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Healing and Civility – What Mediation can Teach Us About Bridging Social Divides

First published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer ( on Dec. 11, 2020.

Even after the election results are finalized and the new President inaugurated, one thing will remain unresolved – the deep divide within the nation that the campaigns for the presidency confirmed.  It was not Biden v. Trump, or Democrat v. Republican; it was Socialist v. Fascist, Anarchist v. Racist, Stalin v. Hitler – and worse. The names shouted by all sides both revealed and inflicted a deep social wound in our nation that will be hard to mend – when 80 million people stand on one side of the divide and 74 million on the other.  

In the face of that divide, merely calling for “healing” and “unity” and “civility” will not bring us together.  But practical steps can be taken, based upon the methods of a field called conflict resolution, which uses approaches that are proven to help bridge  divides, at both the personal and group levels.  These methods include mediation and dialogue, which give support to the natural human process of social healing.  Those who would “bring us together” can learn several important lessons from the ideas and practices of good mediators and facilitators.  

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Robert Baruch Bush

Robert Alan Baruch Bush is the Harry H. Rains Distinguished Professor of Alternative Dispute Resolution Law at Hofstra University School of Law, Hempstead, New York. Together with Joseph Folger of Temple University he is the originator, and best known advocate, of the transformative model of mediation. MORE >


Thomas Wahlrab

Thomas Wahlrab is former Director of the Dayton Mediation Center, and former Executive Director of the Dayton Human Relations Council. Robert A. Baruch Bush is Co-Founder of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation, and the Rains Distinguished Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School, in New York. MORE >

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