At home, when my wife or children used to occasionally get into a tiff with someone, and wanted to use me as a sounding board, I would listen to their grievances, and then ask, “who wants to resolve that conflict the most?” That’s the person who will make peace first.
I wonder if this idea will fly on the world stage. Taking perhaps the most bitter dispute I can think of as an example of how this would work–the Israeli Palestinian conflict–here are my questions to each side for a peaceful resolution:
1. Are you willing to create and implement a win-win solution, at least in principle? It may not be possible but is it your goal?
2. Are you willing to concentrate on how things are now, in the present, and seek a solution that works for both parties now?
3. Are you willing to ask for forgiveness for wrongs you have committed and are you willing to forgive wrongs done to you?
4. Are you willing to sincerely question your own motives, assumptions and beliefs, and submit to correction when you are wrong?
5. Are you willing to first agree on general principles that will govern your solution, rather than fighting over particulars?
6. If you cannot say “yes” to all the previous questions, are you willing to agree to disagree on some points while finding others that you both agree on?
7. If all of the foregoing fails, then who has the biggest guns and the most willingness to use them? Because that is the next step.
So when you hear the words “peace process” don’t be terribly surprised when it blows up.