Tapping Spirituality to Help Resolve Global Water Conflicts

A superb thoughtful interview of  Aaron Wolf a professor of geography at Oregon State University. He is also a trained mediator in conflict resolution — two professions he has melded together when working on the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as numerous disputes in central and southeast Asia and Africa.

Knowledge@Wharton: What is your approach to conflict resolution?

Wolf: Every situation is unique; there is no blue print. But there are two worlds that I draw from. The first is the rational school of thought to conflict resolution, which deals with what people’s interests are, how to ask questions and craft dialogue around core issues. The other is related to the worlds of transcendence or spiritual transformation. My experience is that there are often moments of transformation in a room and rational models are very bad at thinking about how and why this happens. So in recent years, I have been working with people from different spiritual traditions to learn how they deal with concepts such as anger, conflict and transformation, because they have been thinking about it for a lot longer than the West has.

Knowledge@Wharton: How did you come to realize that spiritual transformation was an essential tool of mediation?

Wolf: In the same way that I realized that science only got you so far with water resource management and you had to understand human systems, I felt that understanding human systems from a rational perspective was very limiting. And I think most mediators feel that way: When it comes to dealing with real values or core issues, most people refer to the energy in the room, the transformation or being present.

Knowledge@Wharton: Did you have a transformative moment yourself?

Wolf: In our training, we show a map of a watershed with the political boundaries. Then we take the boundaries off the map. For a lot of people, it’s the first time they see their world in a different light. You can feel a jolt in the room when they see their watershed in a way they never have before. The idea came from someone who worked for a major development bank. He had a deep spiritual side and he said that the maps worked like an analog for spiritual transformation. That was my “Aha!” moment.

Read the whole thing for more details. He explains how water needs are based on Maslow’s hierarchy and we need to understand water conflicts on a case bu case basis. He also says does not expect wars based on water in future. People are far more adjusting then we think.

Superb stuff.

One Response to “Tapping Spirituality to Help Resolve Global Water Conflicts”

  1. Tweets that mention Tapping Spirituality to Help Resolve Global Water Conflicts « Mostly Economics -- Topsy.com Says:

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