Speaker: William Ury
Rating 4 / 5
William discusses the importance of a ‘third side’ in a conflict – the outsiders affected by it. Their role is to keep perspective for the parties, and find the common ground. He especially talks of helping parties take a step back – go for a walk, “go to the balcony” and think together.
In the context of middle east conflict, he talks of finding a common story between the combatants. In this case he suggests Abraham – a common biblical figure known for hospitality between strangers. He mapped a walk along important points in Abraham’s life and the hotspots of the conflict, walking the route together and allowing enemies to experience the kindness of locals together.
This is a good story with an interesting perspective on negotiation attached. Some is obvious but well phrased “when angry you will make the greatest speech you’ll ever regret”. The idea of calmness “going for a walk” or “going to the balcony” and letting people get alone time away from the conflict was strong in his talk.
His idea of the walk through Abraham’s life didn’t resonate with me, but I can see it working for the middle east. I can certainly see help in people walking through hotspots together and getting to know the locals. This could start to soften the violence associated with religious intolerance, and at least get different people talking together.