Be a mediator, lead the way to peace

Peace doesn’t just happen. The Dali Lama said, “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” We have to work at it. There are skills and techniques that people can learn to help their lives become more peaceful, and if we don’t have the time to learn them right now, we can find someone who knows them and learn from them or hire them to help me out.

The focus of this article is on resolving conflicts with other people. Because each of us is a unique person with a unique set of experiences in life, we see things a little differently from each other, even those we love or like a lot. When two best buddies think very differently about something and have to come to an agreement about what to do, the conversation can be difficult, but doesn’t have to be.

Once you find out, through your conversation that you see things very differently, you could say, “I respect you, and know that you think this way because of your past experiences. I will listen to your reasons for wanting to choose xxx. Then I would like for you to listen to my reasons for wanting to choose yyy. Then perhaps we could choose the best from both of them.”

Be thankful that your friend is showing you another way to think about something. You already knew your way. Now you are smarter and can see another way.

Often we get into conflict with people who aren’t our friends. Mediation can help. I feel very blessed that I was able to work with Ms. Jessie Basquez and Ms Sonia Song as 13 caring and bright students attended a class on peer mediation at Waimea High School on Wednesday. Jessie is the director of Kauai Economic Opportunity’s Mediation Program and both Sonia and I are volunteer mediators for that program.

 All of the students had a chance to say why they “showed up” for the class. Most said that it was to help others with their conflicts and help end the “endless drama” that some of them are aware of. In one day, they were able to learn mediation skills to help make this happen. They understood that negative emotions come from a person’s basic needs not being met. They learned to be a LEADER

L-isten, E-motions (help others know and express them), A-sk questions that help disputants come up with a better understanding of the other’s side, or even their own needs, D-on’t interrupt, E-mpathize (imagine how the other person feels) R-ephrase (summarize or put the statement in a respectful form what one disputant said to the other side).

They learned that mediators are neutral and don’t take sides. They enforce the mediation ground rules of treating each other respectfully with no put-downs, not interrupting and keeping things said in the mediation confidential.

They were blessed with a visit from Kapaa High School. Kapaa has had a peer mediation team for a long time. This is the seventh year that Mr. Keith Kitamura has been their coach/teacher. They are a busy group and a close-knit ohana. They showed a video of the projects that they have undertaken, which involves trips to elementary and middle schools, speaking at the East Side Family Summit, speaking out against methamphetamines, fundraising to attend the yearly all-island peer mediators conference on Oahu, participating in the Kauai peace events and much more. They mediate Kapaa students for free.

They brought their “Kapaa High Peer Mediation Ohana” brochure. Under the heading “What Conflicts should be Mediated?” they state, “Mediation can be appropriate in almost any case where the parties are willing to participate in a peace-making process; ‘listen’ to each others thoughts and feelings; let go of blame; and look to the future by negotiating solutions that work for everyone.”

They can help with conflicts concerning:

• Rumors

• Bullying/name-calling

• Peer relationships

• Peer pressure

• Disagreements/arguments

• Money/property

Comments from mediation participants include: “Peer mediators have helped me a lot with my problem with my closest friend. Thank you mediators.”

“Mediation allowed me to hear the other side of the story.”

“The program teaches you how to communicate better and solve your problems without getting physical.”

“Having our peers help us is easier than having adults because your peers understand you better because they are closer to our age.”

Their website is www.kapaahighschool.net/pm

For adults wanting to use mediation, contact Jessie Basquez at Kauai Economic Opportunity at 245-4077, Ext.#229 or #237. There is a fee.

This Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration of Peace. Many peacemakers on the island are offering activities, performances, information, crafts and even a calming technique! It runs 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with a peace parade around 1.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Hale `Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in our Kaua’i community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org

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