A global peace mediator offers some alternatives to the idea that violence is inevitable. According to William Ury, an anthropologist who has studied war and peace in different cultures and has helped broker peace in different hot spots—from Chechnya to the Balkans. Co-author of Getting to Yes, he has recently written The Third Side a book exploring the importance of neutral intervention when two parties are at odds. In this episode of Humankind, Ury discusses the ways to prevent conflicts from flaring into violence, through strengthening the third side (the surrounding community) and through helping opposing sides become more empathetic to each other.
- Are human beings innately prone to violence–or not?
- How can we contain conflict so that it doesn’t lead to violence?
- How can we be the “third side” in a conflict?
- What are the places in a conflict where people get stuck?
- How does empathy for the other side help resolve conflict?
We tend to think the problem is human beings have this natural tendency to kill, and yet in the middle of a hot war, WWII, a “good war,” as it were, the US army was astonished to learn that at least three out of every four riflemen who were trained to kill and commanded to kill, could not bring themselves to pull the trigger when they could see the person they were ordered to kill. And that inner resistance to violence is a well-kept secret.”
—William Ury, anthropologist and peace negotiator