The Spirit of Dialogue
6 x 9
63 figures, 27 boxes, 7 tables
6 x 9
63 figures, 27 boxes, 7 tables
We tend to approach conflict from the perspective of competing interests. A farmer’s interest lies in preserving water for crops, while an environmentalist’s interest is in using that same water for instream habitats. It’s hard to see how these interests intersect. But what if there was a different way to understand each party’s needs?
Aaron T. Wolf has spent his career mediating such conflicts, both in the U.S. and around the world. He quickly learned that in negotiations, people are not automatons, programed to defend their positions, but are driven by a complicated set of dynamics—from how comfortable (or uncomfortable) the meeting room is to their deepest senses of self. What approach or system of understanding could possibly untangle all these complexities? Wolf’s answer may be surprising to Westerners who are accustomed to separating religion from science, rationality from spirituality.
Wolf draws lessons from a diversity of faith traditions to transform conflict. True listening, as practiced by Buddhist monks, as opposed to the “active listening” advocated by many mediators, can be the key to calming a colleague’s anger. Alignment with an energy beyond oneself, what Christians would call grace, can change self-righteousness into community concern. Shifting the discussion from one about interests to one about common values—both farmers and environmentalists share the value of love of place—can be the starting point for real dialogue.
As a scientist, Wolf engages religion not for the purpose of dogma but for the practical process of transformation. Whether atheist or fundamentalist, Muslim or Jewish, Quaker or Hindu, any reader involved in difficult dialogue will find concrete steps towards a meeting of souls.
"Wolf is a heavyweight in the conflict resolution world...The Spirit of Dialogueencapsulates his global approach to transforming conflict developed over 25 years of practice…The text is not dense academic prose littered with formal citations; it is a conversation between Wolf and the reader. If one wonders what it is like to take a course, participate in a workshop, or be 'mediated' by Wolf, they will get a good feel for his mindful and practical approaches in this book."
"Aaron Wolf is an inspiring facilitator and mediator who applies the highest levels of emotional intelligence in his work. In The Spirit of Dialogue, he weaves his powerful tales from negotiations with spiritual perspectives on how hearts can connect across divides. A book anyone trying to help groups discover common ground will find of great benefit."
Daniel Goleman, author, Emotional Intelligence
"Rich with photographs and graphics and an easy, inviting style, The Spirit of Dialogue is a pleasure to read for anyone interested in how we are put together and how we interact. Using compelling examples from Wolf's practice as an international mediator, it brings the reader to the negotiating table to witness breakthroughs that seem inexplicable. But within the frameworks of philosophy, cosmology, and religion, we begin to see inside these mysteries of human behavior and appreciate the power within ourselves and each other to achieve the unlikely."
Lucy Moore, author, Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator
"In The Spirit of Dialogue, Aaron Wolf provides clear evidence that different faith traditions have much more in common than most people imagine, especially when it comes to explaining how body, heart, mind, and spirit must all be engaged for meaningful dialogue to lead to conflict resolution. Wolf offers a powerful argument for why and how rationality and spirituality must be fused. This is the only way to move from positions to interests to values to harmony."
Lawrence Susskind, Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning and MIT Co-founder and Vice-Chair, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
Preface and Appreciations
Chapter 1. The Boundaries of Science?
-A Tale of Two Vaticans
-How a Water Scientist Hit the Limits of His Worldview – Twice
Chapter 2. Healing the Enlightenment Rift
-The Enlightenment Rift and its Legacy
-The Transformation of Disputes
-Isn’t Religion at the Heart of Most Conflicts?
Chapter 3. Four Worlds and Four Scales
-The Four Worlds in the Suk
-Roots and Universality
-Experiencing the Four Worlds
-Four States, Four Scales
Chapter 4. Working with the Four Worlds
-Characteristics of the Four Worlds
-Putting the Structure to Work
-Applying the Framework, from the Suk to Switzerland
Chapter 5. Two Wolves and the Storm Within: Transforming Internal Conflict
-Learning to be Screamed at in Russian
-Walking the Path Within
-A Four Worlds Check-In
-The Worlds Swirling Within
-The World Without
-Back to Tbilisi
Chapter 6. Listening with the Heart: Transforming Interpersonal Conflict
-The Balcony and the Mekong Spirit
-The Four Worlds and the Other in the Mirror
-The Source of Anger – Within
-The Four Worlds and Their Expressions in Process
-Lev Shome’ah – A Listening Heart
-Transmitting from the Heart
-Walking the Path Together: Additional Tools
Chapter 7. Rama’s Sandals and Other Lessons for Small Groups
-“Bureau, Reclaim Thyself!”
-The Four Worlds and their Expression in Groups
-Wisdom Roots of Group Process
-Facilitating the Process
Chapter 8. A Leap of Faith: Complexity and Conflict
Jain Studies Program
Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
Fifth Mahavir Nirvan Lecture on Applied Jain Ethics
Dr. Wolf has spent 20 years as a facilitator and scholar studying conflicts over shared water resources around the world. These experiences have led him to see the limitations of Western secular models of conflict resolution and cooperation based on rationality and interest, summed up in the maxim, “People will agree when it’s in their interest to agree.” Instead, Wolf seeks to shift the discussion from “interests” to “common values” as the starting point for real dialogue. He draws lessons from a diversity of faith traditions to transform conflict, such as the “true listening” practiced by Buddhist monks, contrasting it with the “active listening” advocated by many mediators. Alignment with an energy beyond oneself, what Christians would call grace, can change self-righteousness into a community concern. Dr. Wolf will present these and other practical lessons learned from years of traveling, reading and discussing these issues with practitioners from a variety of the world’s faith traditions and with those who have negotiated conflicts in a breadth of settings.
Dr. Aaron Wolf is Professor of Geography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. His research focuses on issues relating transboundary water resources to political conflict and cooperation. He combines environmental science with dispute resolution theory and practice. Dr. Wolf has consulted on various aspects of international water resources and dispute resolution for the US Department of State, the US Agency for International Development, and the World Bank, as well as several foreign governments. He is currently a Professor of Water Governance at UNESCO-IHE Delft Institute for Water Education based in Deft, the Netherlands.
Author Event with Aaron Wolf
Friday November 16 | 7:00PM - 8:30PM
Grass Roots Books
227 SW 2nd St.
Corvallis, OR 97333
Aaron T. Wolf is a Professor of Geography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. He has acted as a consultant to the World Bank and several international governments and agencies on various aspects of transboundary water resources and dispute resolution. A trained mediator/facilitator, Wolf directs the Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation, through which he has offered workshops, facilitations, and mediations in basins throughout the world.
As a longtime mediator, Aaron T. Wolf has learned that negotiations are shaped by complicated dynamics—from how comfortable the meeting room is to the participants’ deepest senses of self. Bridging seemingly intractable issues means addressing multiple layers of needs. Wolf’s approach to this complex task may be surprising to westerners—less so to those from cultures that do not separate rationality from spirituality. The Spirit of Dialogue draws lessons from a diversity of faith traditions to transform conflict, from identifying the root cause of anger to the true listening practiced by Buddhist monks. Whether atheist or fundamentalist, Muslim or Jew, Quaker or Hindu, any reader involved in difficult dialogue will find concrete steps towards a meeting of souls.
The author will be reading and signing books at this event.
An accompanying PowerPoint presentation for The Spirit of Dialogue is available for educators using the book in their courses.
Click here to download the presentation for classroom use.
Debate surrounding the proposed repeal of the controversial Clean Water Rule is just one example of how competing interests tend to drive our approach to environmental conflicts. As we strive to balance environmental protections with economic development and respect for indigenous populations, strategies for finding common ground may come from an unexpected place—religion.
In The Spirit of Dialogue, trained mediator and scientist Aaron Wolf shows how ideas from faith traditions can pave the way toward successful conflict prevention, transformation, and resolution. Drawing on his experience mediating water conflicts for the World Bank and 12 years of travel and research, Wolf engages religion not for the purpose of dogma, but for the practical process of mediation.
Lucy Moore, author of Common Ground on Hostile Turf said The Spirit of Dialogue “brings the reader to the negotiating table to witness breakthroughs that seem inexplicable. But within the frameworks of philosophy, cosmology, and religion, we begin to see inside these mysteries of human behavior and appreciate the power within ourselves and each other to achieve the unlikely.”
Check out an excerpt from the book below.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
Oregon State University’s Aaron Wolf, in his studies of conflict and cooperation around international waterways, has found something both counter-intuitive and remarkable. Despite myths of “water wars,” cooperation is far more common than conflict when neighbors share a river and an aquifer, according to Wolf, author of the new Island Press book The Spirit of Dialogue.
This goes beyond simply cooperating over water. “Once cooperative water regimes are established…,” Wolf wrote in a 1999 essay, “they turn out to be tremendously resilient over time, even between otherwise hostile … states, and even as conflict is waged over other issues.”
Wolf’s point was put strikingly on display last month at a meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as representatives of the Unites States and Mexico gathered for a formal signing ceremony of an agreement over sharing the waters of the Colorado River.
The Colorado River is often described as being shared among seven states, but the number is really nine—seven in the United States and two in Mexico. U.S. farms and cities use most of the river’s water, and what little is left when it arrives at the U.S.-Mexico border near the towns of Algodones and San Luis is diverted for use by Mexican farms and cities. The last hundred miles of river channel between the border and the Sea of Cortez is usually dry.
The agreement includes provisions for the two nations to share shortages if (when?) drought and climate change shrink the river. The deal gives Mexican water users the ability to store their water in Lake Mead, the massive storage reservoir behind Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border, near the city of Las Vegas. Storage is critical to give Mexico flexibility in managing its water. U.S. water agencies will contribute under the deal to water efficiency improvements to Mexican infrastructure, with some of the saved water available for use in the United States.
Crucially, the agreement also sets aside water for habitat restoration in the dry river channel of Mexico.
The agreement was negotiated over a more than two-year period, but it is really rooted in more than a decade of increasingly deep collaboration between a community of water managers on both sides of the border. When the Trump administration took over in January, there was fear that the carefully crafted deal, so beneficial and important to communities on both sides of the border, would be sidelined by the heated rhetoric over free trade and immigration, over NAFTA and walls. But Wolf was right. Even as conflict raged over other issues, the trust and reciprocity built around the Colorado River proved remarkably resilient. The old saw that “water is for fighting over” was proven wrong again.
John Fleck is director of the University of New Mexico's Water Resources Program. For 25 years, he covered science and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal. He is author of Water is for Fighting Over...and Other Myths about Water in the West.
This holiday season, consider the Icelandic tradition of gifting books. They don't go bad, are one-size-fits-all, and are sure to make anyone on your shopping list smile.With a library of more than 1,000 books, make Island Press your one-stop shop for book buying, so you can get back to enjoying the holidays. To help you out, we've compiled a list of staff selections and mentions on various best-of lists.
Get any of these books at your favorite neighborhood bookstore or online retailer!
For the health nut in your life – Whitewash
Let me just say I am unequivocally a health nut; I am definitely that friend who will straight up say “you so should not eat, it is so unhealthy for you.” So If you have a friend or family member that is kind of like me and cares about the kind of food and chemicals they put in their body; Carey Gillam Whitewash is the book to have! This riveting number exposes just how far one company is willing to go to line their pockets while showing total disregard for public health and safety. You think you know what is being sprayed on your food, well this book is here to say think again!
Whitewash is aslo one of Civil Eats' Favorite Food and Farming Books of 2017
For the Lego lover in your life – Design for Good
What good is building something if it doesn’t help the people it’s build for? In John Cary’s Design for Good, readers are presented with colorful, character-driven stories about project around that are designed with dignity in mind. Did we mention it also contains a ton of drool-worthy photos of architecture?
For the peacekeeper in your life – The Spirit of Dialogue
Know someone who always serves as the conflict resolver for your friends or family? Give them some new ideas of masterful mediation with The Spirit of Dialogue which draws lessons from a diversity of faith traditions to transform conflict. Whether atheist or fundamentalist, Muslim or Jewish, Quaker or Hindu, any reader involved in difficult dialogue will find concrete steps towards meeting of souls.
For the history buff in your life – Toms River
Toms River recounts the sixty-year saga that plagued this small New Jersey town. Your history-loving friend will meet industrial polluters and the government regulators who enabled them, the pioneering scientists who first identified pollutants as a cause of cancer, and the brave individuals who fought for justice. Longtime journalist Dan Fagin won the Pulitzer Prize for this page-turner, and gives us all a reason to think twice about what’s lurking in the water.
For the person in your life who thinks the environmental movement is made up of white outdoorsmen (or for the person in your life who thinks that the environmental movements doesn’t include them) – Energy Democracy
Energy Democracy frames the international struggle of working people, low-income communities, and communities of color to take control of energy resources from the energy establishment and use those resources to empower their communities—literally providing energy, economically, and politically. The diverse voices in this book show that the global fight to save the planet—to conserve and restore our natural resources to be life-sustaining—must fully engage community residents and must change the larger economy to be sustainable, democratic, and just.
For the lazy environmentalist in your life – Design Professionals Guide to Zero-Net Energy Building
We all know someone who really means well and cares about the environment, but cannot be bothered to change his lifestyle. With the Design Professionals Guide to Zero-Net Energy Building, you can introduce the zero-net energy building, which offers a practical and cost-effective way to address climate change without compromising quality of life.
For the foodie in your life – No One Eats Alone
For your favorite gourmand, give the gift of No One Eats Alone, an exploration of how to deepen connections to our food sources and to our own communities. Through over 250 interviews, Michael Carolan shows concerned food citizens opportunities for creating a more equitable and sustainable foodscape
For the conservation warrior in your life – Nature’s Allies
Worried about the state of nature in our divided world? Or know someone who is? Nature’s Allies is a refreshing antidote to helplessness and inertia. Within its pages Larry Nielsen brings alive stories of brave men and women around the world who have responded to the conservation crises of their time by risking their reputations, well-being, and even lives to stand up for nature when no one else would do so. These stories provide inspiration for a new generation of conservationists to step up in the face of adversity and challenge social and environmental injustice occurring today—and to assure them that they can make a difference by speaking out. This year, give a holiday gift of courage and inspiration: Nature’s Allies.
For the traveler in your life – Let Them Eat Shrimp
This book brings to life the importance of mangroves. Mangroves have many jobs: protecting coastlines, acting as nurseries for all kinds of fish, provide livlihoods and food for people. Kennedy Warne dives into the muddy waters of the mangrove world and shares the stories of the people who depend on them. The book is both a well-written travelogue and exploration of the science of the mangroves ecological service they provide.
For the nature-in-cities lover in your life – Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design
Featured on the ASLA's The Dirt Best Books of 2017
For the bike lover in your life – Bike Boom
Island Press' Associate Director of Marketing.