Hi Friends, this is nice short reflection on how we overcome the divisions that kill. I am reposting it for all of you to reflect on.
Stepping Toward: The Dance Step of Peacemaking
The greatest lesson I learned about peacemaking came from my personal experience in relationship. It was a time many years ago when my partner and I were having some small struggles that loomed large for us at the time.
It took one session with a wise counselor to move us back into intimacy with each other. Our one therapy session left us with this sage advice: “When you find yourself distancing from someone you are in relationship with, ask yourself, ‘what can I do to get closer to this person?'”
It is a simple lesson that both my partner and I have taken into the peacemaking and facilitation work we each do. The dance step of conflict, is the step-by-step movement away from each other that grows from fear and defensiveness. We move away from each other to protect ourselves, to guard our positions and to maintain our agendas.
It is at the critical point of distancing from each other that we can make this profound choice to ask instead, “What can I do to get closer to this person?” The party that chooses to step toward instead of stepping away is taking the first critical step into the dance step of peacemaking.
In global relationships, it is common practice to isolate or shun those whose behaviors we do not like. The presumption is that somehow, by pushing them outside the global community, their behavior may change. In international relationships there is little evidence that the distancing steps of breaking off diplomatic relationships, recalling ambassadors, and imposing social and economic embargos ever serve to fundamentally change behaviors by repressive regimes.
In peacemaking and development work, it is a useful practice to inventory the relationships that we are avoiding. Is this avoidance bringing any reconciliation or any healing to broken circumstances? Is it perhaps our own fear and defensiveness that drives our distancing rather than any moral superiority?
The dance step of peacemaking is stepping toward. It involves the risks of choosing to remain in a relationship even if we do not condone the actions of those we are in relationship with. It is possible to stay in relationship, to continue dialogue and to thereby be a voice for positive change even in the darkest of circumstances.
The dialogue of distancing is a dialogue that points away from peacemaking instead of toward it. It is a dialogue that slowly shuts itself down until only a monologue is left. In personal and global relationships we can choose the dance step of peacemaking instead of the dance step of distancing.