Beauty in the eye of the be-hind.

July 21, 2008

On the lighter side of the law… I thought this article was pretty funny in its irony:

Can’t show underwear law

“Be careful if you have saggy pants in the south Chicago suburb of Lynwood.

Village leaders have passed an ordinance that would levy $US25 ($25.70) fines against anyone showing three inches (7.62 centimetres) or more of their underwear in public.

Young adults in the village, like 21-year-old Joe Klomes, say the new law infringes on their personal style. He says leaders should instead spend money on making the area look nicer.” (source)

Hehe. I guess the village leaders believe they are making area look nicer – by covering up the likes of Mr. Klomes’ butt.


Making love for peace.

May 20, 2008

Hmm. We can’t always pick and choose what works… We can’t always control how conflict resolution will happen… Which is why open-mindedness is so important.

I present this:

Make love not war: Israeli adult Web site promotes reconciliation in new way shows amateur pornography only featuring Israeli Arabs and Jews.

There is one place in the Middle East where Arabs and Jews seem to be getting along quite well. It’s the Israeli Web site, where amateur pornography features Arabs and Jews at each other’s throats – but only for erotic purposes.

Founded by two Tel Aviv computer professionals, the Web site has been serving up such X-rated fare as “Kosher Lesbians,” “The Rabbi’s Daughter” and “Sex Party in Jerusalem” since 2001. Parpar1 has hundreds of hours of video porn featuring amateur performers. It is a pay service that can be accessed on the Web or via mobile phone. (haaretz)

If a bumper sticker can communicate…

March 16, 2008

Walking through a residential Jerusalem neighborhood today, I spotted this Israeli bumper sticker I thought I’d share:

Israeli bumper sticker
“Ze lo yigamair ad she’nidabair”
“It won’t end until we talk”

While I’m not so interested in bloodying myself with Palestinian Israeli politics at the moment (it’s too pretty of a day), I do want to mention how true this statement is for any conflict – especially our own personal ones.

For instance, how often have I thought I disliked someone until I had a meaningful conversation with them? We all go through this and it seems that we all forget the power of communication until we find ourselves doing it.

Just can’t communicate that enough!

A little insight for a long road ahead.

February 11, 2008

For the past few months I’ve been consumed by the idea that something bad is going to happen in my life. Disastrously bad. Things have just been too good for the last couple years.

And then it hit me yesterday: Maybe things have been so good because before they were good, they were really really bad. Maybe because I spent most of the beginning of this century involved in detrimental relationships, hazy thinking and constant running away, these years are absolutely heavenly when in reality they are just – normal. Blissfully, wonderfully normal.

It kicked off with the fact that I have actually applied my life lessons to my daily life. I’ve developed all kinds of techniques for dealing with emotional pain – no, not defense mechanisms, not anymore – and those mantras, exercises and thought processes have helped me to pave the way to developing some real life wisdom.

The question for me now is where to go from here.

I’ve been living with a false sense of reality when it comes to taking all this life experience and turning it into a career. I’m no certified psychologist, social worker or guidance counselor. In this day and age, wisdom is measured by university degrees, not life experience, and if that is the case, I’m just not going to ever measure up; I’m not interested in studying from text books what my own life has taught me.

So how am I ever going to make it in the field of helping people?

My husband puts it in perspective somewhat. He told me that there are all kinds of outlets for pursuing the business of helping people; certification is not the only way to succeed, especially if I’m uncomfortable with the idea of certification and therapy-as-business.

Do I go the route of my mother, who is an emotionally intelligent psychologist trapped in the body of an early intervention professional? The fact is, she probably gives more and better advice to the parents of these kids than any other therapy would… and she sincerely enjoys it.

Do I go the route of my husband, who is a contemplative behavioral scientist trapped in the body of a teacher? He relishes in passing on life wisdom to his students, who are at the age when they are more than happy to lap it up.

Maybe I’m supposed to be a personal assistant. Maybe I’m supposed to be writing novels. Maybe I’m supposed to be satisfied with being a good friend to those in conflict. Or maybe that’s a cop-out and I need to truck on until I’m a certified something with a proper title.

I’m not sure what will satisfy me… But I need to grow accustomed to the idea that just because my mediation degree is disappointing – just because I feel ill-prepared to pursue the mediation field in this country – I can still share my experience with the people around me, and of course, with myself.

The question is how to manifest all this, not if.

Baby steps for 2008.

January 1, 2008

This morning, I got an email from OneVoice with this graphic:

OneVoice Happy New Year

Translation: “We will make an end to the conflict – because that is what is good for Israel.”

The graphic is heartwarming and all. Yes, hopefully we will see some progress. Progress, not miracles. I do think it’s important to keep optimistic with a dash of realism. Heartwarming is good.

That’s all I can really say: Baby steps for 2008.

The feminine side of conflict and management.

December 24, 2007

There are people who say that if the world was run by women, we’d all be at peace. I think they say that because we’ve never seen it yet…

But I do think that we can credit women with something incredible: Women have this ability to transform conflict, even when they are poised at the center of it.

At today’s mediation session, the two official disputants were men. Each man brought with him a woman – one, his wife, and the other, his mother-in-law.

At first, both women backed their man’s charges, adamantly and fiercely. But over the course of the five and a half hour session, both women showed hints of transformation first. I would categorize it like this:

  1. Loyalty – strength phase
  2. Panic – introspective phase
  3. Resolution – strength phase

I notice this pattern in my own relationship with my husband. Often, I’m the one who gets more riled up and passionate when he finds himself in a dispute. My loyalty to his cause usually gets him worked up more than he might normally. Together, we enter a space of conflict.

We get to the panic – introspective phase together, but I’m the one who speeds through it. The last phase, resolution – strength, washes over me like cleansing waters, and I find myself as calm – strong as I was passionate – strong in the first phase.

At this point, I think women serve as guides to cross the male disputants over that bridge to resolution. I think the women see it first and the women don’t mind bursting the bubble sooner.

That’s how I watched it happen today, and I felt like I was looking into a mirror as I watched my fellow girlkind go through these steps to management and resolution. Until today, I thought I was alone (and crazy), switching from phase to phase like that, passion to calm.

I guess that’s why people also say that women are fickle (for better or worse…)

The human tradition of mediation.

December 24, 2007

We’ve been surrounded by mediators since we were young:

When we fought with our siblings, are parents were the judges. 

When the other kids at school didn’t play fair, our teachers were the arbitrators.

When our relationships fall apart, our friends are the advisers. 

Where there is society, there is conflict, and where there is conflict, there have always been mediators, in one way or another.

It’s an age-old practice that’s existed as long as human beings have been communicating and as long as there has been communication, there has been misunderstanding. 

Today I was invited by my department to sit in on a real mediation session. I learned a lot from watching it all spread out in front of me, live:

  • It’s better for mediators to sit across from all disputants as opposed to at the head of the table.
  • Explain the process to participants and they will take the process on themselves.
  • Partner with a mediator of the opposite sex for family cases.
  • It’s important to know when to take a break and when to let the momentum roll.
  • Take culture into account, but don’t assume; just be open to culture being present.
  • Never underestimate the power of women around a negotiation table.

What I learned, more than anything today, is that it would be an honor to serve society as a mediator and continue this human tradition.