By David Oddie
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Extra resources for A Journey of Art and Conflict: Weaving Indra’s Net
Diane Francis, highlighting the priority to embrace the needs of all parties in a conflict setting, writes: Thus it becomes possible for the conflict to be viewed inclusively and seen as a shared problem rather than in terms of opposition. Such shifts in perception are seen as possible if one assumes not only the existence of universal human needs but a human capacity for empathy for making the imaginative leap from what is needed for our own well being to an understanding of others’ needs. (Francis, 2002:69) In thinking through the underlying purposes of ARROW I came across the writing of a prominent mediator and writer in the United States, John Paul Lederach, whose work became a major source of inspiration for making connections between the respective work and ideas of conflict practitioners and arts educators.
If you stand and look to the front, you can see the series of past events leading to this moment. The future is behind you. You cannot see it; you can only imagine it as you begin to move backwards towards it. To illustrate the past that lies before us, Lederach devised a ‘set of embedded circles that flow towards the past as a way of exploring a more holistic understanding of the settings of cycles of violent conflict’ (Lederach, 2005:141). The first circle includes recent events that may cover a time frame of weeks or months.
The arts provide a language and means to explore these long-term tensions, whereas the priority of resolution is to search for immediate solutions to presenting problems (Lederach, 2003). Lederach’s book, The Moral Imagination (2005), is a key source of inspiration for the ARROW/Indra programme. He describes the moral imagination as the generation of transformative ideas and initiatives from within conflict settings: initiatives that symbolise ways in which cycles of violence may eventually be transcended.