How to harness conflict’s strengths

Conflict is a natural and positive element of human relationships - but corrupted against a backdrop of needless violence, a new guide to peace in Zimbabwe argues.

Africa Community Publishing and Development Trust’s latest booklet Soft Strength – Peace-building for Development seeks to equip individuals to agitate and develop resolutions through thought-provoking pictures, posters and proverbs.

Respectful communication, based on honesty and empathy, are the basis for constructive relationships, a key concept required for mature and democratic resolution of social problems, Soft Strength contributors contend.

Defined as balanced, inclusive relationships based on equality and with fairness, trust, understanding and democratic, constructive relationships harness the transformative qualities of conflict to ensure positive resolution.

“If the people involved in the conflict are mature they can discuss their differences, search for what they have in common, and find out how to improve a situation in a way that is mutually satisfactory,” the guidebook says.

“If conflicts with deep-rooted causes are not resolved, they become violent… the destructive attitudes, behaviour and context which harm people directly by hurting them (physically or mentally) or by denying their basic rights.

“Conflict transformation is a more integrated process of transforming the negative energy of violence into the positive energy for building a democratic society.”

Rejecting notions of dominance and subordination, the egalitarian platform can foster open debate; the booklet outlines the importance of educating community members of all ages to respond peacefully and constructively.

“It is a long term process, involving all sectors of the population, across the economic, social and public spheres, at local, national, regional and international levels,” the booklet says.

“Development is the change of relationships between people. Through development we can challenge relationships based on domination and inequality.” – In a four-part series, based on the key recommendations of APCD’s expert contributors, The Zimbabwean will share its roadmap toward democratically tackling the country’s prevailing challenges. In the next article; healing and reconciliation.

Post published in: Politics

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