Source: (2009) Peace and Conflict Monitor, January 2009.

While listening to news about the latest disasters from wars to terrorist attacks around the world, I sometimes fantasize about what would happen if, instead of dropping bombs on civilian populations, mediators by the tens of thousands were parachuted into war zones to initiate conversations across battle lines; if, instead of shooting bullets, we organized public dialogues and shot questions at each side; if, instead of mourning the loss of children’s lives by visiting equal or greater losses on the children of the enemy, we became surrogate mourners, turning every lost life into the name of a school, hospital, library, road, or olive grove, dedicated to those who died because we lacked the skills to get along. I realize these are wishful fantasies, yet within their whimsy lies a startling truth that surfaces when we ask: what would we do after parachuting in once we hit the ground? We can then begin to see that it is possible for us to have an impact, even on the willingness of embittered, intransigent opponents to avoid war and terrorism by building people’s capacity to promote alternative ways of expressing, negotiating, and resolving their differences. I began referring to this idea as “Mediators Beyond Borders.” (excerpt)

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