“Aikidation” (The Peaceful Martial Art of Mediation) by Ben J. Cunningham

The roles of mediators are varied and numerous: In the course and context of a single mediation session we might act as facilitators, counselors, conciliators, teachers, referees, diplomats, sages, idea generators, evaluators, moderators, negotiators, crisis intervention experts, detectives and psychologists, all while remaining an unbiased neutral in the dispute. The mediator is charged with the responsibility of providing a process and forum to resolve, manage, or transform conflicts. The profession of a mediator is not easily learned, nor is it easy once learned, and despite years of never-ending training and experience the mediator, no matter the skill level, strives continually (or rather, should strive continually) for and toward mastery. While training is critical and necessary, all the training in the world is only as good as our ability to incorporate what we learn theoretically into practical application based on our individual styles, experience, and personalities, coupled with the specific dynamics of the matter with which a mediator is dealing. Mediators are “peacemakers,” but that word often and inaccurately connotes passivity. The effective peacemaker is anything but passive; an effective “peacemaker” is not averse to conflict—to the contrary, the most effective mediators and conflict managers must learn to enter into conflict and embrace it, without becoming part of it. The more we learn about conflict resolution processes, human nature, the intricacies of specific disputes, and techniques for dealing with conflict, the better peacemakers we will become. The successful mediator is in fact a warrior, a warrior for peace. WHAT IS A WARRIOR FOR PEACE? First, what a warrior for peace is not. I insert here a personal note: Once upon...