President of CDA (Collaborative for Development Action), Inc.
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
Q: You are more impatient then other self-declared peacemakers.
A: I am. (laughs) Let me just tell you a piece of evidence that we found and that was we tended to find and I think this is pretty much a hundred percent but we didn't do real statistical analysis so I don't know for sure, but let me tell you our strong impression when we looked back at it was that you are more apt to hear an international peace worker/practitioner say that peace takes a long time and we learn as much by our mistakes as we learn by our successes and we have to ??? and we have to keep working at it. Then you hear a local person who will be much less patient with that process and much more suspicious of making mistakes and learning about mistakes through mistakes and they will far more likely say you know we can not afford the time that people say it takes.
One impact we found sometimes and it's at least enough to be hint to be cautious of it, was that sometimes when the expert, the international peace practitioner comes into a region where there is a conflict and tells local people that it takes a long time to achieve peace and it is very complicating and a slow business, it allows people in a region to lower their expectations about success and to say this expert knows this and therefore they must be right. So in a way they are not as urgent with getting on with coming to solutions that then just happen quickly. The issue about you know being patient with how long it takes can have all sorts of insidious effects and therefore I just think we ought to wake up every morning on the assumption that we could get it done by tonight if we just work the right way.
Q: Yeah. At the same time you hear people as you mentioned couldn't talk about how it takes longer and especially that funders aren't willing to stay in the game long enough and I don't mean to call it a game but in the peace process long enough for anything to happen?
A: Yeah, well I think that is the other side of my mouth that I want to talk out of, which is to say that there was fairly strong evidence that if you had short term funding that you can't projectize peace. It isn't just done through projects, it is really done through campaigns and momentum and that you need to build across enough of these linkages that I described earlier that does take some time and some staying power to make that happen.
Q: Great. Well, Mary, thank you so much.
A: It's my pleasure.