Welcome to the June issue of The School Mediator.
The feature story this month explores the deeper
lessons our student mediators are learning.
This is the last issue of our first year of publication, and
it has been a great pleasure. The next issue you receive
will be in September.
Enjoy your Summer,
Founder and Director
School Mediation Associates
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|The Benefits of Playing God
I sometimes hear the expression "stop playing God" used
to criticize a person who arrogantly makes decisions for
others or orders them around. It uses an image of God
as boss, and not a very nice boss at that.
I am no theologian, and in sharing my thoughts below, I
certainly want to respect the diverse spiritual lives of the
readers of this newsletter.
But my own sense of divinity is quite different. To my
mind, if there is God energy in this "cruel, crazy,
beautiful world," two of its essential characteristics are
1. It has no ability to control human decision-making. People are empowered to choose how to respond to the circumstances they face. God mostly watches.
2. It is a force of unqualified compassion for all people, regardless of race, religion, color, and the relative benevolence of their actions and beliefs.
Empowerment and compassion.
Sounds a lot like mediation, doesn't it?
Don't we mediators sit with those who are in conflict,
listen as compassionately as we can, help them
understand themselves and their adversaries (whether
they choose to agree with them or not), and in the end,
stand back and let them make their own decisions?
I am not implying that mediators are God-like, at least no
more so than anyone else. Like the parties we serve, we
are flawed, and when not mediating, are occupied with
But in our capacity as mediators, we are called on to
embody compassion and empowerment: to care, to
refrain from judging, and to help others chart their own
course. According to my newly appropriated
to "play God."
How wonderful that we now encourage young people to
do this. Here, we say to our student mediators, go into
this room, use your skills to demonstrate that you
understand and care about these peers in conflict, and
then help them decide how they want to proceed.
I for one think that we have yet to appreciate the
impact this work has upon those peer mediators who are
lucky enough to mediate regularly. My guess is that it
goes well beyond the benefits usually associated with
peer mediation: learning important life skills, making a
valuable contribution to one's school, and feeling the
satisfaction of doing so.
Consider this: For millennia, educators have
encouraged young people to practice athletics and
musical instruments, not so that they could be great
high jumpers or violinists, but so that they could
the deeper characteristics we associate with these
activities: discipline, teamwork, sensitivity,
selflessness, determination, attunement to beauty, etc.
Now, through programs like peer mediation, we enable
students to practice listening non-judgmentally,
practice demonstrating compassion, seeing the
picture, and empowering others.
Mediating can be educational for anyone. But for young
people, who are in such formative stages of life, it
the potential to be life altering. Experienced
mediators can't help but carry deeper lessons into their
lives outside the mediation room.
Remember: In the blink of an eye, these young people
will be our
leaders instead of our students.
Clearly, sometimes it is a good thing to "play God."
Send us your thoughts...
|For almost twenty years, School Mediation Associates
has been devoted to the application and promotion of
mediation in schools. SMA's mission is to transform
schools into safer, more caring, and more effective
institutions. Our books and training programs have been utilized by tens
of thousands of people around the world.
Call us: 617-926-0994
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MA 02472 USA
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