Understood as the point from where we see, the word, ‘Vantage’ can aid us in unpacking the systems in which we are, to a large extent inert non-participants in our own wellbeing.
So, continuing from what we have been unpacking, medicine is largely done to us or for us and not with us. Justice is largely done to us or for us and not with us. Education is largely done to us or for us and not with us. In the same vein, parenting, the workplace, economics and politics are largely done to us or for us and not with us.
Vantage, as the place from which we see, works best the higher we are. The more we rise, the more we see. If I have the advantage, at a rudimentary level, it may mean that I can see more than you and thus may be able to benefit more than you. If I have the disadvantage, at a rudimentary level, it may mean that I am in a lower place than you and can therefore not see what you can see and may not be able to benefit precisely because I cannot see what you can see.
Our systems advantage some (raise some to a higher place where they can see more and benefit more by that expanse of seeing) and disadvantage others (keep them in a place where they can see less and are unable to benefit by that expanse of seeing). These are often artificially crafted vantage positions and the artificiality is most often a product of economic prowess or economic lack. We can be artificially heightened to expansive seeing in ways that help us to gain way more than what we need. We can also be artificially lowered to places of limited seeing in ways that we are unable to meet our basic needs.
Most of our social systems do this: some are artificially ad-vantaged (given a great view) and others are artificially dis-advantaged (lowered into a dark place with no way of seeing what we need to see).
Whilst our systems artificially foster ad-vantage and dis-advantage, we will continue to see in parts. Seeing in parts rather than seeing the whole, hardly ever gets us what we need.
ADR processes like mediation, well-located within restoration and transformation can help us to be empowered agents in systems that affect us and in ways that we can participate in creating what we need.
ADR processes can help to raise us all so that we are each able to see more.
[i] With thanks and apologies to Charles Dickens
[ii] For previous blogs: ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN THE TIME OF COVID 19 | ADR Network SA (adr-networksa.co.za) and ADR, HUMAN RIGHTS AND COVID-19 | ADR Network SA (adr-networksa.co.za) and LOCKDOWN-RELATED DISPUTES AND THE ROLE OF ADR | ADR Network SA (adr-networksa.co.za)
[iii] Kenneth Cloke, ‘Politics, Dialogue and the Evolution of Democracy’