Posts Tagged ‘conflict transformation’

Rethinking Political Protests

April 22, 2011 @ 3:57 PM
posted by Zarrin Caldwell

In Spring 2011, the wave of political resistance across the Middle East has gotten the world’s attention. Clearly, there are leaders that have been in office way too long and it’s time for them to go, but I’m concerned that the media has been so enthralled by all the “hype” (including using cell phones to organize protests) that they aren’t asking very critical questions about what it all means. Namely, is real social change and conflict transformation going to happen via protest? In my view,  that’s a last step, not the first.  Susan Glisson at the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation perhaps says it best: “The need for such locally focused, community-based conversations is tied to a basic principle of social change: effective social change occurs by focusing on local issues, using grassroots, nonviolent strategies.These first steps are followed by careful analysis of the problems and negotiation with stakeholders who can make a difference. Massive protests are actually a final step when all previous work has failed, not a first-strike response. In the absence of such work on the ground, massive protests fail.” A house won’t stand without a foundation.

Don’t get me wrong, social protests can be a tool for political change in the short term, but I think one has to look down the road for the success rate. The Orange Revolution in the Ukraine in 2004 brought democratic elections, but did it stem corruption, bridge ethnic-linguistic divisions, or lead to significant social and economic development? I’m not an expert on Ukraine, but I don’t think so. Protests may be one tool in the toolbox, but just one. We need to think so much bigger. It’s the longer-term building of relationships and trust that are going to create the social cohesion necessary to move societies beyond “us vs. them” dynamics which, one way or the other, ultimately fail. Creating community-based conversations about what matters is much harder work, which is why I suppose it doesn’t get that much attention. It’s not “sexy,” but it’s critical.

 

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Stories  of  Transformation

January 5, 2011 @ 4:26 PM
posted by Zarrin Caldwell

Gergo Nagy; from Gnome Art

Quite a few of my friends want to see “stories of transformation” on this site and I would love to feature more of those. I think this will happen in time, but it is sometimes difficult to unearth these stories from the grassroots. Most of my information at the beginning of this venture is still coming from international non-governmental organizations. Sadly, I am not in a position to make trips all over the world myself to collect these stories—wouldn’t that be nice?! I rely on the Internet and Skype calls to do most of my research, but am aware that so many people are still without such access. As part of the models featured on the site, I’d love input on getting more of those critical “heartfelt” stories! Do you have experience with the models featured to date in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, the Philippines, or the DRC? Add them to this blog!

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