Category Archives: culture

When adult children return home

Brian Galbraith over at Ontario Family Law Blog had an informative post yesterday related to child support provisions in Ontario:

 What is alarming for divorced parents is that in Ontario you cannot get child support for an adult child living at home unless the child is unable to obtain employment because they are ill or are in school full time.

So what happens when your child has graduated from a post-secondary institution, can’t find work, so moves back home?  Well, child support just isn’t payable.  Look at the graphic below for some U.S. numbers on graduates moving back home:



As far as I can remember(!), this poem has nothing to do with mediation and conflict, but more with the aging process and our common fate.  It’s beautifully read here by its author, Billy Collins.

(H/T: Barry Briggs)

Transformative Dialogue Highly-Effective in Ethno-Political Conflicts

Dan Simon

In this post yesterday on his blog, Dan Simon draws from a White Paper by Erik Cleven published by the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation to review the three basic reasons transformative practice is highly-effective when applied to ethno-political conflicts.

1)  Ethically speaking, it’s not appropriate for an intervenor to presume to know what the appropriate goals of the intervention are, as intervenors often do in current peacebuilding frameworks.  Cleven points out that even such a noble goal as peace may be less important in some circumstances than the participants’ autonomy  – their opportunity to make their own decisions.

“If we [as intervenors] bring a framework for peacebuilding to a group of participants, we have already made important decisions about how to view the conflict, how to talk about it and what we ultimately want to do about it, without the involvement of the parties in these decisions. In fact, we are imposing these frameworks on the discussions, something which could result in topics that the participants deem to be important never
being discussed, or forcing them to talk about things they do not want to talk about.” 
(Cleven, p. 7)
2)  Next Cleven observes that an intervenor pushing for change can both endanger participants and foster changes that are not sustainable. He cites the example of the American Civil Rights movement, where important progress was made toward social justice.  But the progress that occurred in the 50’s and 60’s may not have been possible in the 20’s and 30’s – it would have been unhelpful and likely dangerous for an intervenor to have pushed protesters toward taking action earlier – the protesters themselves needed to make their own decisions about the risks, the potential benefits, and the other factors that weighed into their decisions about when and how to act.  As another example, an intervenor nowadays in Afghanistan might wish for women’s rights to be advanced – as Cleven does himself.  But it would be problematic, Cleven says, for him or other intervenors to push women there to take action, as that action could bring great harm to them under current conditions.

3)  Further, Cleven asserts that the transformative framework takes the relational aspect of peacebuilding much further by integrating it with the idea of party deliberation and decision-making.  He says this framework asks the question “Who needs to talk to whom about what and how?” Asking these questions of the participants leads to more meaningful answers. […]

Cleven then explains how an intervenor proceeds in this framework, with constant respect for participants’ autonomy, including especially their choices about when not to participate.

Cleven’s White Paper is available for purchase here by scrolling down to Who Needs to Talk to Whom About What and How? Transformative Dialogue in Settings of Ethnopolitical Conflict.

You can read Dan Simon’s post in its entirety here.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011, a Tribute to the Crazy Ones

Below is the first video, though it was never broadcast, in the Apple ad campaign, ‘Think Different’.  Steve Jobs himself does the voice-over and unquestionably now belongs among the greats who are featured.




Vodpod videos no longer available.

Walking from No to Yes


an elegant, simple (but not easy) way to create agreement in even the most difficult situations — from family conflict to, perhaps, the Middle East.

Please watch this 18 minute video of William Ury, co-author of “Getting to Yes”

Empathy and Humankind

According to its website,

The Royal Society of Arts in London.

Image via Wikipedia

For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress.  Our approach is multi-disciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action.

One of the RSA’s most interesting, and I daresay successful projects, is the animation of excerpts of lectures by prominent thinkers.

In the RSA animation below, economist Jeremy Rifkin talks about the soft-wiring of humans for empathy.  The excerpt is very rich with ideas and optimism for expanding the human family.  In it, he defines empathy as the acknowledgement of death and reaffirmation of life.  Many early political thinkers identified the fear of death and the concomitant instinct for self-preservation as driving forces for enlarging the family to society and cultures in order to protect individuals from the brutality, aggression and violence of human life.  What is quite interesting here is that starting with the discovery of mirror neurons, Rifkin takes the human coming-to-terms with death beyond nation-state consciousness and theological consciousness to something more universal and inclusive.

Vodpod videos no longer available.