Henry R. Luce Professor in Human Dimensions of Global Change, Carleton College
Interviewed by Jennifer Goldman — 2003
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Q: What is the work that you're currently doing?
A: I'm a philosopher by trade. I've been doing work at the intersection of philosophy and environmental studies for many many years. And in fact by this point in my career I guess I am in some ways a fake environmental scientist. I have an appointment at NCAR, among other places, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and I'm coauthoring an introductory environmental science text book, the point of which is to put try to put some human issues, both as drivers of consequences of environmental problems, much more factual centered than they've normally been. The work that I've done over the years...I've done a lot of different kinds of work over the years. I've done work that's very hands on kind of work, a lot around pollution prevention issues, I did a lot of EPA work in that regard. I've also done more purely theoretical work on lots of issues having to do with humans relations to animals, work on biotechnology, endangered species, that sort of thing, but the problem area, I guess, that I've done more work in than any other and it's one where I will continue to do a lot of work in the future, is climate change.
Q: How does your work now relate to issues of enduring conflict situations?
A: Well, I'm not sure. I guess issues about animals might often be seen as falling into that category, and maybe also some conflicts about climate change. I guess another way of looking at it is, actually I just published a book called Morality's Progress and I guess the book presupposes that at least not all conflicts are intractable.
Q: That's a good thing to presuppose. So let me jump right in with a question for you about enduring conflict situations. If you could say, you know, in a couple of sentences or paragraphs, how do you understand, or think about these kinds of situations, conflict situations that are enduring?
A: Well, you know, in the philosophical tradition, there've been two major approaches to moral disagreement. One is associated with Plato and one is associated with Aristotle. The one associated with Plato is that when people disagree, its because there is something that someone knows that someone else doesn't. And in the tradition associated with Aristotle, the view has been that it isn't a question of a failure sof knowledge, it's a matter of a failure of will. And I suppose that I think there're some elements of both of those things in most of these questions. I mean, I don't very much...It seems to me that first of all, one should only view conflicts as really intractable as a last resort. And I guess I'm not really convinced that many of the paradigms that have been given as intractable conflicts are really intractable as opposed to extremely difficult, taking a very very very long time to deal with.
Q: Can you say more about the reasons behind your feelings?
A: Well, you know, I guess part of it is just very simply a question of time horizon. You might have thought that the conflict over slavery was an intractable conflict. You might have thought that the conflict over gay rights in America was an intractable conflict. But it seems to me, that not only is that not an intractable conflict but its one in which a lot of traction is actually now being made at this particular moment. So I guess one thing I don't...sort of...It it isn't that I don't think that there are perhaps intractable conflicts, its just that I'm not very attracted to this as a category, I guess for this reason.
Q: For sure there is a lot of controversy in the field about calling it intractable conflict, because it does seem like a doomsday kind of approach.
Q: I have a couple of follow-up questions on some things you just said. One of them is, what do you think...you know you mentioned the gay right movement for example. Are there things that you can pinpoint when you look at that movement, or other conflict, what do you think moves that from looking like an intractable conflict at one point in history into not looking that way?
A: I guess the answers to that question are going to depend on what level that one looks at. So, for example, at a certain level what I find most heartening in the conflict over gay rights is the fact that every major corporation except one corporation which is known to be quite nasty on many different dimensions, now has nondiscrimination policies. So we've moved into a certain period of time from this being extremely controversial to being close to being consensus, at least among major corporations. So that's one reason for thinking that is not an intractable conflict. Now the question you might have been asking is what actually moves things more forward. Is that what you were more getting at?
A: I think that there's a lot of different kinds of things that move things forward. I mean, I think...Here I'll give you just kind of some homely examples from when I was doing pollution work for EPA. In some cases it's really true that people just don't know how to do things. They can't imagine what it would be like to do them. And that stops people in their tracks. And that can go from something as simple as recycling, I mean, why aren't recycling rates higher? It turns out that they're often not higher simply because people don't know how to recycle. And I think just to leap a few hundred levels, I think that people might not, in the Middle East context, know actually what it would be like to share land, for example. So sometimes I think it's a question of giving people vision, and ways of imagining the future. Sometimes I think it's a matter of giving people more security about living with ambiguity and not knowing where things are going. Sometimes I think it's a matter of changing certain factual beliefs that people have about the world. For example, there are all these surveys that show that Americans are extremely hostile to providing foreign assistance. There are also all these surveys that show that people have these radically incorrect views about the amount of the federal budget that goes to foreign assistance. What typically happens is that when people are informed of the facts, they actually drop their opposition. Sometimes its just a matter of getting people's actual beliefs better aligned with the world. And sometimes its questions about fundamental reevaluations of values. And that happens sometimes...And all these processes I think tend to work in concert with each other, so in some respect value change leads...makes people more receptive to learning new facts about the world. And sometimes new facts make people more receptive about values, and all of these changes are quite piecemeal changes. So, you know, the great emancipator was a segregationist, for example. It's not a very full or satisfactory answer, but it's a reason that we have these conflicts, because we don't have very fully satisfactory answers
Q: I'd also like to get back what you were saying about Plato and Aristotle and the difference between their approaches, and if you could tell me more about that. I was particularly struck by the failure of will versus, you know, things that people don't know about the other side.
A: Right, well, Aristotle thought that when people behave wrongly, it's through...the Greek term is "ocracia(?)," that it's through weakness of will. He was impressed by these kinds of cases where we know what the right thing to do is, we know what the means are for producing the right thing, but somehow we just can't bring ourselves to do it. So for him, in some ways, the paradigm of this kind of wrong action is really like case of the guy going off his diet. I know that the chocolate cake is going to blow my diet, I want to stay on the diet, and I find myself eating chocolate cake anyway. So the question is what is it that strengthens the will? For Aristotle, a big piece of it...well, there were two big pieces, I guess. One is the support of a community in the inculcation in a community of right action. So that's where this begins to verge over into William Bennett(?) land. In a second piece had to do with repetition, with the formation of habits and virtue. And so the idea is that you declare yourself this diet, and the first time you're offered this chocolate cake it's really really hard to resist. But having resisted one time, three times, nine times, it gets progressively easier.
Q: So the way to right action, according to Aristotle, would be building a community around you who's all involved in doing the right action, and also individually having people repeat the right behaviors over and over again.
Q: Interesting. And you mentioned William Bennett? I'm not familiar with him.
A: William Bennett is actually someone who was a philosopher by trade, who then wound up as the Drug Czar in the Reagan administration and the Secretary of Education, I think, in Reagan's, or maybe George the First's adminstration. And he has a book, which has been a best seller, which I can't remember the title of. But it's basically a collection of stories that are about the virtues, meaning right action. A lot of these people who have this kind of view, this Aristotilian(?) view, tend to think...I mean, the idea is that you're not going to get people to do the right...on this kind of view...it's not like you're going people to do the right thing, unless you get people to be the right kind of people. So there's this focus on sort of moral education and inculcating the virtues in people so that people do the right thing out of habit. And often the best means for doing that, in this tradition, as part of this whole package, has to do with the power of narrative stories and that sort of thing, which are often viewed as being much more powerful motivators for people than kind of abstract accounts of facts. And I guess one way this might connect more directly to these conflict situations is just in a very simple way: It's not easy to get people to kill people. There are these studies that even in World War II, most soldiers actually didn't fire guns, and most soldiers who did fire guns didn't always kill someone when they had an opportunity to do so. So it takes a lot of social conditioning to get people to behave in these ways of just doing nothing but willing and wishing...I mean it's one thing, I guess, to wish harm to others, and it's another thing to actually act systematically so as to harm them. The idea is that certain kinds of people with certain kinds of moral education, no matter their attitudes and feelings were, still might not engage in that action that would get you in the downward spiral. I guess you see that in certain social movements, like perhaps the American Civil Rights Movement, perhaps certain phases of the Indian Independence Movement led by Gandhi.
Q: So are you talking about moral education in those movements? Can you say more about moral education and how you define that?
A: Yeah, again, the paradigm of moral education, in this tradition, is really what happens...and you get another theme here that they have, is what happens in sort of good families in the education of children. It's essentially what happens as children grow up and they learn that...They inevitably enter into disputes with other children, but they learn that there are certain approaches for resolving those disputes and there are certain ways of resolving those disputes that one simply does not engage in. Its wrong to club Johnny in order to steal his sandwich. You can negotiate with Johnny. You can trade your apple for his sandwich. That's okay, but you can't club him for his sandwich. That's sort of the paradigm of moral education in this tradition. It's hard to...and that's one of the problems, is it's very hard to get an adult analogue to that. If the kids grow up without those inhibitions, without those ideals, it can be very hard to get them as an adult, but nevertheless it's not completely impossible.
Q: You started off by telling me a little bit about your uncomfortability with the words "intractable conflict," and even with the notion that conflict may be intractable, and I don't know if you had a chance to read any of the materials that we had sent you...
A: Yeah I did.
Q: Okay, great. So I'm interested in hearing, did anything strike you, as you were reading, about how your view of conflict and resolving conflict contrasts to specific parts of what you read, or even to the entire thing?
A: Yeah, okay. Well, in general, I felt...and this might sound inconsistent, but I don't think it is. Except for this word of intractable, I felt broadly sympathetic with what was being said in these materials. Because in fact what is meant by intractable conflict in these cases is not unresolvable conflict, or else there would be no point to the project, presumably. I felt broadly sympathetic. One further distinction that I would introduce is this, and in a way this is a philosopher's kind of distinction: The materials that I read tend to view intractable conflicts, however we might understand that, whether just as really really really difficulte ones or impossible ones to solve, as often being morally based conflicts. Morality tends to come out on the side of being a generator of intractable conflicts. Does that sound fair to you?
Q: Yeah, I would think that is one piece of most intractable conflicts, or many of them.
A: That's right, and that's a theme that kind of runs through the material. And I would say something more like...I would want to distinguish morality from moralism. I think that moralism is certainly a piece of many of these conflicts. But I also thing that morality has...I don't think that morality and moralism are the same thing, and I think morality actually has resources for resolving conflicts that are pretty unique. Just as an example...I'll come back to the moralism thing in a minute if you want, but just as an example, in the climate change debate, one of things that I've argued a lot, is that if you cast this debate as a scientific debate, it actually turns out to be irresolvable because what happens is that different people have different views of the facts, and most people consider themselves to be incompetent to adjudicate between different sets of facts. Or if they don't get that far, they just are willing to believe the facts that are presented by their ideological friends. In my opinion, the climate change issue is, to a very very great extent, a value based issue. And if you could actually discuss explicitly the values that are implicated in the discussion, that you could actually hope to build more consensus about what we ought to do, than if you turn the whole thing into an advanced calculus test.
Q: How do you see it as a moral debate?
A: Because to me, the climate change debate is fundamentally about four things, in no particular order. Since the effects of climate change will mostly be suffered by future generations, it's an issue about our moral responsibilities to future people. Secondly, since it's poor people who will suffer most, and are suffering most from climate change, and rich people who are causing it, it's a question of distributive justice. Thirdly, it's a question of just taking responsibility for one's actions, just in a very simple way, a kind of "do not harm" injunction. And then finally, it's really a question about these fundamental lifestyle choices, if you will. I mean, how is it that we want to live our lives? Do we want to live lives as sort of profligate high consumers, or do we want to live lives that are simpler? That sort of thing. There's the whole raft of tradeoffs, I suppose, between a more materialistic life and one that's focused more on quality of life, as opposed to, you know, stuff. So those are at least four dimensions where morality gets a strong foothold in the climate change issue, and they tend to be hardly ever talked about. Instead people talk about parts per million of this and that.
Q: It sounds like in your view, it would help people to talk about these things explicitly, rather than just debating the facts of how big the hole is in the ozone layer, and things like that.
A: Right, exactly. So that's the way I see morality as actually being something that can be a useful resource. And part of it has to do with the fact that morality, at least as it's understood by moral philosophers, is closely connected to ideas of impartiality, for example. In some sense putting oneself in the place others. What kind of principles would I accept if I didn't actually know what would benefit me and what would harm me and so on and so forth, because of the impartial nature of morality. It has resources, once people really do engage in moral thinking, for making progress on some of these conflicts.
Q: I didn't hear the last couple of sentences.
A: Okay, I guess I was just being redundant. I guess I was just saying that because of the focus on impartiality, that's a resource for trying to move ahead on some of these kinds of questions. So I would say that, for example, when a Jewish settler says this land is only big enough for one of us and it's going to be us, or a Palestinian says this land is only big enough for one of us and it's going to be us, that is exactly the opposite of moral thinking. Whatever people might say about we were here first, or the Bible gave the land to us and so on and so forth, there's no real moral thinking that's going on in this case because there is a complete failure of impartiality.
Q: So a major definition of morality is the ability to be impartial?
A: Exactly, and that's what makes it different from moralism. Moralism can be dressing up my own interests of preferences in the language of objective right or truth. And there certainly is a lot of moralism in these conflicts, but that's not the same.
Q: Are there other components of morality that strike you as central to the definition of morality?
A: Yeah, I think the best way to think about it is to think you can't go too far wrong by thinking of impartiality as being what's central, and then what happens is very different ideas about what impartiality implies. So some people would say, for example, what impartiality implies is something like this test that I gave you, of what policies would I choose if I didn't know how they would affect me, would be one way of understanding impartiality. Another way of understanding impartiality would be to say impartiality means that we do what brings about the best overall results, regardless of the distribution of those results. And then, you know, I could go on to explain differences. But anyway, I think you can just think of a core notion of impartiality, and also think about the fact that morality, essentially, is an institution or a set of social practices that is pretty culturally universal, and evolved, I think, as a way of regulating social behavior. In that sense it would be kind of weird to think that morality was part of the problem in generating intractable conflicts, since morality, just as an evolutionary artifact, is one of the ways that we cope with having to live together in society.
Q: That's really interesting to me. It's clear that I need to do some reading on morality. And in fact, that might be a good place for me to mention that one of the purposes of this project is to gather resources: books, videos, teaching materials, on the kinds of thinks that you're bringing to our attention. So what I've been doing after talking, in addition to taking other notes, is noting down names of people that you're mentioning, like William Bennett, and who else? Morality's Progress...So that if it's okay with you, what I'll do is e-mail a list of the things that you've mentioned to you and if you can annotate it in some way that would be great.
A: Sure. One thing you might do, at least for my stuff, is go to my website.
Q: Okay, what is your website?
A: It's kind of hard to say, I can't even remember, but it's at the bottom of my e-mail message.
Q: Okay. Are there other things that came to mind in reference to or in contrast to...Because really, as you know, what we're looking for is we want people to tell us how did our writing, how did the stuff that you read from us, not jibe with you. How do you think about things differently?
A: I mean, as I say, I didn't really feel that it didn't jibe. It seemed to me that a lot of very good points were made. I mean, I guess maybe...This is perhaps a bit of a prejudice that I have about a lot of sort of social scientific endeavors, if you will. I sort of think that what one can say at a general level does run out pretty quickly. And what really matters with conflicts is their texture. And sometimes the texture is...You know, and then you get at the next level of people arguing where people say, well people don't matter, it's only interests that matter. And again, it depends. I was struck in an environmental case in the United States, for example, in the Regan administration things were horribly hung up on the acid rain issue and then the Clean Air Act. And when things were hung up you had Ronald Regan as president and you had, the democratic senate majority leader was from West Virginia. She was a coal-mining state. And what happened is when you've got a new democratic senate majority leader who's from Maine, George Mitchell, which is on the receiving end, and on the giving end, and you've got a republican president, who, after all, has a summer home in Maine, we got action on that issue. So sometimes people matter. And I think...You know, that's why political assassination matters. I mean I happen to believe, for what it's worth, that the assassination of Rabin was a case of a very successful political assassination. I mean, the assassin got exactly what he wanted, which was to stop the Oslo accords, the Oslo peace process.
Q: What is it about those people, do you think?
A: Well sometimes it just takes individuals...I mean, I guess part of what it is is that we are not...You know, we often state things abstractly, but we are not abstract creature. I mean, even as students...You're a graduate student and you're in graduate school. You've gotten to where you are in graduate school, to a great extent, because you had all these intellectual interests. But I also think, and it's no different from anyone else, you also got to where you are to some extent because you were pleasing various authority figures in your environment at an early age. You were six years old and your teacher wanted you to learn the multiplication tables, and you might have found the multiplication tables intrinsically interesting, but you also wanted to please your teacher. And so I think we often tend to shape and describe things kind of in this abstract way, but our motivations are often very personal, and so sometimes what it is that people can do is to just be the sort of people that will lead other people to make concessions for, even when they wouldn't otherwise do that. And sometimes it's because they had a long personal history of their own, like Arafat and Rabin did. They both tried it enough the other way, they both believed that the other had seen the blind alleys and could move forward. Sometimes it's just because these people, like Clinton, just have enormous charisma. There's a lot that goes into it. Sometimes, like Lyndon Johnson, it's because they're enormously charismatic and they will also destroy your life if you don't cooperate. They had it going on both ends, the kind of implicit huge carrot, with the big stick also lurking in the background. In fact I'll tell you something that's really fascinating, just as a kind of un-academic background to your project, go to...it used to be on the CSPAN website, probably still is, there's all these tapes of Lyndon Johnson during key periods of his presidency, including for example when he was getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through congress. And it's just amazing to hear him, one minute talking to some racist southern senator, and the next minute talking to Martin Luther King.
Q: So there's something, you think, about his personality that enabled him...
A: Yeah, and his ability to...I mean, I don't even know if you call it persuade because what really matters in a situation like that isn't even ultimately your ability to persuade people, it's your ability to get them to do things. And he could get this amazing group of people who would otherwise be killing each other to do things together. That's just one piece of it, is the personal thing. It's certainly not the only piece. And that came out in the context of just saying that I'm kind of skeptical about how much you can say that's general. I mean it seems to me the papers do a good job of making generalizations about these conflict cases, but then the real work, I think, tends to be with the cases themselves.
Q: Dealing with the specific people involved.
A: Yeah. And the specific facts of the situation, and the specificity of it all.
Q: You had talked before about if you were able to help with the climate change debate, you would focus people on these four issues and have them have that kind of debate, rather than just about the facts. Now, if you were asked to help in that kind of situation or other kind of situation, what else would you do?
A: In the climate change debate?
Q: Either in the climate change debate or in other similar enduring conflict situations.
A: Well, I'll tell you one thing that we did, actually, when I was in Boulder, which I think was a great project, and it could have been taken a lot further, is we got together a bunch of...I don't want make them sound too like they were just these two warring tribes, because there were some other people involved...But we got these sort of intractable business types together with these intractable environmentalists, who basically were the people who would be wringing each other's necks and suing each other. And what we did is we took some old conflicts, what we called cold cases, rather than hot cases, and we essentially got them to work over cold cases together. And the thing that was really kind of amazing is when it came to analyzing and understanding the cold cases, they turned out to have a lot in common. I mean, they would come to some...consensus might be too strong...but, you know sometimes they would even switch sides on the cold cases.
Q: As an exercise? Or actually they would switch their views?
A: They would actually switch. I mean, looking back, analyzing, seeing what happened, looking at now with the facts in a less charged way, and so on and so forth, sometimes one side who you have thought of as being anti-Green would end up saying that they thought a more green response was the right one, and someone who was on the green side... And I thought that that was potentially a very powerful way of getting people to think then about hot cases. Because it seems to me that one of the things you want to do with hot cases isn't so much to expect people to agree. That, I think, is too much to ask for. But part of what you want to do is you want to drain these conflicts of the desire that people have to kill each other.
Q: And so you're defining cold cases as cases that have already been closed, the issue is not an issue anymore. Somehow, talking about those old cases or old issues once they've already been closed enabled people to see the other side's perspective better?
A: Much better. It enabled them to see that the cases tended to be very complicated and have all sorts of unpredictable aspects. But it also, by working through these cold cases with the enemy, it also gave them some trust that the enemy wasn't just an ideological monster, but was someone who was actually sensitive to a variety of values and nuances.
Q: How do you think that happens in the context of having these kinds of dialogues?
A: Do you mean what is it that we did in the dialogues to get them to do that?
Q: Yeah, I mean it felt like there were a lot of steps along the way from the idea that they would be talking about a closed issue to being able to see the other side's perspective.
A: Well, actually the hardest thing, I'll tell you the hardest thing. Actually, it wasn't very hard to get this to happen once you got people together. You did all the kind of usual things. You gave them confidentiality, you gave them food, you flattered them, you created a kind of camaraderie within the group. I mean, I think we did do some role playing and side switching. But mainly we kind of set this up as a collaborative problem solving enterprise. In a way that was hard, and also the people we were dealing with were all really extraordinary people. I mean, they were people who were leaders, and were aggressive in the sense of once they took something on they wanted to make something happen. The hardest part was to get people to agree to do this in the first place.
Q: I was just going to ask you about that.
A: Yeah, because that's where you get people who really are invested in having the conflict. They really don't want their ideological rigor to soften.
Q: Right, and there's the risk that by engaging in this kind of conversation that's what will happen, that they will lose their ideology. And it sounds like, from what you're saying, that actually did happen in some cases. How did people react when they discovered...I mean, I'm actually surprised that you knew that they switched sides. Because it's one thing for them to internally think to themselves, oh, now that I see the situation with some perspective, I can see why this other side makes sense. But to actually say that out loud seems to be a pretty heroic thing to do.
A: Well, I mean, I think part of it is that I think that most people, even people who are really pretty ideologically driven are...They don't see themselves as these automatons who are just doing logical deductions from some grand principle. I mean, they see themselves as being responsive to the way the world is. So, that kind of gives you something to go on. So when it's a cold case and things come out looking a way that would look very surprising, in a way that just shows their fair-mindedness. Do you see what I mean?
Q: Right, so are you saying that there might actually be something there where they're trying to show...like, it's a positive thing for them to show that they are rational, thinking human beings, who if persuaded, if the facts persuade them such, they actually would switch sides on a an issue.
A: Right, exactly. And also I feel the way we're talking about this is...I mean, the categories are not wrong, but they're slightly misleading in the sense that really, in some ways, the biggest lesson substantively about these cases was that there was really no single right answer, and how complex the cases were, and how having a kind of knee-jerk reaction to the cases was very likely to lead you to surprising and unwanted places. So in a way, almost more than anything, I feel like what the cases showed...What happened between people and process was enormously important, and the other thing that was so important was the kind of humility that it engendered. And that was more important than sort of overt side-switching, if you will.
Q: And as far as this approach, what informed your approach when you designed this whole...
A: That's a really good question. And the truth is, we were just this group of philosophers who had serious disagreements among ourselves. I mean, we had very different views, and one of us left the university and went on and has basically been someone who's worked very closely with Cheney, both the Cheneys for years now. And those are certainly not my views. But we were just this group of three people who thought that there were these...You know, there's this idea in philosophy that having something that approached a rational dialogue could actually allow progress. And then we just looked around and tried to remove as many of the impediments to rational dialogue as we could. Like discussing cases in which people's immediate livelihood is at stake. And in that sense we just sort of made it up from there.
Q: So it just struck you that rather than talking about the current cases, it would be a better idea to think about old cases.
A: Yes. Because it's just obvious that people go insane when you talk about current cases, especially in Colorado in that period, and we were talking about environmental cases.
Q: In an ideal world, what do you believe needs to happen to deal with these kinds of enduring conflict situations?
A: Well I think that one...Again, I think it depends on the case, but I do think that one problem...At the moment for whatever reason I'm thinking about the Palestinian-Israeli issue, and generally thinking about the conduct of American foreign policy. And it seems to me that one thing that gets lost is that it's not just what a philosopher would call substantive justice that matters, but also procedural justice. It matters enormously how people get places, not just the place to which they get. And it seems to me that that's something that tends to be ignored much too much of the time.
Q: So your recommendation in an ideal world would be for procedural justice to be central to the process of resolving conflict issues.
A: Yep, you know, respecting others whose interests are at stake. Again, in terms of the climate change issue, the intractable conflict over whether to go to war in Iraq, and so on. Certainly a lot of what has been going on here is not about whether the American policy is right or wrong, it's been about the contempt with which the Americans have treated others on these questions. And I think the same thing's true in the Palestinian case. I mean, there's...It's hard to even know what exactly is acceptable to the Palestinians because their perception is that every day they are treated to gratuitous humiliation.
Q: So you mean it would be hard to even figure out where to begin?
A: Yeah, I mean I think that there's...Some people say that this is an intractable conflict because the zone of acceptability for the...There's no overlap between what's acceptable for the Israelis and what's acceptable for the Palestinians. That's one thing you'll often hear in this conflict. And I guess what I'm saying is I don't really...It's not that I'm denying that, it's that I have no idea whether it's true because zones of acceptability are not fixed things. I mean, what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable depend enormously on how you get there. And at least on the Palestinian side the perception has been that at best settlements are dictated.
Q: Settlements are dictated?
A: Yeah, I mean by settlements I mean agreements. Sorry, it's kind of ambiguous in this context. But that agreements are dictated, and as long as there's that perception then it's hard to know what could be acceptable. I mean, what the zone of acceptability is. And that's just looking at it from one side.
Q: It sounds like also what you're saying is that the issues in some cases are not as important as the level of trust that exists between the parties.
A: Absolutely. And I think that dimension just tends to get overlooked. And again that's why the assassination of Rabin was so important, is because at that point the Israelis and the Palestinians were engaged in a process that was predicated on trust, and it was supposed to lead to the establishment of further trust, and there was kind of a top-down role-modeling at that point between Rabin and Arafat. And then with the assassination of Rabin, that whole kind of iterative trust-building process just began to unravel.
Q: So, I'm aware that it's almost 12 o'clock or 11 o'clock your time. And I do have one last kind of artistic question for you, if you have a couple more minutes to spare. If you could use or think about a metaphor or an image to describe the kinds of situations that we're talking about, the enduring conflict situations, what metaphors or images would you use and why?
A: That's a really hard question. Well, actually, for whatever reason the metaphor that at this moment comes to mind is the metaphor of the dance, and I think the reason is that the difference between something being a beautiful and eloquent dance and it being kind of the special equivalent of an intractable conflict has to do with the relationship of the dancers and their ability and willingness and skill at adjusting your own positions relative to that of the other. How's that?
A: Has anyone else used that?
Q: No, but it is a really...I'm glad that we're asking this question, it's brought up some nice images of spirits and webs, and you know, a dance, so...Thank you, I really do appreciate your taking the time, especially when this is a crazy day for you.
A: Yeah, and I think being able to sit here and talk to you for an hour about completely other things while petting my dog has been not a bad thing for me either, Jennifer.
Q: Good, I'm glad. I was hoping that that was the case because you sounded very kind of into what you were saying.
A: Well, you know anything that kind of a bit normalizes the day is alright.
Q: Well, I'm glad that I could help.
A: Okay, take care.
Q: You too...Oh, Dale? One last thing, logistically. As I said, I'll send you the e-mail with a couple of names and references that you can fill in if you can, and then also we're paying you for this, a hundred dollar honorarium. So what I'll do also in that e-mail is I'll enclose an invoice, and it's right now just a template invoice, but if you can fill out your address basically, we will then process the invoice and send you a check.
A: Okay, thanks a lot.
Q: Okay, thank you too.
A: Take care.
Q: Okay, you too Dale. Bye.