2015 Memories - A Kind of a DDI Newsletter - Part 4

Participant reflections on Deep Dempcracy approaches to polarization, tensions and conflicts 

DDI Intensive October 2015:  Power, love, war and miracles in Barcelona Spain 

We humans are typically at war with war. In learning an alternative, we took a deep dive into concepts, attitudes and methods for facilitating between warring/conflicting parties. War is. In the large group of 100+ people, we practiced Processwork’s Worldwork methodology as applied in a large group process. 

A group process is a way of getting a deeper feeling-understanding of the many diverse sides underneath a polarized issue, and allowing the tension between different opposed views to show their own solution. Physicists agree there is polarization in the universe, yet, new discoveries are showing how particles change identity and that within dark matter there is no polarization. Applied in the social sphere, the worldwork method helps deepen and intensify the interaction between positions by following carefully the sensory and feeling signals on each side of the conflict, and notice signs of a natural role switch until the interaction drops into essence beyond polarization, even for the slightest of moments. By slowing down at moments, and allowing opinions, tensions, and feelings to come out into the open, we can paradoxically speed up the cycling phase of conflict. 

Each morning, a different learning triad practiced facilitation skills in the round. The facilitators assisted the group to generate topics, gain group consensus on choosing a topic to go into, facilitate the unfolding and intensification of the polarization within the topic, notice and frame mood shifts, and appreciate the atmosphere when a feeling of commonalty pulls us together at the essence level beneath the polarization. The presence and interventions of the facilitators helped us open up to moments of temporary relief as a first step in a pattern change, and resist the temptation to recycle the conflict. 

The world work collaboration methodology uses awareness to bring out the polarizations in a conflict and allow identities to change. 

Arita from Latvia reflects on the role of conflict:

I witnessed how sometimes you have to escalate conflicts to reach peace. Saying ‘yes’ to power and conflict, allows the process to start and healing to begin. Linear ways of solving conflicts might help temporarily, but they do not get to the root of the problem. Voices get louder because no one is listening.  Start the conflict to avoid the war is counter-intuitive. By saying ‘Yes’ to escalation, I am not meaning raising voices. I mean getting to the essential meaning within the problem. With conflicting groups, even if the relief is temporary, it is a stimulus for personal growth and that has an affect. 

On one occasion, the DDI advanced student facilitation team from Ukraine facilitated our process on the polarization: Sitting in the fire of conflict versus escaping.

The social activist viewpoint insisted on constant focus on the goal, and fear of losing it, while the 'escapee' role expressed the oppressive feeling of being judged by the social activist insisting on her way of making change. In this group process, we learned there are many ways to sit in the fire of conflict and tolerate the heat, including living with the death of love ones.

On another occasion, one in the large group challenged the idea that a role switch is always possible in an extreme conflict. In a demonstration that followed, we heard a person occupying the land of another people, convinced of her right to live on someone else's land voice the position: 'I will never change'. Max, our teacher-facilitator noticed the stated position, and came right over to her side - feeling and naming centuries of oppression, that resulted in this position. He encouraged her to intensify her own position, and escalate it to its very essence. It took time talking back and forth gently. Nothing big was happening. Then the facilitator noticed and caught a subtle mood shift, a faltering, a tone change, and framed out loud the little shift in perspective. He noted: ‘This is not yet a big outer political success, but indeed a success - a relationship entry point to build on’. We witnessed in action how rigid positions are not necessarily solid positions. We only need to look around at political and financial systems that fall apart overnight to notice how rigidity and solidity are not the same thing.

Rather than trying to de-escalate and harmonise conflict, with the help of our faculty and student facilitators thought the Intensive, we did the opposite - each side intensifying and escalating its position to its essence, until a natural shift in feeling, mood and atmosphere occurred. Many felt it and were moved by it.  

Tuesday, 15. December 2015

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