Typically we assume that people who are in conflict want solutions. And they do, of course. Parents of belligerent children want the belligerence to end. Those who work for tyrannical managers want an end to the tyranny. Citizens of weakened nations want to be treated with respect. And so on. People want solutions. But notice that the preferred solution in each case is that others change. Should we be surprised, then, when conflicts linger and problems remain?
What if in our conflicts with others there is something we want more than solutions? What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause? And what if, individually and collectively, we systematically misunderstand that cause and unwittingly perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve? These are among the important questions explored in The Anatomy of Peace.
Through an intriguing story of parents struggling with their children and with problems that have come to consume their lives, we learn from once-bitter enemies the way to find peace whenever war is upon us. Yusuf al-Falah, an Arab, and Avi Rozen, a Jew, each lost his father at the hands of the other’s ethnic cousins. The Anatomy of Peace is the story of how they came together, how they help warring parents and children to come together, and how we too can find our way out of the struggles that weigh us down.
“But home, workplace, and world conflicts are entirely different issues,” you might say. “Few families and companies in the world do internal battle with artillery and tanks.”
True enough. But not all weapons are aimed at the flesh. Look around. Home and workplace casualties are everywhere. Bitterness, envy, indifference, resentment—these are hallmarks of the hot and cold wars that fester in the hearts of family members, neighbors, colleagues, and former friends the world over. If we can’t find the way to peace in these relationships, what hope have we for finding it between nations at war?
For those who have not read our prior book, Leadership and Self-Deception, The Anatomy of Peace stands on its own as a thought-provoking exploration of a body of ideas that points the way to peace in all of our interactions. Those who have read Leadership and Self-Deception know about the issue of self-deception (the problem of not knowing one has a problem) and how it affects all other problems. They will not be surprised, therefore, to encounter some of the same ideas in The Anatomy of Peace and to learn how those issues play a pivotal role in conflict situations at home, at work, and between countries throughout the world. They will also recognize one of the key characters from Leadership and Self-Deception, Lou Herbert, as The Anatomy of Peace takes the reader back in time to when Lou first learned the ideas that ultimately transformed his family life and his company.
While Leadership and Self-Deception focused on the workplace, The Anatomy of Peace explores the freeing and surprising implications of these ideas in all aspects of life. In addition, while Leadership and Self-Deception explored how to solve self-deception in oneself, The Anatomy of Peace goes beyond, exploring how to spread that solution among others. Although some of the stories in this book were inspired by actual events, no character or organization described in this book represents any specific person or organization. In many respects, these characters are each of us. They share our strengths and our weaknesses, our aspiration and our despair. They are seeking solutions to problems that weigh us down. They are us, and we are them. So their lessons offer us hope. Hope? Yes. Because our problems, as theirs, are not what they seem. This is at once our challenge and our opportunity. (Loc.252)
23 • Lessons
“Lessons?” Lou asked.
“Yes,” Yusuf answered.
“The pyramid illuminates three main lessons—axioms that guide its application in all situations. We’ve already mentioned the first.” At this, he wrote the following.
Most time and effort should be spent at the lower levels of the pyramid.
“Remember: we want to spend most of our time in the levels of the pyramid below correction, which is exactly the opposite of what we normally do. We want to spend most of our time actively helping things go right rather than dealing with things that are going wrong. We want to get out of the box, build relationships, listen and learn, teach and communicate. Where circumstances are such that we choose to engage in correction of some kind—whether by putting a little child on time-out or by sending war planes into the skies above a country that has attacked us—the lower levels of the pyramid become even more important. Correction is by nature provocational. So where we choose to correct, we need to increase our efforts at the lower levels of the pyramid all the more. If we believe military force is necessary, for example, then we would be wise to increase our communicating, learning, and relationship-building efforts even more.
“When we actively live these lower levels of the pyramid, we normally discover that we need to spend less time on correction than we have in the past. We also discover that when we need to impose correction, it is more likely to have an impact than it did in the past because our correction will grow out of an ongoing effort and context. It will no longer seem capricious or arbitrary but will feel connected to our deeper efforts to help things go right. Whether at home, at work, or among nations in the world, lesson number one of the Peacemaking Pyramid is that most time and effort should be spent at the lower levels of the pyramid.
“Now for lesson two,” he continued.
The solution to a problem at one level of the pyramid is always below that level of the pyramid. “
This lesson also runs counter to our normal reflex. When our correction isn’t working, we normally bear down harder and correct more. And when our teaching is going poorly, we often try to rescue it by talking more and insisting more. That is, we drone on in an attempt to correct the problems we have created by droning on!”
Lou thought of all his “teaching” sessions with Cory.
“If I am correcting and correcting but problems remain,” Yusuf continued, “that is a clue that the solution to the problem I am facing will not be found in further correction. Likewise with teaching. And if I learn and learn, even going so far as to revise my opinions, but problems persist, perhaps what I need to do is go out and engage with others personally. Maybe I need to increase my efforts to build relationships both with those I am dealing with and with others who deal with them.
“Mei Li shared with us one of the key ways we build relationships here at Camp Moriah: in all that we do with others, we try to ‘take off our shoes’ with them. We join them in the limitations they face and hold ourselves to the same requirements. For example, the lunchtime assignment we gave you yesterday—to see everyone during that time as a person—was an assignment Avi and I took upon ourselves as well. And we pondered the conflicts and boxes in our own lives last night, just as we asked you to do. And just as you have had impressions during our time together of things you need to do for someone, we too have had the same impressions and will leave today with the same commitment that you will have: to do what we’re feeling we should do to help things go right.
“If I find I have trouble building relationships despite my efforts to do so, this second lesson suggests that a solution, if there is to be one, will not be found simply by spending more time with others. I might have a problem at the lowest level of the pyramid—in my way of being.
“Which brings us,” Yusuf said, “to the pyramid’s lowest level, and to its third lesson.”
Ultimately, my effectiveness at each level of the pyramid depends on the deepest level of the pyramid—my way of being.
“I can put all the effort I want into trying to build my relationships,” Yusuf said, “but if I’m in the box while I’m doing it, it won’t help much. If I’m in the box while I’m trying to learn, I’ll only end up hearing what I want to hear. And if I’m in the box while I’m trying to teach, I’ll invite resistance in all who listen.”
Yusuf looked around at the group. “My effectiveness in everything above the lowest level of the pyramid depends on the lowest level. My question for you is why?”
Everyone looked at the pyramid.
“You might try looking at the way-of-being diagram from yesterday,” Yusuf said.
“I get it,” Lou said after a moment.
“What?” Yusuf asked.
“What are you seeing?”
“Well, the way-of-being diagram tells us that almost any outward behavior can be done in either of two ways—with a heart that’s at war or a heart that’s at peace.”
“Yes,” Yusuf agreed. “And what does that have to do with the Peacemaking Pyramid?”
“Everything above the lowest level of the pyramid is a behavior,” Lou answered.
“Exactly,” Yusuf said.
“So anything I do to build relationships, to learn, to teach, or to correct can be done either in the box or out. And as we learned yesterday from the collusion diagram, when I act from within the box, I invite resistance. Although there are two ways to invade Jerusalem, only one of those ways invites cooperation. The other sows the seeds of its own failure. So while the pyramid tells us where to look and what kinds of things to do in order to invite change in others, this last lesson reminds us that it cannot be faked. The pyramid keeps helping me to remember that I might be the problem and giving me hints of how I might begin to become part of a solution. A culture of change can never be created by behavioral strategy alone. Peace—whether at home, work, or between peoples—is invited only when an intelligent outward strategy is married to a peaceful inward one.
“This is why we have spent most of our time together working to improve ourselves at this deepest level. If we don’t get our hearts right, our strategies won’t much matter. Once we get our hearts right, however, outward strategies matter a lot. The virtue of the pyramid is that it reminds us of the essential foundation—change in ourselves—while also revealing a behavioral strategy for inviting change in others. It reminds us to get out of the box ourselves at the same time that it tells us how to invite others to get out as well.”
As Lou listened, he saw how the pyramid could help him at Zagrum. First of all, he needed Kate back. He hadn’t known where to begin, but now he knew that he needed to talk with her—teach her about what he had discovered about himself and tell her about the changes he was committed to making. And he knew as well that he had to ask her to help him see where he was still blind. He needed to learn from her, and he was finally willing to. As for the relationship, he wasn’t sure he could repair it, given how he’d acted. But he suddenly knew where he had to begin. He had removed a ladder she was using as a prop for her team because he thought it was a stupid idea. His taking the ladder was symbolic of much that was wrong about his style with people, just as Kate had said. As silly as it sounded, he knew he needed to take her a ladder. He resolved that he would take it to her home in Litchfield, Connecticut, as soon as he and Carol returned home.
Which brought him to Carol. He knew that he tended toward better-than and I-deserve boxes and that others often faded away into the scenery as a result. He was afraid of that happening again, especially toward Carol. It occurred to him that the pyramid could help with this. If he could keep reminding himself to work the lower levels of the pyramid, he would remember to stay in the middle of learning from Carol—to wonder about her day, for example, and her feelings. It would also help him to remember to keep working to build their relationship—to spend time together doing what she enjoys, for example. And at the bottom level of the pyramid, he knew it would help if he could find ways to keep remembering how Carol was the one who had held their family together, often despite him. If he could keep remembering that, it would be much harder to start thinking that he was somehow superior or more important.
Lou looked at the pyramid again. He finally had some hope. But he was still worried. “I’m worried that I’m going to blow it,” he confided aloud.
“Of course you will!” Yusuf laughed. “Of course you’re going to blow it. We all will. You’re a person, after all, not an automaton. If the possibility of failure paralyzes you, you might wonder what box is demanding that you be perfect.”
“You’re saying I have a need to be perfect?”
“It might be worth considering. Must-be-seen-as boxes can wield paralyzing impact.”
“What’s so funny?” Yusuf asked.
“I keep telling myself I don’t really have any must-be-seen-as issues, but they keep popping up.”
“Most of us justify ourselves in all of the basic ways to one degree or another,” Yusuf said. “At least I know I do.”
At that, Yusuf looked around at everyone—at Lou, Carol, Elizabeth, Gwyn, Pettis, Miguel, Ria, Teri, and Carl. “Regretfully, at least for me,” he added with a smile, “our time together is about finished. I appreciate the time and effort you have devoted to this. You have been pondering your lives in bold ways. I hope you will be both troubled and inspired as a result; troubled because you know that the box is always just a choice away but hopeful for the very same reason because freedom from the box is also just a choice away—a choice that is available to us in every moment.
“May I mention one more thing to you before we go our separate ways today?” he asked.
“Please,” everyone answered.
“I want to share with you why we chose to name our program Camp Moriah.”
24 • Peace on Mount Moriah
“As we mentioned earlier,” Yusuf began, “Mount Moriah is the hill in Jerusalem that is graced by the Muslim shrine known as the Dome of the Rock. This real estate is no doubt the most religiously revered in the world. It is valued by Muslims as one of their holiest sites, remembered by Jews and Christians alike as the site of the Holy Temple in ancient times, and looked to by some as the site at which another temple will one day be built. The eyes and hearts of the world are focused on Mount Moriah. “Because of this, that revered piece of land is an outward symbol both of our conflicts and our possibilities. One side may say it is their holy place, set apart for millennia. Others may believe it was bequeathed them by God. There seems to be little opportunity for peace in such views. Looked at in another way, however, this passionate belief provides the portal to peace, for only one who cherishes and reveres something can understand what it means to others who regard it the same way.
“From within the box, passions, beliefs, and personal needs seem to divide us. When we get out of the box, however, we learn that this has been a lie. Our passions, beliefs, and needs do not divide but unite: it is by virtue of our own passions, beliefs, and needs that we can see and understand others’. If we have beliefs we cherish, then we know how important others’ beliefs must be to them. And if we have needs, then our own experience equips us to notice the needs of others. To scale Mount Moriah is to ascend a mountain of hope. At least it is if one climbs in a way that lifts his soul to an out-of-the-box summit—a place from where he sees not only buildings and homes but people as well.
“And so, a land stands divided. And within that land, a meaning-filled hill stands as a symbol both of the divide and of the hope for overcoming it.
“Our homes and workplaces are divided as well. Within each rise our own Mount Moriahs—outward issues that come to symbolize all of the inner turmoil we are feeling. In one home it might be the dishes, in another the finances, and in yet another the disciplining of the children. At work, we may come to focus on the title or the status or the level of respect we think we deserve. We begin to do battle around these issues, and the more we battle, the larger they loom on the landscape until finally our home and workplace quakes build mountains so high they create their own weather systems. If you don’t believe me, just witness what happens to the climate in a room when parties start doing battle around one of their Mount Moriahs.
“The issue, of course, is not the mountain, whether that mountain is the dishes or the lawn or the title; or whether, for that matter, the mountain is Mount Moriah itself. No, the issue lies beneath the mountain in the realities in our hearts that make these mountains our battlegrounds.
“Lasting solutions to our outward conflicts are possible only to the extent that we find real solutions to our inner ones. An uneasy détente may be possible in Israel by focusing only on the surface of things—on economics, for example, or on security. But lasting peace will not be. The same can be said for our homes and workplaces.”
“But détente is preferable to bloodshed,” Gwyn said.
“It certainly is,” Yusuf agreed. “But let’s not fool ourselves. Cool détente, while preferable today, is still a war waiting for tomorrow. Lasting solutions to the battles in our workplaces, homes, and battlefields will come only as we end the war in our souls. We end that war first by finding and extending our out-of-the-box places. And we help others out of their inner wars by being for them an out-of-the-box place ourselves—the way Ben was for me, the way Hamish was for Avi, the way Mei Li and Mike were for Jenny, and the way all of you have become for one another. We have begun living the pyramid together, which is why our feelings today are so much more peaceful than they were yesterday morning.”
The group looked around at each other.
“My friends,” Yusuf said, “Avi and I and the team here promise that we will strive to be that kind of place for your children. We will take off our shoes toward them, hoping to create a space that invites them to ponder their lives anew and make changes they would do well to make. We invite you to do the same, whatever that might mean for you.”
Lou looked to the day, sixty days in the future, when he would once again see his boy—shoeless, he hoped, if he could maintain what he had learned until then. In the meantime, he had some letters to write.
“But what if my boy still does drugs?” Miguel asked. “What if this program doesn’t fix him?”
“Then he will be lucky to have a father like you, Miguel, who will strive to love him all the same.”
“But I don’t want him on drugs!”
“No. Of course you don’t. Which is why you won’t stop trying to help him, no matter how long it takes. Even if he doesn’t like it.
“Don’t misunderstand,” Yusuf added. “Despite our best efforts, we may find that some battles are unavoidable. Some around us will inevitably choose war. May we in those cases remember Saladin and remember that while certain outward battles may need to be fought, they can nevertheless be fought with hearts that are at peace.
“And,” he said as he looked appreciatively around the room, “may we remember the deeper lesson as well: that your, and my, and the world’s hoped-for outward peace depends most fully not on the peace we seek or the wars we wage without but on the peace we establish within.
“Which should bring you hope,” he added. “It means that however bleak things look on the outside, the peace that starts it all, the peace within, is merely a choice away. A choice that changes everything. You already know this, as you are already beginning to feel differently about your children.
“If we can find our way to peace toward children who have stolen from us, spouses who have mistreated us, and even drunks who have taken our fathers from us,” he said, glancing at Gwyn, “what mountains are too high for human hearts to scale?
“Your spouse, your children, your colleagues, your enemies—may you choose to see them all as people, and may you therefore discover solutions you’ve never known and summits you can enjoy together.” (Pg.224)
“The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict” by The Arbinger Institute.
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