Making peace between my students - Would this work between nations?

Today I had to make peace between two of my 5th grade girls. One is Russian and one is a local Emirati. They have a history of conflicts and insults between them. Both are very stubborn and somewhat pugnacious. This time one insulted the other, they pushed each other, and one of them got pushed to the floor. This happened at the end of class transition (from one classroom to the next) so I didn't see exactly what happened.

I told them they could resolve this with me or with the supervisor. They decided I would be the better choice. I let each one tell their side of the story. I told them, "You are both wrong." I said, "A____, you are very stubborn" and "M_________, you are also very stubborn." I made each say to the other, "I am sorry for what I did." without admitting anything. They both rolled their eyes but they said it. I then made them shake hands. I realize this is not the end of their problem, but it is a start. (Now I wish I had also made them accept each other's apology before shaking hands).

Later in the day I wondered if a similar method could work with nations using a neutral moderator. The moderator would listen to both sides tell their story, give a bit of a reality check to each side, and encourage both sides to apologize to the other for wrongs committed. They could take their own time to formally accept the apology (during general ceasefire) and then come to the table to negotiate terms of peace. Sounds good on paper, but the problem is each side is always so sure it is in the right and is guiltless. Whenever there is bloodshed on both sides, neither side is guiltless. There is also the problem of pride and not wanting to appear weak in front of their people. But making peace is not a job for weak souls. It takes a lot of courage to show humility and come to a common ground.

May a common ground be found for all people in conflict. Ameen (Amen).

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Comment by Nancy Louise on January 21, 2009 at 12:34pm
The United Nations was supposed (and in a way still is) the neutral voice among Nations. Problem is, it just still too weak, but to make it stronger brings fear of 'One World' and lost of each countries internal control.

In my class I am taking on The Church (Catholic) as it is called. I read a book called "Faith That Dares to Speak" by Donald Cozzens, there is a quote. "Hatred is incapable of being wrong." That hit me in a very profound way. Not by saying hatred is right, but by pointing out that those who stand on the point of hate and point fingers, can not, will not ever be willing to stop and hear other voices than their own shrilled scream. They are, literally incapable of being wrong because it would destroy their own world view and their core belief they must be right at all cost. This is what stands in the way of Peace repeatedly. This is why empathy for others must be taught from a young age. The ability to see where those other voice come from.
Nancy Louise
Comment by Susan McKenna on January 19, 2009 at 8:36pm
My dream for a career in violence prevention would be to teach children how to see the other person’s perspective. Children spend more time at school with other students than they do with their own families. We expect them to get along without teaching them that every human has struggles of their own. It would be great to be able to teach them that power is gained in helping others not in dominating them.
Comment by Sabriyah Fatimah on January 14, 2009 at 5:22pm
A follow up - My two students seem to be respecting each other a bit more. One of them picked up the other's pencil for her and handed it to her nicely. The other actually said "thank you." I was kind of shocked really, but in a good way.
Comment by Stephanie on January 12, 2009 at 10:52pm
sounds pretty good for a start
perhaps "if she were your sister, what would you say to her.....would you accept her better?"
my daughter just came up with a similar thing today....but she is older
have to get them while they are young!! it is sort of fashionable to be like this, with the young of today (and yesterday and probably tomorrow) but they have to FEEL for the other person. I agree

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