Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

Home Whats New Trans State Nation One World Unfolding Consciousness Comments Search
Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State > Nations & Nationalism > The Strength of an Idea > Self Determination > Fourth World > International Relations in an Asymmetric Multilateral World > Manufacturing Consent > War & Armed Conflict > Conflict Resolution in an Asymmetric Multi Lateral World > Human Rights & Humanitarian Law > Armed Conflict & the Law > What is Terrorism? > Beyond Nations & Nationalism: One World > Truth is a Pathless Land > From Matter to Life to Mind: An Unfolding Consciousness > Reflections > Library > About Us & Visitor Comments


Country Studies
Earned Sovereignty: Bridging the Gap between Self Determination and Sovereignty

Constitutional Models

European Union - Constitutionalism and Democratic Representation "A constitution is the organisation of offices in a state, and determines what is to be the governing body, and what is the end of each community" Aristotle "...The modern state is transformed by two challenges calling for a new understanding and practice of governance: globalisation and functional differentiation. These long-term trends put the nation-state under pressure thus demanding an adaptation of traditional political institutional arrangements...The European Union can be viewed as an attempt to cope with this pressure in western Europe. Started as a project to prevent war, the E(E)C was later seen as the remedy against the expected incapability of national political systems to guarantee economic growth and political stability..."
Treaty Establishing European Community, 1957
Treaty Establishing European Union, 1992

European Union - On Constitution Making and Democratic Legitimacy

European Union - Does it have a Constitution ? Does it need one?

Constitution Finder

The Government of India Act, 1935

Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confedration 1874

Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confedration, 1999

South Africa


A Proposed Draft Constitution for a Federated Chinese Republic
History of US Federalism
Articles of Confederation of the United States 1777
The Constitution of the United States - Current
Forum on Federations
The Meaning of Confederalism
Federalism, Confederalism and Consociationalism - Xiaokun Song
Minorities and
autonomies at the European Academy
New Directions in Federalism - G.L.Peiris, 1999
Distinguishing between Federalism & Confederalism - Julin Schofield, 2003

What are Federal Solutions? - Daniel J. Elazar

Comparative Federalism: Categories & Typology - Thomas Hueglin, 2002
Theories of Federalism - Ademola Ariyo
Philosophy of Federalism - Kala Ladenheim, 1999
Federalism - Claude Bélanger, 2000
Althusius: Politica
The Politics of Johannes Althusius


Consociational Theory - Oslo Summer School, 2003
Territorial or cultural autonomy for national minorities - Rainer Bauboeck, December 2001
Power Sharing & Group Autonomy in 21st Century - Lijphart, December 1999
Pathways to Peace "In a world of uncertain times, we strive to be a gentle reminder that peace is possible. Our mission is to make a positive contribution to the well-being of our world, and to be a major and measurable force for good on the World Wide Web, by creating experiences of inspiration that warm the heart and touch the soul."

Ethnicity in International Conflicts - Victor Yves Ghebali, 1998

Structure and Strategy in Ethnic Conflict - Donald L. Horowitz

Causes of Conflict in the Developing World - Francis Stewart, 2002

Conflict Resolution Page - Dimo Yagcioglu

The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Yale University

Citizens for Global Solution, USA

The Carter Center - Advancing Human Rights & alleviating Suffering, Atlanta, USA

Center for International Conflict Resolution (CICR), Columbia University, USA

Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution, George Mason University, USA

Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

How Terrorism Ends - United States Institute for Peace - Special Report by Jon B.Altman, Martha Crenshaw, Teresita Schaffer and Paul Wilkinson,1999

Conflict Management Group - 'Peace is not a Piece of Paper', Roger Fisher


Bergof Foundation, Germany

From Resolution to Transformation: The Role of Dialogue Projects - Norbert Ropers

KOFF - Center for Peacebuilding

INCORE - Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity


Peacebuilding in War-torn Societies - Seminar Organised by
Austrian Study Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR)
Center for Conflict Resolution (CECORE)
14 November - 3 December 2004, Entebbe, Uganda - Course Co-directors: Ms. Gudrun Kramer, Ms. Stella Sabiiti

Politics of International Law

Wilton Park Conference on Engagement of Armed Groups in Peace Processes, December 2005

Institute for Integrative Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding, Vienna, Austria

Österreichische Institut für Internationale Politik , Austria

India & Sri Lanka

Institute For Conflict Management, New Delhi

International Center for Transitional Justice, New York, USA ...founded in March 2001 to assist societies pursuing accountability for human rights abuse arising from repressive rule, mass atrocity, or armed conflict...

International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo

Conflict Resolution
in aN ASYMMETRIC Multi Lateral World

Nadesan Satyendra
10 May 2004, Revised 7 December 2007

Guernica by Picasso - modern art's most powerful antiwar statement

" ...Man's illusions are of all sorts and kinds... The greatest of them all are those which cluster round the hope of a perfected society, a perfected race, a terrestrial millennium... One of the illusions incidental to this great hope is the expectation of the passing of war. This grand event in human progress is always being confidently expected, and since we are now all scientific minds and rational beings, we no longer expect it by a divine intervention, but assign sound physical and economical reasons for the faith that is in us... (however) ...only when man has developed not merely a fellow feeling with all men... when he is aware of them not merely as brothers ­ that is a fragile bond ­ but as parts of himself, only when he has learned to live, not in his separate personal and communal ego-sense, but in a large universal consciousness, can the phenomenon of war, with whatever weapons, pass out of his life without the possibility of return... Meanwhile that he should struggle even by illusions towards that end, is an excellent sign; for it shows that the truth behind the illusion is pressing towards the hour when it may become manifest as reality... " Sri Aurobindo on the Passing of War

Aurobindo's remarks in 1917 concerning the passing of war, serve to set the frame for any discussion about conflict resolution in that which has been described as 'the age of Empire' by some and as an 'asymmetric multi lateral world' by others. From Attilla the Hun and Genghis Khan, from Charlemagne to Napolean, from Adolf Hitler to President Truman and the Hiroshima bomb, and now from Osma Bin Laden, the Twin Towers and President Bush to Afghanistan and Iraq and , conflict continues and humankind continues to strive to end conflict.

The problem with war is always with the 'victor', because he (or she) has demonstrated that superior force pays - and, sooner rather than later, there will be those who will rise to show that they have learnt well the lesson that was taught. If as Churchill reportedly remarked, the farther you look back into history, the further you can look forward, it will seem that we are faced with the continuing prospect of conflicts and wars to end wars, till the end of time. But then again, hopefully, Churchill may have been wrong in casting the future in the mould of the past.

Meanwhile, conflict resolution experts multiply by the day. We have the Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Roger Fisher's Conflict Management Group, Transcend and the Berghof Foundation, to name but a few.

And, there is no shortage of literature about how conflicts may be resolved. Some consider it important that we do not lose sight of the obvious:

"...Every dispute has a history; we have been sending messages to them and they have been sending messages to us, even if only by silence or by a professed refusal to negotiate. Positions have been staked out. Proposals have been made and rejected. One thing we know for sure: if the conflict is continuing, whatever we have been saying and doing so far has not worked. It has not produced the result we want, or we would have turned our attention to other matters by now..." - Roger Fisher, Elizabeth Kopelman & Andrea Kupfer Schnieder, in Beyond Machiavelli : Tools for Coping With Conflict 1994

We have writings about getting to yes and negotiating agreement without giving in, which take pains to point out that how you see the world depends on where you sit -

"...How you see the world depends on where you sit. People tend to see what they want to see. Out of a mass of detailed information, they tend to pick out and focus on those facts that confirm their prior perceptions and to disregard or misinterpret those that call their perceptions into question. Each side in a negotiation may see only the merits of its case, and only the faults of the other side's. The ability to see the situation as the other side sees it, as difficult as it may be, is one of the most important skills a negotiator can possess. It is not enough to know that they see things differently. If you want to influence them, you also need to understand empathetically the power of their point of view and to feel the emotional force with which they believe in it. It is is not enough to study them like beetles under a microscope; you need to know what it feels like to be a beetle...."

Again, experts are not slow to point out the need for experts. They point out that 'parties rarely spend time consciously trying to invent original ways of resolving their differences or formulating principles that will appeal to both sides' and that ' most us do not know how - we are untrained in the art of generating fresh ideas'

"...Sometimes, an important factor in changing the course of an international negotiation may be the introduction of a creative perspective, a new understanding of what may have seemed to be intractable conflict. Such a fresh idea will often provide the kernel of a new question that can be asked of someone who, up until now, has been saying 'no'...

"...Parties to a conflict tend to get stuck because they have been going back and forth arguing about the past and about the merits of their respective positions. The debate has taken on a stale quality, and new ideas are not being generated. Often, those involved simply see no need for new ideas. They know what they are opposed to. They see their primary concern as having their views prevail. New ideas are a threat to existing ideas. Inventing does not take place because parties are content with the ideas they have. Or emotional involvement on one side of a conflict makes it difficult to achieve the detachment necessary to think of solutions that reconcile the interests of all parties....

Perhaps the most serious constraint on creative thinking in a conflict is the official role of those involved in it. Having authority puts a negotiator in the position where a freely invented option may be mistaken by adversaries as an official position. There is a serious risk that she will be seen, at least personally, as committed to accept an idea that she created or helped to create. Something said in a creative context may later be treated as a concession by other negotiators or by critics at home..

....A final reason for not coming up with better ideas is that most us do not know how - we are untrained in the art of generating fresh ideas.... few of those involved in a conflict ever spend much time trying to invent better solutions for all concerned. Parties rarely spend time consciously trying to invent original ways of resolving their differences or formulating principles that will appeal to both sides..." - Roger Fisher from Harvard Law School, Andrea Kupfer Schneider from Marquette Law School, Elizabeth Borgwardt from Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation and Brian Ganson in Coping with International Conflict, 1997

Yet others emphasise that a peace process is not so much about what happens before an agreement is reached, but rather what happens after it.

"...many peace agreements are fragile and the 'peace' that they create is usually the extension of war by more civilised means... A peace agreement is often an imperfect compromise based on the state of play when the parties have reached a 'hurting stalemate' or when the international community can no longer stomach a continuation of the crisis. A peace process, on the other hand, is not so much what happens before an agreement is reached, rather what happens after it... the post conflict phase crucially defines the relationship between former antagonists..." - Walter Kemp, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, reviewing 'After the Peace: resistance and reconciliation' by Robert L.Rothstein, 1999

This ofcourse opens up the question as to what it is that leads the so called 'international community' to conclude that it can no longer stomach a continuation of the conflict. The 'international community' is not without its own 'security/strategic' interests, whether they be linked to the control of oil resources or nuclear non proliferation or control of the currency in which world trade is conducted - and these interests may not be unrelated to that which the international community 'can no longer stomach' at any particular time.

Acheh, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia -Herzegovina, Nepal, Bougainville, Chittagong, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Sudan, serve to illustrate the attempts by the 'international community' (read, by and large, tri laterals - US, European Union and Japan) to manage conflicts. They also underline the political reality that 'a peace process is not so much what happens before an agreement is reached, rather what happens after it'. And we have seen the emergence of the 'earned sovereignty approach'.

"..The intensity and severity of sovereignty-based conflicts, their relationship to increasing levels of terrorism, and the lack of effective legal norms and principles have given rise to the need for a new approach to resolving sovereignty-based conflicts....The ability to determine the final status of the substate entity years after the initial peace agreement provides an opportunity for the parties to make a decision on final status at a time when passions are not inflamed by an ongoing armed conflict. The approach also permits a more rational, deliberative process, which may involve the international community in some form. Similarly, the involvement of the international community in institution building benefits the state and substate entity by enabling the creation of institutions necessary to ensure the stable operation of the substate entity, either as a new state or as a province with heightened autonomy. The creation of domestic institutions also provides the state and the international community with an additional point of contact to pressure the substate entity, which facilitates the protection of legitimate interests, such as the protection of minority rights, and responsible regional behavior..." Earned Sovereignty: Bridging the Gap Between Sovereignty and Self-Determination - Paul R.Williams & Francesa Jannotti Pecci

It is not difficult to see that the earned sovereignty approach is directed to advance the role of the international community, 'provide the state and the international community with an additional point of contact to pressure the substate entity' and secure that the conflict is resolved in such a way that the 'international community's own strategic interests are secured.

Again, conflicts with non state actors have special dimensions which have received the attention of the Rand Organisation amongst others.

"Coercion will be a critical foreign policy tool in crises involving nonstate actors. The United States will turn to military force because many non military forms of pressure, such as economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts, are difficult to target against nonstate adversaries. At the same time, crises will often involve issues that do not directly implicate vital U.S. interests; more frequently, they will involve interests perceived as peripheral to the American public, and will therefore demand strictly limited, as opposed to overwhelming and brute, uses of force."

Characteristics that distinguish attempts to coerce nonstate actors include:

• Nonstate adversaries may lack identifiable and targetable assets.
• Inaccurate intelligence estimates are particularly common.
• Nonstate adversaries may lack control over constituent elements.
• Indirect coercion is often difficult, unreliable, and counterproductive.
• Nonstate actors are adept at exploiting countermeasures to coercion.

Most of these problems are not unique to nonstate actors, but they have shown themselves to be magnified in the nonstate context. Coercion assumes an ability to hold some adversary interest at risk. For a variety of reasons, the nonstate context complicates this core assumption. Military forces and territory are less often vulnerabilities of nonstate actors. The August 1998 missile attacks against terrorist financier Usama bin Laden illustrate this problem. The target was bin Laden's "network," but it was not clear what this comprised beyond the people involved, because he had few assets associated with the network that were vulnerable to military force...

Underestimating or misunderstanding nonstate adversary motivations is particularly likely. Even if a nonstate actor is weak, its motivations are likely to be strong, particularly when compared with those of the coercing power. The perceived benefits of resisting coercive threats are likely to be considerable. In civil war or ethnic conflict, the parties will have already resolved to accept extremely high costs in pursuit of their goals. In the case of religious or ideological movements, nonstate organizations may be driven by intense desires to achieve more transcendent objectives. And in humanitarian crises, violence may stem from perceived necessities of survival. In all of these situations, the United States is likely to face adversaries highly motivated to absorb costs. Whereas nonstate crises will often implicate interests seen as peripheral to the United States and its allies, they may implicate the highest stakes for nonstate adversaries...." - Coercing Non State Actors - the Challenge for the Future, Rand Corporation Study, 1999

A United States Institute for Peace study in May 1999 on How Terrorism Ends, observed -

*The nature of the grievance matters. Ethnically based terrorist campaigns can be harder to end decisively than politically based ones, because they often enjoy broader support among a population they seek to represent.

* The nature of the organisation putting forth the grievance matters as well. Intelligence is important not only to prevent terrorist attacks but also to understand how the organisation works and how its decision making process can be affected.

* Political violence by itself can rarely achieve its aims, but it can sometimes do so in conjunction with less violent political action.

* By the same token, deterring terrorism and prosecuting terrorists may be insufficient to end terrorism, especially when a large population supports the terrorists' cause. In such situations, negotiated settlements may provide the only solutions.

* In Sri Lanka, the government appears to have concluded from its victory over the Maoist JVP that law enforcement and compulsion can end a terror campaign. However, the LTTE has a much broader base of support than the JVP ever did, and the LTTE is unlikely to go away simply through government-applied force.

* One of the most effective strategies at governments' disposal may be to split off pragmatists from radical rejectionists. Such efforts can diminish public support for the terrorists and deny them a strong base from which to operate.

* In the cases of the IRA and the PLO, the initiation of political negotiations has not conclusively ended terrorism, but it has swung public support behind a peaceful solution and helped diminish popular support for the terrorists.

* Making concessions to causes espoused by terrorists can arouse hostility from those who believe that terrorism is "being rewarded." Weak governments find it difficult to make such concessions.

* Peace overtures must be well-timed. Ideally, they should come at a time when the government is strong and the terrorist organization is undergoing a period of introspection. Good intelligence can make a difference in these cases.

*..So called 'get tough' measures against terrorist groups can have unintended consequences. Trying to 'decapitate' a movement may radicalise the whole movement or some splinter faction. Assassinations and military force can provoke a desire for revenge, and raids and arrests can reinforce martial images, create mythologies of martyrdom, or feed paranoia and secretiveness (which makes the movements even harder to penetrate for reasons of either understanding motivations or foiling actions).."

*...In the event that organisations are primarily motivated by a desire for recognition, how should policy makers respond? Should the government recognise the organisations and eliminate their motivation for terrorism? Since terrorist actions most often are considered newsworthy events my media organisations, it is beyond governments' control whether the actions gain attention or not. Governments can play an effective role, however, in influencing how terrorist events are portrayed to the public, and thus influence (but not control) how the public interprets those events.

* Money and weapons flow across borders and supporters of terrorism (if not the terrorists themselves) often have established bases in other countries. Increasingly law enforcement efforts aimed at stemming terrorism have an international component, and such a strategy will require more international cooperation.

And where conflicts relate to the fourth world, we also have research on constitutional models to help resolve conflicts. We have studies on federalism, confederalism and consociationalism. We have writings which ask what are federal solutions and others concerned with distinguishing between federalism and confederalism and yet others on comparative federalism and, of course, on the philosophy of federalism.

The Canadian based Forum of Federations provides an institutional platform to discuss federal models as the way to resolve conflicts; and the UNESCO periodically brings together international experts to examine at length the 'Implementation of the Right to Self Determination as a Contribution to Conflict Prevention'.

The Carnegie Project on Complex Power Sharing and Self Determination seeks to research 'novel ways of overcoming apparently insoluble self determination conflicts through complex power sharing arrangements concluded and implemented with international involvement.'

In the midst of all these outpourings, the words of Sardar K.M.Pannikar, Indian Ambassador to China from 1948 to 1952, and later Vice Chancellor, Mysore University in Principles and Practice of Diplomacy, 1956 help underline some age old constants -

"Foreign Ministers and diplomats presumably understand the permanent interests of their country.. But no one can foresee clearly the effects of even very simple facts as they pertain to the future. The Rajah of Cochin who in his resentment against the Zamorin permitted the Portuguese to establish a trading station in his territories could not foresee that thereby he had introduced into India something which was to alter the course of history. Nor could the German authorities, who, in their anxiety to create confusion and chaos in Russia, permitted a sealed train to take Lenin and his associates across German territory, have foreseen what forces they were unleashing. To them the necessity of the moment was an utter breakdown of Russian resistance and to send Lenin there seemed a superior act of wisdom...

'The public habit of judging the relations between states from what appears in the papers adds to the confusion. It must be remembered that in international affairs things are not often what they seem to be. ..A communique which speaks of complete agreement may only mean an agreement to differ. Behind a smokescreen of hostile propaganda diplomatic moves may be taking place indicating a better understanding of each other's position. ...

Sri Krishna, when he was being requested by Yudhistra to go as a special envoy to the Court of the Kauravas, was asked by Draupadi what his purpose was in undertaking so hopeless a mission. He replied,

'I shall go the Kaurava Court to present your case in the best light; to try and get them to accept your demands, and if my efforts fail and war becomes inevitable we shall show the world how we are right and they are wrong so that the world may not misjudge between us.'

All the secrets of diplomacy are contained in this statement of Sri Krishna...

'If my persuasion fails', said Krishna, I shall proclaim to the world your innocence and their crime. I shall make the world understand that you are fighting only for your rights'...

There are but few cases in history where both the parties to a conflict do not claim to have been forced into a defensive war. Whether the world accepts such a claim depends entirely on the success or failure of diplomacy.

In the case of the Pandavas, Sri Krishna's diplomacy was supremely successful even to the extent of causing dissensions among the Kaurava generals...''

But, then again, time does not stand still. In the 1970's Arthur Koestler wrote in Janus: A Summing Up:

" If I were asked to name the most important date in the history and prehistory of the human race, I would answer without hesitation 6 August 1945. The reason is simple. From the dawn of consciousness until 6 August 1945, man had to live with the prospect of his death as an individual; since the day when the first atomic bomb outshone the sun over Hiroshima, mankind as a whole has had to live with the prospect of its extinction as a species. We have been taught to accept the transitoriness of personal existence, while taking the potential immortality of the human race for granted. This belief has ceased to be valid. We have to revise our axioms..."

Today, 'mankind as a whole has had to live with the prospect of its extinction as a species' and if our past record is anything to go by, it will only be a question of time before enough of us will acquire the capacity to annihilate ourselves as a species.

President Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski warning in 1983 was perceptive -

".... the combination of demographic pressures and political unrest will generate particularly in the third world, increasing unrest and violence... The population of the world by the end of this century will have grown to some 6 billion people.... moreover most of the increase will be concentrated in the poorer parts of the world, with 85% of the world's population by the end of this century living in Africa, Latin America and the poorer parts of Asia....

Most of the third world countries... are likely to continue to suffer from weak economies and inefficient government, while their increasingly literate, politically awakened, but restless masses will be more and more susceptible to demagogic mobilisation on behalf of political movements... it is almost a certainty that an increasing number of third world states will come to possess nuclear weapons....

Terrorist groups may also before very long try to advance their causes through a nuclear threat... the problems confronting Washington in assuring US national security will become increasingly complex..." (Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977-1981 - Zbigniew Brzezinski)

President Bush's adventures in Iraq, some 20 years later, show that we continue to struggle 'by illusions towards ending conflict'. That we should so struggle is, perhaps, 'an excellent sign; for it shows that the truth behind the illusion is pressing towards the hour when it may become manifest as reality.' But our illusions should not divert us from paying attention to the words of Schumacher in Guide to the Perplexed -

"...In modern times there is no lack of understanding of the fact that man is a social being and that 'No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe' (John Dunne, 1571-1631). Hence there is no lack of exhortation that he should love his neighbour - or at least not to be nasty to him - and should treat him with tolerance, compassion and understanding. At the same time, however, the cultivation of self knowledge has fallen into virtually total neglect, except, that is, where it is the object of active suppression.

That you cannot love your neighbour, unless you love yourself; that you cannot understand your neighbour unless you understand yourself; that there can be no knowledge of the 'invisible person' who is your neighbour except on the basis of self knowledge - these fundamental truths have been forgotten even by many of the professionals in the established religions.

Exhortations, consequently, cannot possibly have any effect; genuine understanding of one's neighbour is replaced by sentimentality, which ofcourse crumbles into nothingness as soon as self interest is aroused...

Anyone who goes openly on a journey into the interior, who withdraws from the ceaseless agitation of everyday life and pursues the kind of training - satipatthana, yoga, Jesus Prayer, or something similar - without which genuine self knowledge cannot be obtained, is accused of selfishness and of turning his back on social duties.

Meanwhile, world crises multiply and everybody deplores the shortage, or even total lack, of 'wise' men or women, unselfish leaders, trustworthy counsellors etc. It is hardly rational to expect such high qualities from people who have never done any inner work and would not even understand what was meant by the words..."

Mahatma Gandhi did not put it differently -

"Non violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute. The spirit lies dormant in the brute, and he knows no law but that of physical might. The dignity of man requires obedience to a higher law - to the strength of the spirit.. The best and most lasting self-defence is self-purification... As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the World, as in being able to remake ourselves. We must become the change we wish to see in the world..."

We ourselves must become the change we wish to see in the world. Because, apart from everything else, our leaders are more representative of us than we may sometimes care to admit. And Dee Hock, Founding CEO, Visa International was right when he declared -

"...In a very real sense, followers lead by choosing where to be led. Where an organizational community will be led is inseparable from the shared values and beliefs of its members..."

And so was Jiddu Krishnamurthy -

"We can stop war once a sense of complete responsibility pervades the minds of one and all, including those not connected with a war but concerned with the survival of humanity that in some way or the other they have also contributed to the war.."

To the extent that each one of us have 'in some way or other' also contributed to war, each one of us has something to contribute to end war. We need to speak to each other, without fear, from our hearts - and we need to listen to each other with our hearts. Each one of us needs to dig deep to find the common ground that unites the heart and mind of each one of us - and find in that unity, the unity that unites us all. And then - we need to seek our own authenticity by matching what we say and what we feel with what we do. We need to pay more attention to the words of Peter Senge in his preface to Adam Kahan's 'Solving Tough Problems' -

"We are unable to talk productively about complex issues because we are unable to listen. ... Listening requires opening ourselves. Our typical patterns of listening in difficult situations are tactical, not relational. We listen for what we expect to hear. We sift through others' views for what we can use to make our own points. We measure success by how effective we have been in gaining advantage for our favored positions. Even when these motives are covered by a shield of politeness, it is rare for people with something at stake to truly to open their minds to discover the limitations in their own ways of seeing and acting.

Opening our minds ultimately means opening our hearts. The heart has come to be associated with muddled thinking and personal weakness, hardly the attributes of effective decision makers.

But this was not always so. "Let us bring our hearts and minds together for the good of the whole" has been a common entreaty of wise leaders for millennia. Indigenous peoples around the world commence important dialogues with prayers for guidance, in order that they might suspend their prejudices and fears and act wisely in the service of their communities...

When a true opening of the heart develops collectively, miracles are possible. This is perhaps the most difficult point of all to accept in today's cynical world, and I will not try to argue abstractly for what Adam illustrates so poignantly. By miracles I do not mean that somehow everything turns out for the best with no effort or uncertainty. Hardly. If anything, the effort required greatly exceeds what is typical, and people learn to embrace a level of uncertainty from which most of us normally retreat. But this embrace arises from a collective strength that we have all but ceased to imagine, let alone develop: the strength of a creative human community grounded in a genuine sense of connectedness and possibility, rather than one based on fear and dogma. ... The path forward is about becoming more human, not just more clever. "

The path forward is not about being clever. We can all be clever. The path forward is to be become more human.

Mail Us Copyright 1998/2009 All Rights Reserved Home