Must We Fight? From the Battlefield to the Schoolyard, a New Perspective on Violent Conflict and Its Prevention

Must We Fight? From the Battlefield to the Schoolyard, a New Perspective on Violent Conflict and Its Prevention

Must We Fight? From the Battlefield to the Schoolyard, a New Perspective on Violent Conflict and Its Prevention

Must We Fight? From the Battlefield to the Schoolyard, a New Perspective on Violent Conflict and Its Prevention

Synopsis

The world struggles with violent conflicts that are unsolvable and inevitable, as if they were part of human nature. Not true, says William Ury, a world famous, best-selling author and top-level negotiator. In this encouraging and startlingly original book, he and several colleagues provide new research and insights into human behavior and human nature which show that we are not, in fact, doomed to violent conflict. He outlines an innovative program for personal and community empowerment called The Third Side, which shows how we can intervene-both as individuals, and within organizations-to support healthy conflict while preventing destructive confrontation. Praise for William L. Ury "William Ury is an acknowledged authority on negotiating in difficult situations." _ John Kenneth Galbraith "Bill Ury has a remarkable ability to get to the heart of a dispute and find simple but innovative ways to resolve it." _ President Jimmy Carter

Excerpt

No human problem is more pressing or more challenging than that of violence, the bodily harm that individuals, groups, and nations inflict on one another in the course of their conflicts. Tragically, violence abounds from school shootings to genocidal wars, from Columbine to Kosovo.

The questions naturally arise: Is violence an inherent and inevitable part of human life? Can it be prevented? In short, must we fight?

In October 1999 and September 2000, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School held two public symposia in which scholars from different disciplines sought to address these questions.

The first symposium, entitled “Violent human nature? Telling a new story, ” focused on new scientific insights into the human capacity for violence and peacemaking. “Human nature” is often invoked in political deliberation and popular discourse to explain brutal violence and why so little can be done to prevent it. Recent investigations in the fields of primatology, anthropology, and conflict resolution suggest quite a different picture of human nature with powerful implications for how we can prevent violence and wars today.

The meeting brought together representatives of three disciplines, each with a different lens on violence and human nature. Professor Frans de Waal of Emory University, an eminent primatologist, presented his research on aggression and reconciliation among primates. Professor Brian Ferguson of Rutgers University, a leading authority on the anthropology of war, described the archaeological evidence for early violence and war. Lastly, from the vantage point of conflict resolution, I offered some speculations about how our early ancestors may have dealt with their conflicts using the intervention of the surrounding community, the “Third Side.”

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