The challenge of peacebuilding, John Paul Lederach states, is “as much the work of creativity and ‘moral imagination’ as of dialogue and commitment.”  

This post on NPR’s Speaking of Faith blog describes the international work of Lederach - Mennonite, mediator, and professor of international peacebuilding - in the field of “conflict transformation.”

Being an advocate for peace education as well as the descendent of a long line of Mennonite forebears, I was quite taken with this article.  To read more visit speakingoffaith.  Also, listen to their show “The Art of Peace” (audio above).

From “Conflict Resolution” to “Conflict Transformation”
Krista Tippett, host

John Paul Lederach is one of the most esteemed names in conflict mediation in the world today. He is also Mennonite, an icon of this tradition that passionately embraces the biblical command to “be peacemakers.” John Paul Lederach insists on calling his work “conflict transformation” rather than the more commonly used term, “conflict resolution.” Across three decades, in over 25 countries on five continents, he has sought to help people transform their relationships with their enemies.

You can solve a problem without resolving a conflict, he points out. And you can resolve a conflict without setting real change in motion, without creating justice that will make the renewal of conflict less likely in the future. This, he says, is the true challenge of peacebuilding, one that always takes generations to accomplish. It is as much the work of creativity and “moral imagination” as of dialogue and commitment.

Much in John Paul Lederach’s vocabulary and toolkit is counter-cultural, from an American perspective, with our ignorance of history and fondness for quick fixes. These days, he tries only to take on projects where the participants are committed to ten-year efforts rather than those lasting one to two years. This, he says, makes the difference between a community that’s learning to be crisis-responsive rather than crisis-driven — where ingrained adversarial patterns of interaction become impossible to fall back on. That, of course, in an individual or collective life, is the mark of true change, and we all know from life that it takes time