Learning New Skills: The Art of Storytelling in Conflict Resolution

How do we change stories in which we are perpetual victims? This was one of the questions posed by Tanenbaum Peacemaker Yehezkel Landau in a workshop he led today about storytelling in conflict resolution. 

Stories play a variety of roles in conflict and can also help define and explain the personal work of individual peacemakers. One example: are the victim scripts of Jews and Palestinian obstacles to peace, keeping these two groups in perpetual conflict? Stories of suffering and massacres that are passed down and kept alive in collective memory can allow groups in conflicts to justify violence. Their “victim scripts” permit them to rationalize violence, viewing it as a result of “the story of what is occurring to them” rather than a form of aggression.
 
Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers explored these themes today at their ongoing Working Retreat at Drew University. They also broke into groups to complete a participatory exercise in which they practiced the art of positive storytelling by sharing their own story of the moment they came to discover their personal vocations as religious peacemakers.
 

*A special thanks to photographer Steve Latimer.