from The Worldview Literacy Book   copyright 2009            back to worldview theme(s) #47


#47A:  Attitudinal fixes can solve problems or resolve conflicts which involve attitudes.  Attitude formation can be traced to various inputs: thoughts, beliefs, emotions, feelings and prevailing disposition toward acting on these inputs.  Generally, people's attitudes change for various reasons, including:             1) as a result of learning, 2) in response to reasoned persuasion directed at them, 3) in response to an emotional appeal directed at them, and 4) to relieve tension by reducing or eliminating a perceived inconsistency or cognitive dissonance. 

     Problems involving a human societal dimension, attitudes, value judgments and technology may be solved by either attitudinal or technological fixes (theme #46A)—or a combination of both approaches.  Those with "The Attitudinal Fix Mentality" like to see people talking, cooperating, and peacefully resolving conflicts to the mutual satisfaction of all.  (See Figure #47a.)

     Those who are provisional, possess a sense of fair play, good interpersonal communication skills, and emotional intelligence are well equipped to facilitate, mediate, arbitrate, and resolve conflict.  Recognizing that both resolving conflict and artistic creation often involve coming to terms with certain emotions, many educators teach conflict resolution in conjunction with arts (Figure #47b).  Given that suffering often precedes both deeply felt art (theme #12) and conflict, such courses may attempt to promote healing.  

     Many disputes involve situations characterized by tension, antagonism, and sides whose motives, purposes, and intentions seem at odds.  The most difficult of these are termed intractable conflicts—where there are complex issues, deep-seated, often unacknowledged differences in worldviews, communication difficulties, and fear.  The people on opposing sides often feel threatened by their opponents—indeed they may feel that their sense of identity, cherished beliefs and way of life are being attacked.  Such conflicts may also involve material goods, resources, and real or potential impacts on people and their environment—impacts that are threatening.     

     After initiating or improving dialogue, mediators can help the disputants find bridge values—shared values representing common ground a settlement can be built on, or bridging the gulf of misunderstanding.  Similarly, disputes with a legal basis can sometimes be settled using mediation rather than pursuing costly lawsuits in court.  Where two nations are involved, diplomacy can avert that ultimate technological fix: war. After those on opposing sides talk, the technological fix finally applied may be less heavy-handed than otherwise.  Perhaps it is built around an appropriate technology solution, or shared responsibility for technology-based monitoring of compliance.

     Ideally, seemingly intractable conflicts can be ended with settlements that promise to last for three reasons.  First, they have mechanisms for a return to peaceful stability after anticipated (or unanticipated!) perturbations occur.   Second,


they involve both sides not only compromising, but also feeling  justice has been done.  (Different types of justice are identified in Figure #17a.)  A settlement perceived as just means both parties view it as reasonable, proper, lawful, right, fair, deserved, merited, etc.  Justice seems generally connected with fairnessin particular with issues of equal treatment, the degree to which exercising freedom and liberty is to be allowed, and rewards for contributing to the common good.  Third, lasting settlements are possible when both sides conceive of the common good as being held together by an unbreakable bond between them.  This is built on a sense of mutual dependence—where it is realized, as the Dalai Lama puts it, "destruction of your enemy is destruction of yourself."

#47B: In his classic A Study of War (see Discussion, theme #46B), Quincy Wright identified "attitudes concerning basic values" as one of the causes of war.  Two nations wishing to prevent war between them are advised to better understand         1) what each society holds in high regard after making value judgments and 2) how each makes sense of the issues in dispute given different cultural traditions, beliefs, and worldviews.  An update to his work might stress the importance of arms control.

     Of course, nations of conscientious objectors don't go to war.  Such pacifism can take different forms.  Absolute pacifists hold that all killing, all forms of violence, and all war are morally wrong.  Conditional pacifists, while much preferring peace, accept some of these under certain conditions.  Examples of conditional pacifism include believing in capital punishment,  accepting use of violence to defend one's self or family, defencism and pacificism—but opposing all other killing. 

     Pacifism represents one response to evil.  Criticisms of it are built around a secular aspect of the philosophically famous problem of evilnamely how should society fight human’s wicked and evil acts?  Many absolute pacifists feel that fighting them with evil (violence, vengeance, capital punishment, etc.) is both morally wrong and contradictory.  They don't believe good can come out of more evil.  Critics argue that if evil is left un-checked, unpunished, and not countered with strong action, then more evil will result.  World War II is often cited to justify their argument: if fascist aggression had not been opposed, more people would have suffered under the oppressive, authoritarian rule of the aggressors.  A similar dilemma faces victims who agonize over whether to offer forgiveness or seek vengeance (themes #17B, #17A).

     Non-violence provides an alternative to both passivity and violent action, instead advocating other means of popular struggle such as civil disobedience, boycotts, consciousness raising, etc.  It recognizes the power of those in authority depends on the consent and cooperation of those they wield power over.  In deliberately withdrawing this consent, a non- violent protest seeks to invalidate the oppressive authority.

Figure #47a

Lessons from Game Theory

Resolving disputes to mutual satisfaction means making it a non zero sum game in which both sides win.  Researchers have shown that a Tit for Tat strategy is a good one to use in such games.  They assert its importance in the evolution of co-operation.  Similarly, author Robert Wright says "perception of non-zero sumness underlies religious tolerance."






Figure #47b



foster teamwork

expand perception-



promote self expression

help build a peaceful


promote self


encourage expression

of emotions



human needs

involve risk taking develop respect of self and others develop


Conflict Resolution Education & Arts

adapted from National Endowment for the Arts booklet

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