Friday, July 8, 2016

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Recent shootings by law enforcement caught on video and now snipers taking out police officers have me thinking of the refrain from Rodney King, "Can we all get along?" Though now almost a quarter century ago, it seems like the LA riot events was last time we really had a national debate about police brutality and racial injustice. Peacemakers such as Doug Noll, with whom I've taken courses at the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, remind us that neuroscience has established an irrefutable fact: human beings are emotional, not rational. Still, we have a belief that humans are distinguished from all other creatures because of their rationality. To be irrational is to be something less than human. People engaged in peacemaking long assumed that despite the emotions of conflict, people are fundamentally rational. The truth is, we are ninety-eight percent emotional and about two percent rational. Research demonstrates that we must strive to be far more aware of neuropsychological factors of human conflict. Noll believes these factors explain much about conflict behaviors. They also provide insights about new interventions in intractable conflicts. Conflict starts with a problem serious enough to cause anxiety, reflected in a feeling of insecurity. When anxiety or insecurity is first experienced, he says we have a choice between reactivity and reflection. If we do not make a choice, Noll says our default mode is to be reactive. By being reactive, we might reject the problem, give up, or feel inadequate to deal with the problem. If the problem is persistent, we might struggle or exit. As the conflict develops, we perceive it as a threat, and we may blame, attack or withdraw. These behaviors constitute our fear reaction system. If the choice for reflection is made, we have learned to reflect, relate, and relax. The insecurity arising from a conflict situation is recognized as pointing to a pathway of growth towards greater peace and self-realization. The brain's altruistic, cooperative social attachment systems actually allow us to be compassionate, tolerant, and exhibit loving-kindness. Perhaps through this, we can engage in conflict resolution and achieve peace. See more here-- and