The Coexistence Initiative
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 ???).
We also believe that there are a wealth of lessons from the tolerance, multi-cultural, anti-bias field that are sitting there waiting to be drawn in to the peace-building field at large. Part of the reason they haven't been systematically drawn in is that there has been something of a tendency within the conflict resolution field to assume that there needs to be a kind of neutrality, that makes perfect sense. If you are a third party helping create or facilitate dialogue, create capacity for dialogue and communication, create capacity for civic building of trust, something for what we might call the conflict resolution tool kit.
One of the messages that is implicit in that is you as a third party are neutral. What has tended to happen is that people make the assumption that the process must be neutral, which gets us to the "park your identity at the door" tendency. We've got to create the neutral common ground. For a certain amount, for historical reasons, this vast set of resources describing how coexistence works, how people of different ethnicities, religious beliefs, etc, how they work together — much of that part of the tool kit — the skillset and the values — is embedded more in the second of the two communities, tolerance and multi-culturalism. We see ourselves as being a bridge between the two because we recognize and know that resource base. We have come largely out of the first of those two communities, conflict management and resolution. We physically stand in one community, but are trained and are aware of this vast resource base in the other community. We see our principle challenge as helping to build bridges to facilitate the sharing of resources, ideas, and ultimately the sharing of values.