How Mediation Can Restore Civic Discourse


Last night I had the privilege of attending an event where Justice Anthony Kennedy spoke. He talked about our country’s “crisis in civic discourse” on the night that the 9th Circuit had voted to uphold a temporary stay of President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration and Trump, in response had tweeted out to the Attorney’s General who had brought the suit, “We’ll see you in Court”. Justice Kennedy underscored that if we are to preserve our heritage of freedom and democracy, we need to engage in discourse about what that means. He urged that if we are to inspire peoples of other nations that democracy works and freedom is worth the effort it takes to achieve it, we need to engage in discourse with those who share different opinions and even values than our own. Justice Kennedy also noted that the revolution of cyber-space creates some artificial “relationships” that threaten to bypass our conventional networks. Instead of face to face conversation, genuine interaction, reliance upon real time reporters who conduct interviews and investigations, rather than sensational “Facebook posts”, we see that nearly all of the human interaction can be bypassed by simply taking to the internet. It is a frightening revolution of its own, which, Justice Kennedy opined requires our vigilance to maintain human interaction: civil discourse if we are to preserve our freedoms.
Finally, he said: “Where there is danger, there also lurks opportunity.”

I see that mediation, in it’s voluntarily “coming together” of those in conflict, has the opportunity to be a beacon of civic discourse. I hope that you, my readers agree.

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About the Author

Jan Schau

Jan Frankel Schau is an Attorney Mediator in Los Angeles, California. She is an exclusive Neutral with ADR Services, Inc. specializing in employment, business and tort matters.

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