Challenged by Elise Boulding’s observation that “a non-governmental initiative to start a global security system has never been accomplished” and Randall Forsberg’s observation that “a window of opportunity exists to end war in the next ten years,” ideas took root from my 30 years of experience of peace and justice work — experience in business and nonprofit leadership, education, counseling and consultation. The seeds that were sown in me as a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Liberia, West Africa were reaped twenty years later in a Master’s study in international peacebuilding and six years of development following the study — learning the practice of building global community in protracted conflict situations and other global challenges. I have been a citizen-diplomat in the United Nation’s nongovernmental community since 1992 and it seemed time to reflect on vocation and leadership to put all the pieces together.
Invited to attend a study group of peace scholars and activists to reflect on how war could be abolished over a four-month period, I was to offer commentary in the published proceedings. It was then that I began to formulate my thoughts on a global reconciliation service that would have a peacebuilding institute to train reconciliation leadership. I wrote a commentary, “The United Nations, Servant Leadership and a Peacebuilding Institute in Abolishing War: Dialogue with Peace Scholars Elise Boulding and Randall Forsberg” published by the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century in 1998. My partner, Joseph Baratta’s study, “An International Mediation and Conciliation Service: Background for a New Proposal,” and an invitation to participate in Global Education Associate’s 25th Anniversary Roundtable stimulated my thinking, which resulted in beginning thoughts being developed now as reconciliation leadership in A Vision for 21st Century Leadership in Breakthrough Magazine.
In her conflict management continuum (below), Dr. Elise Boulding shows the War of Extermination to Transformation. I add (and now she does, as well) “reconciliation.”
- War of Extermination
- Limited War
- Threat Systems
- Mutual Adaptation
Recent theorists and practitioners (including Dr. Boulding), have called for a new place on the continuum, reconciliation. The root word, conciliation, means bringing people together. Reconciliation is the restoration of an individual, group or nation to harmony or peace with its former adversaries. My own bias and assumption is that one will have had to be reconciled to one’s own inner conflicts first, before one can reconcile to another’s — and that personal peace is a first step to global peace.
I studied current reconciliation theory and practice, ethnic identity conflict, skills for the religious peacebuilder and designing and implementing conflict transformation at Eastern Mennonite University in 1999. I applied my learning to an organizational development study of a peacebuilding institute to serve the United Nations and the international community. Another assumption that I have is that the international community needs a vision for a new development model that would bring all the areas of intentional peacemaking together: capacity building; unofficial diplomacy; management of ethnic conflict; democratic peace proposition; nonviolence; and humanitarian aid.
I am looking for a theological construct and a felt experience of the Sacred that could be an overarching vision and offer reconciliation to heal the victim/dominator/rescuer model (that shows up as universal woundedness in people and systems), mutual understanding and acceptance between scholars and practitioners and other divisions of society as actors in the global arena: children and adults; men and women; weak and strong; rich and poor; north and south; and east and west.
With an overarching vision of linking personal and global peace to train Reconciliation Leaders, I have designed a curriculum for the peacebuilding Institute of Global Leadership where interpersonal and systemic competencies could be learned — from the personal to the global levels — by people who want to make a difference, but who are stopped by their own (and the system in which they work and lives’) limitations.