Shifting Paradigms

Holla,

 

I blog in peace. Today is the second day of our ADR Program at Rhodes University. What a pleasure and an honour to be in such a beautiful town, just steeped in history and widely know as something of a mecca in education. As a mediator and a bridge-builder one of the delights of my job is the people I get to meet. And what an inspiration it has been to be in the company of 17 Academics (one from the University of the North West) from a wide array of disciplines from psychology and commerce to science. Not only have we encountered great minds, but warm engaging personalities with fabulous senses of humour. And as someone with a black belt in funny, the latter always impresses me!

Anyway, on to all things dispute resolution. We are all about shifting pradigms and resisting mindsets that perpetuate unjust systems. Our view is that a strong emphasis on adversarial modes of dispute resolution be it in the courts, workplaces or schools, perpetuates cultures of conflict that exist and actually lead to a downward spiralling of cycles of conflict. Just between you and me, if it were up to me and my karate moves, I would take the entire adversarial system down altogether.

However, it’s not a simple case of the courage and physical prowess of one single mortal, and so I am committed to being part of a movement that seeks to sensitize the whole of society around alternative methods of resolving disputes.

 

And so we arrived in Grahamstown on Sunday night, single-minded and committed to our view of justice. That is that justice is most fully accomplished where there is a restoration of the template. In other words, both sides of the dispute are restored to something of a peacable state of mind. It’s a big topic and I will write more fully on our concept of justice in the coming months.

In accomplishing the above, I don’t believe adversarial systems are ever the most effective platforms for the accomplishment of justice. Where disputants are pitted against each other, either in court or other adversarial processes, such as disciplinary enquiries, the process simply does not maximise opportunities for learning, growth and behavioural change.

We have found at Rhodes, that even before our arrival, there has been something of a paradigm shift and a move toward reconciliatory processes. Existing applications of mediation already are both significant and effective. We are so encouraged that this organization which is literally pregnant with future leaders, is yearning for a better way and is serious about reconciliatory and other alternative modes of dispute resolution.

We sadly said goodbye to Adam and Hilton today. Our bed and breakfast feels a little empty right now. But the good news is, we get to spend three more days with the beautiful people at Rhodes. And we get to dine at the French Quarter tonight! Adam and Hilton who? Just kidding guys, you know we love you!

To find out more about our Correspondence Programs or Workshops, please email adr@mediatorsa.co.za

For information on mediation or arbitration processes, send an email to info@mediatorsa.co.za

To engage with me further, email me on sheena@mediatorsa.co.za or follow me on twitter @sheena_ostjon

 

Until next time, peace!

Sheena Jonker

 

 

 

 

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