Commitment: Facing Inequality All Together
In these times, when it seems that the mediation is going to be implemented (although given that the support actually received by the institutions was weak we should say “permitted”) in the commercial field in Spain, an intriguing debate was started on the possibilities of reaching an ADR that encourages good personal relations and invite people to come closer in the commercial sector, a sector that is governed by the “money makes the world go round” principle.
We might wonder then, is there room for humanity in the commercial world or everything is a matter of money and, therefore, the only space for mediation is the assisted negotiation? Should really important contributions to the mediation as those of the transformative mediation (Antes, Folger & Della Noce, 2008; Bush & Pope, 2008; Folger, 2008; Bush & Folger, 1996), the narrative and circular-narrative mediation (Cobb, 2013; Suares, 1996; Winslade & Monk, 2000) and the appreciative dialogues (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987) be neglected to exclusively consider the traditional view of the assisted mediation and interest-based mediation of the Harvard School? Even the latter advocates for the importance of human relations, it focuses on obtaining the highest benefits from the other’s emotions (Fisher & Shapiro, 2005; Fisher, Ury & Patton, 1991/2011; Ury, 1997); however, it proposes an important shift in the social paradigm when talking about the need to take people away from confrontational relations to lead them into collaborative relations. If this is the case, however, should we ignore what other Schools stand for regarding the concept of social constructionism and the possibilities mediation offers to change relations, and, why not, societies?
In her book “New Ways in Psychoanalysis”, Karen Horney (1939/1960), who seriously challenged Freud and his followers’ traditional psychoanalysis, proposed as early as in 1939 some ideas that, considered from today’s perspective, still have great repercussions. Those who don’t know this marvellous personality of psychology, have to learn that Karen Horney was a psychoanalyst of the so-called Interpersonal School together with authors like Harry Stack Sullivan and the man who was her partner for a while, Erich Fromm. Her book, “The neurotic personality of our time” was practically a bestseller in its time, and her contributions to a new view to psychoanalysis and to feminine psychology are impressive, even if her free, independent and non-conformist attitude had an influenced on the rejection she experienced from her colleagues; for this reason, she has not been as recognised as other authors, including the two mentioned above.
Back to her book, “New Ways Psychoanalysis”, and more specifically to the Chapter named “Culture and Neurosis” Karen Horney (1939/1960) proposes, in opposition to Freud’s more biology-based approach, that culture has a high impact on what we call neurosis; therefore, some societies, due to their principles and values, practices and absences, create people with a “a basic feeling of helplessness towards a world conceived as potentially dangerous”. Let’s see some of these values she detected in our western society as neurotic stimulator (if I might say so) or anguish generators, focusing on those that generate potential hostility, insecurity and lack of confidence.
Among the hostility stimulators she underlines:
- “The economic principle of competition”, fosters individual competitions and is “the cause for an individual to fight against another one as this stimulates in one person the wish to outdo another person and make the advantage of one individual be the disadvantage of the other one”, a competition that not only dominates professional relations but also the personal ones, which contains “the seeds of destructive rivalry”.
- “The existence of outrageous inequalities, not only in terms of wealth but also in terms of the education, leisure, preservation and recovery of health possibilities”.
- “The possibility for a group to exploit another one”.
Among those creating insecurity are:
- “Current insecurity in the economic and social fields”.
- “Fear caused […] by potential hostility” that we perceive in the others based on whether we are successful or not, and she includes: “fear of envy in the event of success, despise in the event of failure, fear of being deceived and fear of retaliation due to ignoring the other, despising them or exploiting them”.
- “Emotional isolation […] and the resulting lack of solidarity”.
- “Tradition and religion are not enough and not strong enough to currently give individuals the impression of being part of a powerful union that provides refuge and leads their efforts”.
Lastly, among those that generate lack of self-confidence she pinpoints those that society encourages through:
- “An ideology of success relying on personal efficiency”, orthat “the individual attributes any failure whatsoever to his own deficiencies, failure either in his social, professional or love life”.
- “The contradiction between the hostile tensions that actually exist – remember, these are fostered by the competition and individualism values of our society – and the gospel of brotherly love”.
She proposes, therefore a society we can all recognise in today’s world: a society that propels us to individualism, to a quest for personal benefits ignoring the other, a society that abandons the weakened (but not weak) and makes us see the other as those who come to take away “what is ours”.
In this context, the mediation gives us the opportunity of looking beyond these trends in our society. The mediation is neither a tool nor a process or ADR. It entails a philosophy of personal relations based on the concept proposed by the Norwegian thinker Johan Galtung (Alternative Nobel Peace Prize, 1987; Gandhi Award, 1993) of “Positive Peace” (Galtung, 2013), understood as the peace that aims at the common good, the “win-win” peace. This peace is achieved when we try people to really attend to and satisfy their needs and the others’ needs together with the other. This is a peace that, according to Galtung again, addresses not only direct violence but also the underlying violence in the institutions and in the minds of people through culture (structural violence and cultural violence, using the author’s terminology), that provokes social gaps where some are placed above the other and tries to maintain these differences and inequalities with the power of “what has been established”. Part of the philosophy of mediation is, thanks to the contributions of the Transformative School, that attention is focused not as much on agreements, even if it is, as on the relations between the people and the need of recognising each other and grow together as persons. Mediation is governed by the equity principle, which implies for mediators that he/she has to attend to the power imbalances and to protect the weakened when the powerful tries to impose him/herself. Mediation aims at us becoming brothers –a wonderful cry of “brotherhood” is heard, perhaps even more beautiful or at least as beautiful as the “freedom” and “equality” cry, although it has been often put aside compared to the others -, understanding that brotherhood means becoming brothers with the different and, as brothers, we cannot let them behind and forget them when they are in despair and simply continue our journey. We cannot fully ignore the other. We are a whole, as our body is a whole. And if I disregard my heart to attend only to my guts I forget that my heart suffers, and as it is part of me, I suffer as a whole.
When facing a crisis the “every man for himself” principle is inevitable, but it is not ethical for a society. And it is not peaceful. It might seem peaceful but, as Galtung asserts, it is just a “Negative Peace”, it is an apparent peace with underlying conflicts. We would be allowing structural and cultural violence to take root, and with it the hate to the forgotten. We can take a stand in this individualism and justify ourselves by saying that there is nothing we can do; but in doing so, we are inviting the disadvantaged to take a stand as well in their wish of retaliation. Thus, tension between the two social groups is created: the saved ones, who will wish to maintain what they achieved thanks to an “individualistic approach to the crisis”, and the “fallen”. They will look at each other with mistrust and resentment, which creates, sooner or later, direct violence. Anything, any small event, even an irrelevant thing, can make this situation blow up, as hate and mistrust, aloofness, rivalry, inequality increasingly gain ground.
At the end of the day, all serious inequalities carry conflicts within. And all mediators know that this eventually explodes in the process. No agreement – and we are talking here about the social agreement – can be maintained in time based on an unfair painful inequality. We might deceive ourselves and say there is “Social Peace” because there are no evident conflicts. But this is self-deception. The environment heats up and the monster of destruction gets ready because inequality cannot be maintained. Competition and individualism do not lead to healthy agreements: clinging to power I can get a bigger chunk of the cake but this will maintain conflict. Moreover, it increases conflict and generates weakness among the other, and self-absorption – no bigger than mine as I bathe in individualism, in this loss of brotherhood and of looking and caring for the other and their needs – and wish of retaliation.
This is where we are at and there is where mediation as a philosophy of the human relations has a word to say. We are agents of change, we trust in the people and their ability to see the other, empathise with them, understand their suffering and help them to get out of their situation. We advocate for the “all together” compared to the “face to face” approach. And thus, we become the guardians of solidarity among brothers. Do not forget this.
This new issue of Revista de Mediación is special because of new incorporations. More efforts join to reinforce the editorial work already done by Instituto Motivacional Estratégico (IMOTIVA) and Asociación Madrileña de Mediadores (AMM): The Professional Association of Psychologists of Madrid and the Carlos III University of Madrid, two prestigious institutions that have set an example for us in promoting scientific knowledge and challenging social thinking. Relying on them to face new challenges at Revista de Mediación and to develop further its possibilities is an honour for us. These incorporations would have not been possible without the support of the dean of the Professional Association of Psychologists of Madrid, Mr Fernando Chacón Fuertes, and the effort of the Head of Communications and Publication of this Association, our dear friend Javier Martínez; as for the second institutions mentioned, without the generous collaboration and commitment of Dr Soleto herself and her team.
Likewise, it is an honour to be able to count in our team on new people with an impeccable track record and highly developed abilities. This is the case of the newly incorporated Deputy Editor of our Journal, the irreplaceable Ana Isabel García Colmenarejo. It is also a pleasure to count now on María Orfanou and Marina Fernández-Caballero for our Editorial Board. And it is real honour to rely on the knowledge and strength of our new Scientific Editor Dr Helena Soleto (Carlos III University), whose support to the mediation is well known by everybody in the sector. It is worth mentioning here that the book she coordinated, “Mediación y resolución de conflictos: técnicas y ámbitos” (Mediation and conflict resolution: techniques and scopes), she wrote actually some the chapters, published by Tecnos Publishing House, won the Best 2012 Publication Prize awarded by Revista de Mediación and AMM.
At the Editorial Board, headed by our always discreet good friend Dr Pilar Munuera (Complutense University of Madrid), there are also new incorporations: Dr Ramón Alzate (University of the Basque Country), who has always been for us the “dearest godfather” of Revista de Mediación; Dr Trinidad Bernal (Manager of the prestigious Apside Conflict Resolution Centre) as she has been considered by many as the mother and driving engine, and one of the most important figures of the mediation in Madrid and in Spain; the almost doctor Susana Méndez Gago (Camilo José Cela University, Madrid), a well-known professional with an impressive track record and a person of a high human quality, and Dr Antonio Manuel Lozano Martín (University of Granada), whose doctorate thesis was precisely on mediation in the schools.
Thanks to this support, Revista de Mediación sets out to achieve recognition not only at national but also at an international level: the journal is listed by REBIUN (Network of University Journals) or the Dialnet scientific dissemination in Spanish (University of La Rioja), or it has been recently indexed by Latindex (Regional Information Online System for Scientific Journals in Latin American, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal); we have been also informed that our Journal will be soon included at the Bibliographic Database of (ISOC). We hope that the visibility and impact of the Journal will progressively increase and our goal is to be listed by other repositories and databases of high scientific prestige.
This issue I am hereby presenting would have never come true without the support and efforts of Beatriz Rodríguez de la Flor de Marcos to coordinate it. We have worked together for one year – Beatriz reminded me recently – to make it possible. Without her this issue would have never been created. I want express my gratitude to Beatriz. The new Act on the Mediation in Civil and Commercial Matters, and the Royal Decree that develops it further, as mentioned above, required from us to look at what it meant and we wanted this issue to clarify, as some questions arose as a result of the Act. To do this, Dr Emiliano Carretero has conducted a thorough analysis in the opening article of this issue. The new practices of mediation are addressed by: Beatriz Rodríguez de la Flor, who analyses the much needed industrial mediation; Nuria Susana Lasheras Mayoral, who discuss the mediation in family companies, developing what she calls “going beyond the family protocol”; and doctor Lorenzo Prats Albentosa, who studies the much questioned insolvency mediation, as he puts it.
More novelties, it is a pleasure to have on board again one author that has already appeared on issue 4 of Revista de Mediación with two other judges (Martín Nájera and Pérez Salazar, 2008), Judge José Luis Utrera, accompanied by Mediator and Psychologist María Ángeles Peña Yáñez; they explain about their long experience at the In-court Family Mediation Service at the Malaga Family Court, which is a reality only known by us when Judges commit to us as much as this author did.
Moreover, we are also crossing borders and expanding our publication among our sister nations in Latin America; thanks to the considerable translation efforts of our expert Marcelo Rodríguez Rivollier, we open up to English speaking readers we extended summaries are incorporated from this issue on which will have a large greater impact on our foreign readers. We also open to new authors, experiences, knowledge and reflections from beyond our borders, and for this issue we have the reflexive article entitled “Shifting the Focus from Mediating the Problem to Mediating the Moment – Using Intuition as a Guide”, of Australian mediators Greg Rooney and Margaret Ross, which is published in Spanish for the first time, and is the opening article a the new section “Openness”. Openness means not only a look outside but also a change in attitudes these authors require from us and from our readers. “Openness” is the space to go beyond what has already been said and done. Following up on this line of openness we want to present the article by Santiago Madrid on the contributions of Motivational Interviewing (Miller & Rollnick, 1991; 2013) to mediation, a reading that in our opinion can provide readers with theoretical foundations and practical elements proven to be very useful for the mediators’ practice.