Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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In the climactic scene in the new movie Philomena (the title character played by Judi Dench), the two protagonists confront some of the Irish nuns who forced Philomena and other teenage girls to give up children born out of wedlock. The journalist Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan, has only harsh words for these nuns, angrily condemning them for their lies and brutality. Philomena, on the other hand, who suffered most directly from the sisters’ having wrenched her child from her, turns to one of the nuns responsible for her treatment, and says “I forgive you.” Both, it seems to me, are valid and understandable reactions. The journalist will channel his anger into writing a devastating exposé of the church’s harsh […]

I heard an amazing interview on the The World radio program today, with a young American Army commander, Captain Michael Kolton,  who decided to reach out and forge a relationship with one of the Taliban commanders that his unit was fighting in Afghanistan. (transcript here) Captain Kolton made a deal with his Taliban counterpart, a man known as Massoud. Kolton told Massoud that as long as he called every week, the Americans would not hunt him down. Massoud made sure to call every week, and the two men continued to meet and get to know each other. Pretty soon, Massoud was giving Kolton the best intelligence he had ever received, and both found they had more to talk about than […]

In The Eumenides, the final play of Aeschylus’s trilogy (see my two prior posts on the first two plays), Orestes has flown to Apollo’s temple, pursued by the hideous, disgusting Furies.  While they are sleeping, Apollo appears and tells Orestes to go to Athens and beg Athena for help (again from the Ted Hughes translation): There you shall be judged By men that I have appointed. And there, inspiring the tongue, I will free you. I commanded you to murder your mother. Now I shall draw, as in a lottery, From all your tossed-up days and nights, Deliverance from the crime. Orestes follows Apollo’s directions, and gets the chance to present his case to Athena, who immediately recognizes its complexity. This […]