current global macro-conflict or something closer to home, such as dealing with a difficult workplace colleague, fresh thinking can take conflict management and dispute resolution to new and possibly critically important places. Humanity simply cannot afford to think otherwise.

If you give me an egg and I give you an egg, we each have one egg. If you give me an idea and I give you an idea, we each have two ideas.
- West African proverb

So, reader, break the mold! "Get cracking" — think of ideas for addressing your problems differently. Think "outside of the box". Read up and don't talk down. Get professional help at the right time - that's where Resolution House comes in.

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Waxing Poetic

Poems are some of the most memorable collections of words known to man. Like good prose, good poems are economical and yet brimming with meaning. Some say they are an antidote for depression. Here is an example, with emphasis added:

I envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods;

I envy not the beast that takes
His license in the field of time,
Unfetter'd by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;

Nor, what may count itself as blest,
The heart that never plighted troth
But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.

I hold it true, whate'er befall:
I feel it, when I sorrow most:
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

-Lord Tennyson

It might be said that the conciliatory spirit that marks much of alternative/appropriate dispute resolution has a lot in common with Tennyson's love- that is, it is better to try and resolve your dispute through discussion and listening than not to do so, even if one's efforts fail. This is especially true if you are engaged in or facing another process which feels like torture.

Even if you are not all that fond of poetry, you probably can recall hearing or reading some or even knowing a few lines, perhaps from your school days. For example, when Canadians think of war, they invariably think of the Canadian John McCrae's moving poem, "In Flanders Fields":

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Many disputes, while of a different order than The Great War, carry with them a kind of loss that emphasizes not only the need for closure, but the fact that even after the dispute is over, a residue remains. It may be negative or positive in nature, or a complex mix of the two. The knowledge acquired from any dispute is the"tread-wear" on the lives of the parties, sometimes contributing to wisdom which serves them well in the days ahead. These thoughts inspired the following:

"Be Moving Ahead"

In many places, where disputes grow
Between people, row upon row upon row
That scar their souls, from good to bad they stray
The mediator, quietly persisting, enters the fray
Scarce noticed amidst the angst.

You are the Disputants. Short days ago
You lived, embraced, saw the other's face glow
Loved and were loved, and now you will
Be moving ahead.

Mediator! Take up the quarrel between foe
Into their hands hope (s)he will bestow,
Hope for betterment, closure and healing.
Perhaps learning new ways of dealing,
So that they may rest, and in life's flow
Be moving ahead.
- I. Szlazak

Resolution House plaque

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More Favourite Quotations

In our view, there are direct parallels between good leadership and good mediation- just ask Lao-tzu, a 6th-century-B.C. Chinese philosopher:

"…Of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, 'We did it ourselves'".

If swept up in the spite of a dispute, remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson had to say, particularly relevant for those who are disputing in a small community, whether it be real or perceived:

He who has a thousand friends
Has not a friend to spare
While he who has one enemy
Shall meet him everywhere.

And leave a little room for "the inexplicable" in what occurs during the difficult conversations of mediation and other similar interactive processes:

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
- Albert Einstein

Sometimes, it is important to be able to think of a little reminder to guide you through a sticky situation. Have you ever been involved in a altercation, however fleeting, where you have said or done something in a pique of anger, knowing (later, usually) that such behaviour was not the real you? Try memorizing the following saying and using it next time things are headed towards an angry confrontation. And keep on repeating it as you walk away with your head held high:

It is far better to have your own peace of mind
Than to persist in giving others a piece of it.
- Ian Szlazak


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