I had the privilege of listening to a lecture by Ashok Pannikar, from Banglore, India today at the Mediator’s Beyond Borders Congress here in Los Angeles. The talk was called, “Why is Joe the Plumber Peeved? Mediating Minority Rights and Majority Fears”. It was a kind of “call to action” for mediators and those engaged in large-scale, global dialogue to reexamine our own biases and outdated world views. He reminded us that we are no longer in the 60’s, or even the 90’s. In fact, we may not be able to change the world, despite our unfailing optimism.
Changes in demographics, globalization, a prolonged recession and a generalized loss of identity and increasing alienation and isolation of people everywhere has created an infinite axis of evil where everyone becomes an enemy: outsiders, insiders (think Wall Street/Corporate America), minorities, majorities, rich, poor. All of this depressing analysis lead Pannikar to urge us to strive for transcendence, or the awe that is created where we connect with another in service of something greater than the individual needs or rights. Progress, he said, comes from the tension between what is and what can be.
With creativity, competence and effort, we have the capacity to experience, and guide others towards the awe that will be required of us to move to the next level of collaboration. Difficult to distill down to the nitty gritty of litigation, but we can aspire to shift the paradigm. Loved the concepts, the presentation, and being among such inspired speakers and attendees.