The parties begin to identify with each other. As they expand their
own identifications to include one another, they are laying the
foundation for problem-solving together. Again, it is essential to
take this time to understand the relationship, and overcome the old
tendency to "not waste time."
The fourth stage has the participants examining together how to deal
with a practical problem. In this process, they further experience
the relationship itself. One approach could be to divide into
subgroups to create scenarios and their stepwise implementation,
describing how each party's interests would be affected, and how
resolution and reconciliation would be served. The group could then
choose its favorite scenario and course of action.
Stage Four: Experiencing the Relationship by Thinking Together
This collective thinking can lead the group as a whole to change
systemic flaws or get around obstacles. Perhaps only one step can be
taken, but in time that may make further steps possible. But now a
new relationship and process is in place for further progress.
Many dialogues stop at this point, if they get this far at all. Some group
participants may share their insights with policy makers; others take
fresh understandings into their own constituencies; still others see
their work together as establishing a model for others.
The ultimate group experience would be to move out from such meetings
and act together to have a concrete impact - to change the
relationship and effect a visible social outcome. They could carry
out scenarios proposed in Stage Four; take their fresh understandings
to community institutions; creatively interact with government
officials; or implement the Five Step Public Peace Process with an
expanded group of new citizens. The parties, to some degree, have now
experienced transforming blame into responsibility, enemies into
partners. They have modeled the process of dialogue and
reconciliation, thus dispersing this practice into their diverse,
Stage Five: Acting Together
This page is derived from the work of Dr. Harold Saunders and from his definitive 1999 book -- A PUBLIC PEACE PROCESS: Sustained Dialogue to Transform Racial and Ethnic Conflicts, 1999, by St. Martin's Press, described at http://traubman.igc.org/thebook.htm.
Equally definitive is Sanders' 2005 256-page book, Politics Is about Relationship: A Blueprint for the Citizens' Century, by
Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group
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