Dialogue and the Big Issues

 

Bob Ensley

CRS Mediator, Atlanta Office


[Full Interview]

Question:
When you have issues that are so large like racism or class economic issues, how do you incorporate that into the mediation or the resolution of the conflict?

Answer:
Well, the first thing, as you know, is that you've got to get people sitting down and talking. Getting them to the table is one of the most difficult things and it requires some skill. You develop skills by practice, and participation, and involvement in similar situations. You have to get them to realize it's all for the common good. You also have to be sure they have time to devote to the problem. This is awfully agonizing many times and so frustrating. A good deal of inner strength and inner faith is required to continue to work through the processes when they're telling you it's not going to work, that they're not going to change their position, that you're just going to muddy the water, and create some additional problems by getting involved. Don't let them deter you. You've just got to keep on begging them and insisting they've got to meet and sit down and talk. And it's the only way. You can't force them to do it, but you've got to have them realize that it's not going to go away.

Question:
"Them" means who?

Answer:
The groups that are involved, particularly the white power structure. I know the black people that have been coached and instructed to say certain things to me, to make me think things aren't that bad. But it's far greater and much more serious. They don't know that I've already done my homework in many areas and know a lot more about them and how they were elected and how they've been voting on issues and certain things.