Natural Conflict Resolution

By Filippo Aureli; Frans B. M. De Waal | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 4
Law, Love,
and Reconciliation

Searching for Natural Conflict Resolution in Homo Sapiens
Douglas H. Yarn

A Medieval Tale of Reconciliation

The time is the late thirteenth century; the place, England. Geoffrey and Edward, (very) minor nobility with adjoining plots of land, were disputing. How it all began is unclear, but it did involve some wandering grazing cattle, the building of a stone wall, and the subsequent demolition of the same. The escalation of events caused great consternation to Geoffrey, who considered Edward to have always been a reliable and supportive neighbor. They had assisted each other in clearing fields, shared tools, sat at each other's tables, and shared food. They had known each other all their lives, as had their fathers and their fathers' fathers. Their wives were distantly related. To complicate matters further, Edward was a big man known to have a violent and quick temper. Despite his fears and misgivings, Geoffrey confronted Edward in the village one day. Angry words were exchanged, and they would have come to blows had the villagers not intervened. The dispute became the talk of the village, and the community itself split as members sided with the antagonists. Friends and family discouraged them from violence and entreated them not to refer the matter to law. Eventually, the local priest called for a “loveday, and Geoffrey and Edward agreed. Each selected a friend, and together these two friends retired to discuss the matter and devise a mutually acceptable solution. After several failed attempts, a compromise was reached. The former disputants embraced and were reconciled. An audible sigh of relief arose from the village.


A Modern Tale of Litigation

The time is the late twentieth century, somewhere in the United States. Jeff and Ed are neighbors in a

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