“Our Media & Politicians Prevent Us From Lasting Change” with Heidi & Guy Burgess
“We Must Change Our Broken System” with Heidi & Guy Burgess
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- Discover how a man in Uzbekistan inspired the Burgesses to make their content accessible to all.
- Heidi explains the similarities between climate change and conflict.
- Guy talks about the issue with watching our favorite news channel.
- Understand why it’s imperative we bring people together from different disciplines. (Maybe that’s you!)
- Heidi calls for people in the field to get involved in teaching people how to deal with polarization.
- Guy explains why we need to solve problems the same way doctors do.
- Uncover why our political system just doesn’t work.
- Duncan explains why issues aren’t as simple as yes or no or this or that.
Heidi & Guy Burgess
About this episode’s guests
Guy and Heidi Burgess are a husband-and-wife team of Ph.D. social scientists. They have been studying, teaching, and practicing conflict resolution for 40+ years. They co-direct the Conflict Information Consortium and its underlying project, Beyond Intractability, an online resource library about peacebuilding, strengthening democracy, and conflict resolution. Their current focus is the Constructive Conflict Initiative and The Hyper-Polarization Crisis: A Conflict Resolution Challenge
The Conflict Information Consortium (CIC) directed by Guy and Heidi Burgess, was founded in 1988 at the University of Colorado. It was–and still is–a multi-disciplinary center for research and teaching about conflict and its transformation.
By now it has over 1000 articles, written by over 500 authors, along with over 100 interviews of leading scholars and practitioners who are focused on addressing intractable conflict.
Massive Open Online Seminars (MOOSs)
The full Conflict Fundamentals Massive Open Online Seminar consists of a series of shorter seminars, organized into several different topic areas. It covers the full range of fundamental information needed to understand the fundamentals of the conflict field.
Constructive Conflict Initiative
We believe that the destructive-conflict-as-usual way in which the U.S.* and so many other societies now commonly address complex, large-scale, intractable conflict represents the single greatest threat to humanity and the planet.
At this point, we believe that it is incumbent upon those with a background in the many peace and conflict-related fields to start the process of promoting a large-scale effort to address the many difficult challenges posed by destructive conflict. In order to try to initiate such a process, we have drafted what we are calling a Constructive Conflict Initiative (Full Statement)
Here are the Core Challenges that need to be addressed by this initiative.
- Scale – how to “scale up” the conflict and peacebuilding field’s processes to the society-wide level
- Psychological Complexity – A wide range of cognitive biases often lead people to embrace behaviors that are counterproductive.
- Social Complexity – Group beliefs about both facts and values arise from the cumulative effects of countless interactions between largely independent individuals.
- “Divide-and-conquer” Authoritarians and Plutocrats – Democratic institutions and political actors trying to advance their authoritarian and plutocratic goals using divide-and-conquer tactics.
- The “Destructive-Conflict-As-Usual” Industrial Complex – There is a political dynamic in which various companies base their business models around intensifying political divisions and then selling coverage of those divisions.
- Absence of a Shared Democratic Vision – We need a shared vision for a 21st-century democracy that most everyone would like to live in and, therefore, be willing to work for. Such a vision needs at least three major components:
- A Commonality That Enables Diversity
- A Positive-Sum, Not a Zero-Sum, Economy
- A Collective Long-Term Defense of the Commons –
- Reconciliation — There may, therefore, be a need for reconciliation efforts that foster a common history that acknowledges the truth of what happened.
- Fact-Finding – How do we cultivate societal fact-finding processes that more closely conform to the characteristics of the “real” world — and are believed by most citizens?
- Escalation and Polarization – Escalation and polarization dynamics now commonly divide whole societies into competing, “us versus them” factions that dehumanize one another, and the only goal becomes the utter defeat of the enemy.
- Miscommunication, Deception, and Misunderstanding – It is now common for competing social groups to have wildly inaccurate and usually unjustifiable negative images of one another.
- Collaboration – The task of actually reaching mutually-beneficial agreements is increasingly challenging because of the complexities of today’s issues, the large number of competing interests, wide cultural differences, deep-seated distrust, and a general reluctance to make the required compromises.
- Ineffective Institutions for Adjudication and Legislation – For win-lose decisions cases, the success of democratic institutions depends upon the availability of widely-trusted mechanisms for wisely and equitably making hard choices about who wins and who loses.
- Collective Action – Many issues including, especially, the management of the Commons, require conflict-handling institutions that go beyond relatively routine disputes between parties and look at issues in a society-wide way.
Here are some excellent articles from Beyond Intractability:
You are invited to participate in and contribute to an online discussion of how those with conflict resolution and peacebuilding expertise can do more to defend liberal democracies while also helping them live up to their ideals.
Begin with this Framing Article.
A central part of this discussion begins with a critique of The Neutrality Trap, a book by Bernard Mayer and Jackie Font-Guzman. Here are some initial articles in Burgess-Mayer Dialogue:
- Introducing a Discussion with Bernie Mayer and Jackie Font-Guzmán about Hyper-Polarization, Neutrality, and Oppression — Is America’s core problem hyper-polarization or oppression? Which is the cause and which is the effect? What does this imply about how we address both? — Aug. 23
- The False Flag of Hyper-Polarization A Response to Guy and Heidi Burgess’ Critique of The Neutrality Trap — An approach that says we should focus on peace and not justice is not only bound to fail, it is dangerous in these times when our democracy is under attack and authoritarianism is on the rise.
- Not a False Flag, a More Effective Strategy for Fighting Oppression: the Burgesses Respond to Jackie Font-Guzmán and Bernie Mayer — The conversation between Jackie, Bernie, and the Burgesses is a good example of the blind man and the elephant parable. We all need to look at the whole elephant.
Other Articles in the Series
- Larry Susskind: “Consensus Building in the Age of Trump”
- Colin Rule — Positive Reframing in Political Conversations: Avoiding the Race to the Bottom
- Ken Cloke: Hyper-Polarization –
- Summary of “The Case for Principled Impartiality in a Hyper-Partisan World” —
- Ken Cloke: Neutrality, Omni-Partiality, and the Evolution of Political Conflict
Here are some podcast episodes related to the conversation in today’s episode:
- “Building Resilience and Relationship through Dialogue” with Raye Rawls (Omni-Win Project Podcast)
- “Reclaiming Our Power with Nonviolence” with Miki Kashtan (Omni-Win Project Podcast)
Videos & Essays
An Essay on Upgrading Democracy
Books, Resources and Information
Topics Discussed in Episode
About The Omni-Win Project
The Omni-Win Project is a multimedia effort to raise awareness of the myriad existing and emergent opportunities to improve our democracy and heal our political culture.
Our mission: facilitating the healing and evolution of our democratic systems and political culture, so that we can co-create a future that works for everyone.
Meet The Host
I am omnipartial: I am biased in favor of the success of everyone and the whole. I believe it is possible to improve systems of communication and interaction in ways that will allow humanity to thrive and evolve through our complexity and diversity.
My purpose in life is to support an omnipartial revolution. How? By helping the world understand the fractal nature of conflict and how we can transform conflict into a positive and inspiring experience. We are all in this together. I firmly believe we can do this complex dance through life with much more grace and beauty.
I am specifically committed to transforming how we work together in teams and organizations and how we experience conflict and collaboration in our democracy.
Fans of the Omni-Win project podcast will enjoy this collection of episodes: https://www.fractalfriends.us/transforming-politics about Transforming Politics and Healing Democracy