Conflicts present a chance to grow… to build relationships….
John Lederach1 teaches:
Conflict transformation is to envision and respond to the ebb and flow of social conflict as life-giving opportunities for creating constructive change processes that reduce violence, increase justice in direct interaction and social structures, and respond to real-life problems in human relationships.
Ellen Ott Marshall teaches:
Conflict transformation understands conflict itself to be a natural and necessary part of life. We live in an ecosystem in which the elements are changing and interrelated; therefore conflict is both natural and unavoidable.
Conflicts are presenting issues; to address them fully, one must reach deep and far. Applying this understanding of conflict to the work of mediation takes the process far beyond a mutual agreement related to the immediate issues in dispute. Conflict transformation practitioners utilize a broad range of tools, widen the circle of participants in a process, and aim to empower those participants in every way possible. This approach then also assumes transformation to be a gradual process, assisted by mutually beneficial agreements on discrete issues perhaps, but certainly not completed in them. The goal is the transformation of persons, relationships, communities, and structures. Conflict transformation practitioners assume a long arc; but they also work with a faith that we recognize as parallel to our belief that God is at work healing the world.
1 Lederach, John. The Little Book of Conflict Transformation: Clear Articulation of the Guiding Principles by a Pioneer in the Field. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2003.