Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Anatomy of Peace

  • "What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause?"
  • "What if we systematically misunderstand that cause?"
  • "And what if, as a result, we systematically perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve?  Every day."
These are some of the questions that the Arbinger Institute's book The Anatomy of Peace answers with remarkable and persuasive clarity.  It is a book that challenges widely held assumptions about the nature of conflict, but it also invites the reader, and indeed the entire world, toward real, sustainable peace. This might sound like an impossibly quixotic task, but The Anatomy of Peace accomplishes its purpose if it is able to reach even one human heart.

The story begins with a group of parents who, in desperation, have dragged their children to Camp Moriah, a reformative camp in the Arizona desert directed by an unlikely pair of friends: Yusuf al-Falah, an Arab immigrant from Jerusalem, and Avi Rosen, a younger, once embittered Israeli man. The other main characters in the book are the parents of troubled youth who, with the help of Yusuf and Avi, begin to discover that there is much more to establishing peace in their homes and places of employment than they previously had supposed.  In other words, the parents, guided gently along by Yusuf and Avi, begin to discover that the real solution to their problems is located within their own hearts.

The basic message of The Anatomy of Peace is simple, but profound: there is no way to resolve conflicts, whether at home, at work, or even on a larger scale between nations and peoples, unless there is first a resolution of conflicts within the human heart.  A heart at war cannot promote peace because a heart at war causes its possessor to see other people as objects rather than as human beings with hopes, dreams, desires and goals.  Only with a heart of peace can individuals begin to see people as people, and thus begin to spend more time helping things go right instead of dealing with things that are going wrong.

The premise is simple, but in one way or another, and at one time or another, no one is exempt from having a heart at war.  How do we recognize a heart at war?  How do we turn from a heart of war to a heart of peace?  How do we share that peace with others?  These are all questions that The Anatomy of Peace can help us answer.  The Anatomy of Peace demonstrates that peace has more to do with our way of being than simply with our way of acting.  It shows how even the most bitter enemies and fiercest opponents can become friends.  

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is dealing with conflict in their lives, whether personally, at home, or elsewhere.  It may just hold the key to resolving difficulties that have long troubled or perplexed you.  Enjoy.     




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