Find Mediators Near You:

Conflict and Culture on a Voyage to Mars

Conflict Remedy Blog by Lorraine Segal

A fictional voyage to Mars offers valuable lessons about resolving conflicts across differences.

I recently watched Away, a beautiful miniseries about a near future journey to Mars. It was a suspenseful adventure drama, and, an inspiring model of effective Intercultural collaboration and successful conflict management.

Survival depends on understanding and working together

In this Mars scenario, 5 astronauts: two women, one from U.S. and one from China, and 3 men, from Russia, Ghana/Great Britain, and India respectively, must live and work together in a small spaceship for three years. They are all brilliant and highly accomplished astronauts. They clash over culture, politics, and how to handle emergencies, but come to appreciate each other deeply. They successfully face many dangerous problems that none of them can resolve alone. They would not have survived without working together and contributing their particular skills and experience, both professional and life wisdom.

So what are the key takeaways around conflict and communication?

  • We need each other. No one can survive or flourish alone.
  • Because of this interdependence, we have to listen and learn to appreciate each others’ strengths, even when we don’t agree.
  • Lying and withholding creates mistrust while compassion, honesty, and vulnerability create bonds of trust.
  • We are more alike than different. Our human needs, our grief and sorrows, our joy, our curiosity and drive transcend particular cultures, prejudices, nationalism.

Spoiler Alert Don’t read this final paragraph if you don’t want to know the final scene of the miniseries! 

The astronauts do finally make it to Mars. The various governments have agreed the Chinese woman will land first and be photographed alone. But she recognizes, as the Russian astronaut tells her, “There are no borders. There is no Motherland.” So, she makes a different choice.The iconic photo broadcast all over the world is not of one Chinese astronaut with a reflective screen on the front of the helmet, so you can’t even see if it is a man or a woman, but all five of them together, faces visible, smiling exuberantly at their extraordinary shared accomplishment on behalf of the whole world.


Lorraine Segal

After surviving the 50's and 60's, as well as twenty years in toxic academia as a tenured professor, Lorraine Segal was inspired to started her own business, Conflict Remedy (, happily teaching, coaching, blogging and consulting around workplace conflict transformation. She is addicted to reading novels and enjoys walking and… MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


Mistakes Made By Mediators — Part Three

From the Mediation Matters Blog of Steve Mehta. Worrying About Getting Business During Mediation              Once you are in a mediation, you cannot worry about what your actions will do...

By Steve Mehta

Collaborative Law Makes Messy Divorce Thing of the Past

(ANS) -- Married for 10 years, Carol had been through years of couples counseling with her husband to no avail. "We had what you might call irreconcilable differences," she said....

By American News Service

Asking for Help When in Conflict

Conflict Management Coaching Blog by Cinnie NobleAsking for Help When in Conflict Pooh is a lot smarter than I am. I admit – I am reticent to ask for help...

By Cinnie Noble