Posted by Wes Bradford on Mar 20, 2018

After a brief introduction by Rotarian Steve Goldsmith (Hawthorne Club), Mediators Without Borders Lead Facilitator Scott Martin began the presentation. He is a former landscape architect who is now working to mediate conflict (this is related to the biannual District Peace Conference).

Tonight’s discussion was primarily about Human Trafficking, a cause promoted by District Governor Cozette Vergari. He reviewed how to have a peace conversation or dialogue. He compared dialogue to debate; debate is oppositional, with a goal to win, listening only to find flaws and refute arguments of the other side, reaffirming each side’s own point of view, and rarely resulting in apology or introspection. Dialogue is collaborative, working to develop a common understanding and working towards better solutions, enlarging and transforming both sides’ point of view, and encouraging apology and ongoing communication.

The ground rules include respectful speech, approaching the problem rather than attacking the person, agreeing on conversation rules regarding how long to speak and how to be interrupted, and using first-person accounting. We don’t need to agree in order to listen. We need to listen for what we don’t know, not just confirmation of what we already believe. Separate the person from the problem, and bring service to the solution rather than listening and waiting to give advice.

After this review, the meeting broke up into a separate group at each table, each with a facilitator and a notetaker. Human Trafficking was discussed, specifically about the problem of prostitution. Poverty and social stress often create potential victims who are often in their teens. They are tricked into working for someone and then find it difficult to get out as they are exploited, while the customers are typically unappreciative of the social implications, enabling the abuse.

At the end, a report was provided from each table on the points discussed, followed by a conclusion and increased awareness of the problems and what Rotarians can do to help provide solutions.