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Conflict and COVID-19 ...Continued
Our last newsletter, sent out in early April, noted how much had changed since Newsletter 29, which was sent out in January. Now another month has gone by, and its surprising both how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same. I'm sure I don't need to repeat the stories about what's gone wrong--you already know.
We can, however, report on what is going right. What is going right--in our minds--are first, the number of people who seem to recognize the gravity of the problem we are in, and second the number who are moving to do something about it.
As for the first group, we were heartened by the number of positive responses we got to our initial COVID-19 mailing. A theme became evident in most of the responses: we all agreed (a month ago) that we in the U.S. ,and likely around the world, were at what was widely called "a crossroads." We could either take the path of unity and cooperation to solve this problem together, or we could take the competitive path where every nation, state, and indeed, individual looks out for themselves and either disregards others, or even worse, blames some of those others for the problem.
We collected reflections on the nature of this crossroads on a new blog about COVID-11 and conflict which will be updated frequently. I should note that since we sent our first letter out--and since many of the initial responses have come in--it seems that those of us taking the "collaborative road" are losing ground to the competitive people who are following the lead of the U.S. President and looking out only for what they think is good for themselves, and not what is good for others. This is making it increasingly difficult for the collaborators to do their work effectively, but this is not time to retreat--our efforts are needed even more now. And while many people are focusing their attention on the November election in the United States, many people will die and other problems (climate change, the economy, inequality) will get much worse a if we don't begin addressing COVID-19 and it's social, economic, and environmental impacts more effectively between now and then.
Fortunately, as I said, many people are starting to do this. We want to add our thanks to others' who have expressed deep gratitude to the many "first responders" who are selflessly putting their own lives on the line to help those who are ill. It also includes all the people bravely continuing to do their "essential jobs," -- providing us food and other necessities -- very often without adequate workplace protection, for lousy pay, and worse benefits (if they have any benefits at all). In addition to saying "thanks" to these folk--we should all do what we can to support them--advocate for better pay and benefits, wear masks to help our communities, and help out wherever else we can. Gratitude is also owed many (but not all!) state governors and community leaders who are doing their best to protect their communities, often despite strong opposition to their efforts both locally and in Washington.
The conflict resolution and peacebuilding community is also beginning to respond. We at Beyond Intractability are beginning to collect stories about people in our own and allied fields who have started projects or adjusted ongoing projects to help meet the challenge of COVID and the conflicts it is generating or exacerbating. If you have a project that you'd be willing share on Beyond Intractability, please let us know! Just send us a link, or an emailed description. Right now we're just posting these things as we get them (actually, we're behind at the moment, but we're working to catch up), but we are also working on developing a coding system and database of activities related to COVID-19 or to our Constructive Conflict Initiative more generally, which will be searchable by category of activity. More on that in a month or two.
Selected Recent Posts
In the meantime, here's some selected recent posts, including a good number of those "Colleague Activity Posts" which describe constructive responses to COVID and its impacts.To see all recent posts, go to All CC-MOOS Posts.
From the Colleague Activities Blog
- Mark Chupp - An Exponential Rise of Trust and Goodness --Yes, COVID-19 is growing exponentially. But so, too, is goodness and trust, which can be harnessed to counter the virus. -- May 05
- The Call to Unite --This is a broadly based and truly impressive effort to bring us together to address the many different aspects of the pandemic crisis.-- Apr 30
- Digital peacebuilding and the pandemic (part 1: why it matters)--Food for thought for peacebuilders struggling to adapt their efforts to defuse today's us-vs-them conflicts to the new, social distance environment. -- Apr 27
- Louis Kriesberg: On Taking Action -- Fight despair by taking action--doing something relevant to you to address our personal and collective predicament. -- May 01
- A Different Kind of Civil-Service Nonprofit -- An inspiring story about FUSE, an effort to match volunteer, mid-career professionals with local governments in need of need their skills. -- Apr 21
- As Fighters Lay Down Arms To Combat Coronavirus, We Must Pick Up the Tools To Build Peace -- The Coronavirus is creating opportunities to diffuse some of the world's most terrible conflicts. A USIP essay on how to take advantage of these opportunities-- Apr 16
- Civity Blog -- Bridging Divides to Strengthen Communities -- Looking for ideas on how, in the midst of the pandemic, to help people to create authentic, empathetic, and meaningful relationships with people who differ from themselves? -- Apr 13
- Trusting News project: Helping journalists earn news consumers’ trust -- It's easy to lament the public's distrust of quality journalism. Trusting News is an organization that is actually trying to do something about it. - Apr 12
From the Conflict Fundamentals Seminar
- Bystanders -- It's time for those caught in the middle to take a more active role in limiting the many ways in which they are harmed by the fights of others. -- Apr 20
From the BI Knowledge Base:
- Global Pandemics, National Borders, and Political Problem-Solving -- In this pre-COVID-19 essay, Ken Cloke shares 10 steps needed to respond effectively to pandemics and other similar global threats.-- Apr 15
- Politics, Dialogue, and the Evolution of Democracy -- Ken Cloke -- There is an alternative to all-out, us-vs-them politics. For those who want to learn about it, this is a good place to start. -- Apr 12
From the Beyond Intractability in Context Blog
- It’s Time to Build a Better Political Culture -- Given the dysfunctional nature of the US contemporary political culture, it seems like a good idea to start reading up on strategies for fixing things. -- May 08
- We Need National Service. Now. -- A compelling argument for expanding national service opportunities as a way of building civic culture and putting people back to work -- May 08
- To Protect Democracy We Need to Upgrade our Cognitive Immunity -- A insightful strategy for counteracting propaganda built around the application of biological concepts of immunity to the social system. -- May 07
- Elizabeth Warren and Ro Khanna Unveil Essential Workers Bill of Rights -- Given how many "essential workers" are getting sick and that they have been taking care of us for a long time, we need something like Warren's bill. -- May 04
- Two Errors Our Minds Make When Trying to Grasp the Pandemic -- A look at strategies for overcoming two cognitive biases they can make life in the Pandemic-era vastly more miserable than it needs to be. -- May 05
- The Call to Unite -- This is a broadly based and truly impressive effort to bring us together to address the many different aspects of the pandemic crisis. -- Apr 30
- States Reopening
The Flip Side is an interesting effort to highlight reasonable arguments being offered on the left and the right. This issue looks at "reopening."-- Apr 30
About the MBI Newsletters
Every two weeks or so, we will compile the new posts from our various seminars and blogs into a Newsletter that will be posted here and sent out by email to subscribers. You can sign up to receive your copy on our Newsletter Sign Up Page and find the latest newsletter here on our Newsletter page. Past newsletters can be found in the Newsletter Archive.
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