The TRANSCEND Peace Development Environment Network started with geopolitical macro and mega conflicts; many well known and dramatic. But conflicts in daily life, at school, in couples-family, at work may be even more dramatic; at the micro level within the persons involved, between them, in the context, and at the meso level of social groups. Macro and mega, between states and regions, nations and civilizations, may also matter, like micro personal and meso social conflicts matter for macro and mega conflicts within and between negotiators-mediators.
Any act of violence, like bullying at school, quarrels in the family or at work, may actually not express hostility toward the victim but be directed toward the “system”. A feeling of being trapped in general may be expressed as violence at school, in a couple-family, at work.
But higher levels generally prefer a lower level focus; not on them and the level they represent, but at the bully or the quarrelsome person. Psychologists may be mobilized to handle “the difficult person;” when seen more deeply what is at stake is a highly problematic system.
For a nonviolent handling we have to have all levels in mind, and that is the essence of our Sabona project, TRANSCEND in daily life.
The word Sabona means in Zulu: “I see you”, I take you in, all of you, all levels!
Below, the reader will find a table with three columns for the three types of “daily life”, and ten levels for theory and practice. Lack of adequate analysis leads to single level reductionism and interventions at the wrong, usually meaning lower, levels.
For therapy sensitivity to intra-column multi-level conflicts is indispensable, not only focusing on perpetrator or victim and their narratives, but also on relations, contexts, structures and cultures in which they are embedded. Sensitivity to inter-column transfers of conflict energy is also needed, as frustrations in one may easily come out as aggression in the other.
|1 Micro, within||Bully||Perpetrator||Troublemaker|
|2 Micro, within||Bullee||Victim||Competitor|
|3 Micro, between||Bully-Bullee||Relation||Competition|
|4 Meso, context||Bully-Bullee||Perpetrator-Victim||Troublemaker-competitor|
|5 Meso, setting||Class-teacher||Marriage-Family||Section|
|6 Meso, super||School-rector||Kin||Company|
|7 Macro, meta-setting||School-systemministry||Marriage-Familysystem||Economicsystem|
|8 Macro, society,structure||verticalhorizontal||patriarchyparentarchyvs. parity||verticalvs.horizontal|
|9 Macro,society,culture||individualist vs.collectivist||individualist vs.collectivist||individualist vs.collectivist|
|10 Megacivilizations||Modern vs.traditional||Modern vs.traditional||Modern vs.traditional|
Difficult? Yes, but knowledge helps. Thus, sitting down with perpetrator an victim, one at the time, asking questions beyond their relations to each other, may already be half the therapy. Incidentally, it also takes some of the brunt of the verbal or physical violence: there as more to it than just the two of us. A worker-manager relation may have gone very sour; it helps to ask both what could be done with the work organization. Maybe a change from company toward cooperative may help? Thus, there are structures that are problematic regardless of the concrete persons who enact the various roles.
And vice versa: there are persons who are problematic regardless of the structure in which they are embedded. We may have to search in micro and meso contexts like the Freudian focus on the childhood. Not forgetting the Jungian focus on the role of civilizations.
*Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. He was awarded among others the 1987 Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize. Galtung has mediated in over 150 conflicts in more than 150 countries, and written more than 170 books on peace and related issues, 96 as the sole author. More than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. His book, Transcend and Transform, was translated to 25 languages. He has published more than 1700 articles and book chapters and over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at transcend.org/galtung.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS)