President and Founder of Peace-Tech
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
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This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
A: I would say a quality that people should really bring to this work, whether you call it spiritual, I don't care of what you call it, but the ability to go inside yourself and contact that source of power that is beyond your ego, that is universal. You could even say more about energy, than about process, or substance to keep the heart open, the space open for what ever needs to happen. Keep calling in the highest good, to not get caught in the dynamics. Peacebuilders are not particularly trained in system dynamics so they start acting out the dynamics of the system without realizing that is what is going on. Suddenly some one is very angry at so and so on the other side, "He is an obstructionist." What are they doing? They are acting out the system because they are not aware that it is a normal dynamic in systems. We may get triangulated. It is a game, lets you and him fight; I don't have to fight with my enemy, I will get you to fight with him for me. That happens all the time. We identify a lot of patterns like that.
Q: That is very interesting. No one has talked about that in those terms, lots of people talk about complex adaptive systems of working within the systems and the secondary effects, but not so much drawn into the systemic dynamics.
A: The minute you set foot in that system, you are a part of that system.
Q: Give me some more examples of what that might look like, if you could?
A: I will give you some hypotheticals, and I will use the Middle East as an example, or Cyprus. You have an intractable conflict that is inter-generational and it is cyclical also. You will pardon my informal language but it has a pattern of eating the third party. Whatever third party steps forward to say, "Well I can help." They get sucked in to the helplessness, the get sucked in to the hopelessness, they get sucked in ultimately to the combativeness. Watch the history of the US government's intervention in the Middle East, and it is not just that there is the Jewish lobbying, Israel is a good friend and outpost of democracy and all the stuff that they talk about it is that the US government has been rendered impotent because the system is one that renders third parties impotent. It chews them up and spits them out it is part of the dynamic. You come in and try and help us and then we can eviscerate you so we don't have to fight with these others so much, we will fight with you. There is a lot that they US could have done but couldn't see its way to do because it got caught in the dynamics.
Q: How can you better access what those dynamics are before intervening and then how can you check yourself to see where you are in terms of participating in the system dynamics?
A: You can check yourself by doing what ever kind of historical analysis that you can, by reading whatever to check the patterns; number one. Number two, you can tell what is going on, this is where I say spiritual training really helps, but whatever you call it, "self reflectivity". We are always talking about self-reflective practitioners, can you check in with yourself? Are you getting angry? Are you feeling helpless, like you would like to take somebody's head off? Are you finding ways to evade the respectable ways of going about things, off the slightly shady end of the spectrum because that is how you have to get things done here? Check yourself. Are you being caught in that? If so, you need to ask yourself how much of this is how this system operates that I am just being sucked into and how much of that is me? In any event, if you are being sucked in you have to ask, "Why am I vulnerable to this? What part of me also wants to play this game?" Then be able to detach yourself. This is doesn't get talked about very much.