Estranged Relatives: Mediation and Nonviolent Direct Action (A Conversation between Ched Myers and Elaine Enns)

Wednesday, 1 January 2003

Mennonite Conciliation Quarterly, Winter. 4 pp.

Elaine: Ched and I met at a peacemaking conference in 1997 where both of us were speaking. We sat in on each other’s sessions, appreciated each other’s work and began an interesting dialogue concerning how best to mitigate violence in our society. What we discovered was that our respective “worlds”—Ched’s among activists and mine among mediators—tended to spin in different orbits. On the whole, those practicing nonviolent direct action and those doing victim-offender or other kinds of mediation rarely talk to each other. We are aware of each other’s work, but tend to keep a wary—and not always respectful—distance from each other. While we share much of the same analysis around the epidemic of violence in our society, we each think that our nonviolent skills-set and to intervention is more important.

Ched: I think my experience is not untypical. Before meeting Elaine I’d worked for 25 years in the field of active nonviolence, involved in all kinds of different peace and justice campaigns, from disarmament to immigrant rights, from community organizing to international solidarity. I had collegial relationships with local, regional and national organizations; had worked with various forms of direct action, civil disobedience and public liturgy (marches, sit-ins, blockades, boycotts, trespass, war tax resistance, Sanctuary refugee smuggling, labor strikes, etc.); and taught and trained nonviolence. Yet in all this, I could count on one hand the times I had talked at length—much less collaborated with—someone in the mediation and conflict resolution field.

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by Ched Myers

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