facilitating change

– learning in times of challenge


This blog started in 2008. The Western world seemed to be finding its feet after multiple terrorist attacks at its centres: London and New York. The financial crisis had begun to wreak havoc and the US elected a black President. It was truly “The end of the world as we know it”.

In the spring of that year I was furiously finishing my dissertation on how neuroscience can inform mediation practice for my MSc in Conflict Resolution. I also attended a conference called WorldWork – an attempt to bring 450+ people together to raise their awareness of the psychological and perpetuating influences of human conflicts. The subject matter covered all manner of things, including:

  • The legacy of British Colonisation overseas, particularly India;
  • Challenges of acceptance within the gay community;
  • Institutional racism and the White Australia problem, (the Prime minister making a formal apology that year)
  • Urban “gang violence” in Switzerland, to name but a few

A great place for stimulation, and conflict…

In retrospect, its no surprise that I found myself the perpetrator of some unintended but very public sexism. Although we managed to work through it and find a mutually acceptable resolution, it was a very uncomfortable experience. (The world has an interesting way of teaching us lessons!)

Ten years on, I believe this experience was a glimpse of what many are grappling with today. How do we sit in our own discomfort and still find a way to connect, understand and find ways forward? This is the subject of this blog, not because I know the answer, but because I am interested in figuring out how to support myself and others through the quagmire of icky sticky yuckiness that comes when we are confronted with other people’s seemingly absurd convictions.

Now it’s 2019. Not only have Western democracies become more polarised, the rise of AI is bringing waves of uncertainty and change and we sit amidst the normality of smart phone use, social media bubbles and institutional distrust. It strikes me that none of these phenomena actually serve to make individuals feel more like an active participant in their society. Much less equipping them with the tools to look at how to engage and find as way through difference. The clashing of world views seems to hit a personal chord for people on all sides – people condemn whole persons for their political opinions (“deplorables” being a case in point). And it’s unlikely to get any easier in the near future.

This blog is for those who wish to facilitate these difficulties and find a way forward. It is therefore a forum primarily for learning, not convincing. To that end, courteous, personal and illustrative comments are welcome – others may be deleted.

For more infomartion about me, visit my website edwardjnelson.com.

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