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Introducing The Transformers: Interviews with People Doing Conflict Transformation - BCB #18
“Not no conflict, but better conflict”
We founded the Better Conflict Bulletin on the belief that good conflict can exist, which is why we are happy to launch a unique new podcast, where we interview people who are actually doing the work to make conflict better. We’re calling it The Transformers, after the idea of conflict transformation, which is central to this blog.
Conflict transformation is a different approach to conflict, based on some fundamental premises:
Conflict is normal, not some unusual or extraordinary state. It’s part of how societies change for the better.
Often, people fight because something is wrong. Conflict is intimately bound up with justice, and long-standing structural problems.
But conflict can be either constructive or destructive, or perhaps “healthy” and “unhealthy.”
Unlike conflict resolution, the goal of conflict transformation isn’t to end conflict, but to make it better in some way – for example, less violent and more likely to lead to necessary changes.
In light of how central conflict transformation is to BCB, we are excited to present The Transformers podcast series, where we will be talking to people who are working on making the American conflict better in various ways. We’ll include peacebuilders who are mediating difficult conversations between Red and Blue, but also teachers who try to train their students in conflict skills, journalists who are committed to being trusted by all sides, and technologists asking what platforms can do to help.
We’ll begin next week with an interview with Mike Wasserman of the Constructive Dialogue Institute. We hope to introduce new ideas, make new connections, and expand the community of people who are passionate about better ways to approach conflict. There’s a lot more to come; stay tuned!
More On That
John Paul Lederach is a pioneer in the field, having worked in violent conflicts all over the world. This short book remains the best introduction we know to the ideas and practice of conflict transformation. Also available in video form.
Conflict management gives the tools to mitigate conflict’s destructive potential, conflict resolution tries to form an agreement that ends a crisis, and finally, conflict transformation does not merely try to reach a solution but attempts to address the underlying systemic problems.
This action guide seeks to build bridges between peacebuilding and nonviolent action practitioners – those working for peace and those working for justice – so that both methods are used strategically and effectively on the path toward conflict transformation.
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Seldom have we seen such a repository of practical, field-tested conflict advice. This new guide from digital peacebuilding specialists Build Up includes detailed strategies for a variety of goals, including addressing on-platform harms, to building social cohesion, to using data science for conflict analysis.
The Justice Department is charging some of those responsible for last year’s Capitol breach under a rarely-used seditious conspiracy law. This trial is likely to be extremely polarizing, but if anyone really planned a violent attack in advance, it’s these guys.
A reform of the Electoral Count Act has received bipartisan support in Congress. Passing it might clarify confusions in US electoral law that became apparent in the last presidential election. For example: this bill makes clear that the Vice President can only tally the votes and has no power to change them.
Quote of the Week
Reconciliation is not to quickly forgive and forget, as if it never happened or we somehow are gifted with a form of amnesia. Reconciliation requires that we remember and change, but with honesty about our experience and curiosity about the humanness of the other whom we fear.