Column: “Make Some Appropriate Contribution”

April 5, 2016

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

How do we humans deal with our deepest differences? While conflicts basically have two sides, I’ve found that resolving differences and transforming the most challenging situations comes from the involvement of the 3rd side – the surrounding community. Those colleagues, family, neighbours –the rest of society – can play a constructive role in fostering resolution and even reconciliation.

This paraphrase is from William Ury, the Harvard specialist in conflict resolution, who has worked for more than 30 years helping to resolve challenging circumstances in South Africa, Yugoslavia, the Middle East and other parts of the world. Our latest conflict in Bermuda, demonstrated the importance of the role of the 3rd Side. There were several people in the wider community offering help to foster a resolution to the impasse.

Many offering to help were unaware of the efforts of others. I met with Walton Brown MP and Kim Wilson MP on Tuesday, March 8th regarding the impasse. We agreed that I would contact Minister Fahy and offer mediation. Unknown to us, on that same morning, Chris Furbert, Rev. Nicholas Tweed and Jason Hayward had begun a series of meetings with the Minister.

Since I didn’t hear anything back from Minister Fahy, I reached out to Premier Dunkley regarding the offer of mediation; unaware that direct talks were proceeding. The lack of success of those talks led to ‘Crisis’ Friday, March 11th, on Parliament Hill.

Aware that a variety of persons across our community appreciate the role of the 3rd side, I reached out, pulling together an ad hoc team prepared to provide options for the facilitation of the impasse. This team included people like Ken Dill – retired-Head of the Civil Service; Pam Barit Nolan – facilitator; Gordon Johnson- facilitator; Dame Jennifer Smith – former-Premier and John Barritt – former-MP. The idea was to initially mediate a framework Agreement and then have facilitators work with a longer-term process.

While recruiting more team members we found out that a group of business leaders had volunteered to mediate the parties’ differences, over the weekend of March 12th. While this additional 3rd side involvement was not directly successful, it would have had some impact, a point that William Ury is making.

On Monday, March 14th I spoke with Sir John Swan inviting him to join a small team of us to address the impasse. He agreed that a 3rd Side intervention was vital, but expressed the opinion that a single individual would be more effective at that particular stage. That said, I let Sir John know that a Group of Four had volunteered their availability, if his facilitation was not completely successful. That Group included: Dame Jennifer Smith, Dame Pam Gordon; Dr. the Hon. David Saul and the Hon. W. Alex Scott; former Premiers.

Of course the rest is history and the Group of Four was not needed for this impasse.

That said, William Ury implies that every attempt in a community, with a 3rd side intention, is vital. This includes the hundreds of people across the community expressing best wishes in their thoughts and prayers; as well as those who actively counseled friends and colleagues, helping them address challenging emotions, surfaced by the circumstances. This would have assisted people involved in gaining perspective, fostering a climate in which resolution was possible.

Out of that Agreement, the stakeholders are forming a Working Group, in order to take a deep-dive on the matter of Immigration Reform. The success of this phase will also be impacted by direct or indirect input from the 3rd Side.

Going forward, all of us are called to make some appropriate contribution – given the circumstances – for the best outcome for our Island’s shared future.

- Glenn Fubler

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Comments (2)

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  1. Vote for Me says:

    Thank you Mr. Fubler for taking the time to pen the opinion.

    My only comment is ‘I am not sure of the value of including persons who you spoke to as part of the 3rd side’.

    In addition and as indicated in your opinion, there were many more indirect interventions that helped to give the more direct participants a more relative perspective.

    • Earth watch police says:

      We were at the meeting and said no no no.