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In search of kindness.

When you ask people what conflict resolution means to them, often they will tell you about destructive conflicts that they are affected by, or aware of. The violence. The human pain and suffering it causes.

That’s because It’s easy to view conflict as something negative, that should be avoided or that needs fixing.

We don’t share that view. Conflict is not an isolated event that can be resolved or managed, it’s an integral part of our society, it’s how we develop and evolve. It’s an inevitable part of life. What’s not inevitable is how we deal with conflict when it arises.

Northumbria Conflict Resolution Network aims to promote alternative strategies for resolving conflict, that are more likely to find solutions where both sides have their needs met, and where the locus of control remains with those whose lives are going to be affected by the decision. These strategies maximise the likelihood of the conflict being a positive and productive force for change. They also pay greater attention to the importance human relationships, and open the possibility of the conflict becoming a catalyst for relationship building.

Conflict resolution and transformation

 

Northumbria Conflict Resolution Network aims to promote the use of strategies where dialogue is used as the primary method of achieving resolution (where parties come to an agreement about the issue) and transformation (where there is both agreement about the issue and a positive change in future relationships between the parties).

When we encounter conflict, it is easy to see the solution to the problem in terms of what we don’t want. We don’t think that is as effective (or as easy to do) as asking for what we do want. What would a positive future look like?

 

Kindness and Compassion

 

We believe that a society where conflict is dealt with positively (rather than being ignored or brushed under the carpet, or where we rely on rules and punishments to get the change we want), is a society that has compassion and kindness at it’s core. Conflict resolution offers an alternative to the win/lose we are used to in this society, but to get there we need to have concern for the needs of all parties involved in the situation. Without kindness, we lose our ability to be curious, or hopeful of a better tomorrow that involves everyone in society. We can’t solve every problem with kindness alone, but it plays a vital role in any conflict resolution approach to achieving a future we all want.

And that’s why, when we were thinking about ways in which we could gather new content for our website, we decided to go looking for the good.

 

We know that in our region, there are hundreds of acts of kindness for others that happen every day. We also know that these acts often happen “beneath the radar”, for some reason we don’t share them as much as we could. We decided that this needed to change.

So, in partnership with the Geography department at Newcastle University, we agreed to take four students on placement, and set off to find stories of hope and inspiration. Stories of;

  • People working together, not for their own benefit, but to help others in need.
  • People working to build understanding between people, offer friendship and resolve conflict.
  • People who show us the power of kindness.
  • People who bring us hope.

What we found was humbling and inspiring in equal measure.