My relationship with a very important colleague recently hit the rocks. Her description -- "it was rupturing." Its been both my personal and professional experience that no matter how much I develop myself -- as a coach, mediator, colleague, friend, I still hit challenging growth points with the people in my life. In this moment, I luckily had Andrea Bartoli's inspiration front and center in my mind as I reached out to her -- "seek what unites, not what divides. No matter how difficult a situation may seem, believe that peace is possible."
So my guest this episode is Dr. Andrea Bartoli, someone who takes important professional risks to get good work done. Dr. Bartoli is currently Dean at Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and International Relations and an incredibly brave, intelligent and collaborative soul. He has been part of peacemaking initiatives in Mozambique, Guatemala, Algeria, Kosovo, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma/Myanmar, East Timor, Colombia, and has been an advocate of innovative processes to build common ground in the university systems in which he has spent most of his professional career.
In this podcast, he tells the story of his contribution in Mozambique to bring about the end of a 16-year civil war. This work, he says, was the most important and formative of his long career in the field of peacemaking. Instrumental to the success of the endeavor was a strong belief that, in spite of the huge challenges, peace was possible. As Dr. Bartoli says:
“Peace is always possible. This must be repeated over and over in situations where you do not see the possibility of peace. . .If peace was possible in Mozambique, then it is possible in Syria, Afghanistan, it is possible everywhere.”
The story of Mozambique started simply – giving assistance to just one friend. That friend, in turn was connected to expanding systems of people, ultimately to an entire country and then, by way of example, to the world. Dr. Bartoli reflects how “each of us has a daily decision to make regarding how we use ourselves to evolve systems to a more harmonious and constructive place.” And, he says:
“I think that the human spirit is much stronger than war, much stronger than violence. I think that violence and war are mistakes, collective mistakes, of not applying yourself to the discipline of seeking what unites and not what divides.”
Toward the end of the interview, Dr Bartoli reflects on the interrelationship between peacemaking among international actors and the similar processes that are required in the contexts of large complex systems such as universities. He also shares with listeners his thoughts on what is making him most hopeful.
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Cheers for now,
p.s. My colleague and I have moved beyond our precipice and are now in a much better place.