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Cultural Resistance to Mediation

Cultural Resistance to Mediation

Was there a lot of resistance to mediation in India?



Full Transcript

Well, let me put it this way. I was extraordinarily taken aback by the resistance to this work. Apart from, and we continue to experience that, there are a key people in the larger Indian Society or South Asian society that need this work. They need this work more than anybody else. They need a better process to resolve some crippling conflicts in their context. They need facilitators who can bring together feuding groups. They need to learn how to talk better when there are differences. And yet, we get slammed, over and over again because the overwhelming response to the work we do is cynicism. ‘Nothing will work. If at all anything will work, we know it already. Who are you to come in and do this?’ And even if by some chance they are willing to give us a chance, ‘What, you want to get paid too?’


In other words, ‘Not only must we give you an opportunity to actually do this work when we’re not entirely certain that you can make much of a difference, and two, you want us to pay you top dollar? You must be crazy.’ So this hasn’t changed in eight years, and I really need to make it very clear to your viewers that when I look back at a micro level, or someone looks at what we’ve done, and they look at the fact that, ‘Okay, you know what, in eight years Meta-Culture has developed all of these products that we have actually managed to get a track record. What’s missing in that are two or three really critical things. The first is an extraordinary amount of resistance to doing this work. The lack of a market and therefore the financial investment we have had to make, and the debts we had to get into in order to sustain ourselves.’ So that doesn’t show in the website and in most interviews that people have with me or my colleagues. That’s the ugly side of the whole thing. So I just want to put it out there. The second thing that doesn’t show is we were always very clear at Meta-Culture that we would focus not only on doing work, we will also focus on training young people to do this work in India. So we spent thousands and thousands of man days trying to attract the right kind of person to this field in India training them, trying to get a certain level of competence and quality and that’s been backbreaking.

About the mediator

Ashok Panikkar Profile Pic

Ashok is fond of saying that, while he is no Mother Theresa or Gautama Buddha, he is utterly fascinated by the intricacies and nuances of conflict resolution and peacemaking. A facilitator for 25 years, he has been called many names, including “agent provocateur.” The many hats he wears include mediator, facilitator, educator, and office clown. When asked why he does this work, he says: ‘Conflicts are early warning signals that things ar... View Mediator