The Challenge of Forward Thinking in Mediation
It is Springtime and thankfully due to record rainfalls, Southern California's hillsides are abloom with flowers. We have just celebrated the Jewish holiday of Passover, when we gather together to recite the ancient story of the Jewish people leaving the chains of slavery in Egypt towards liberation and the promised land. We celebrate the new beginnings of Spring, with fresh greens and roasted eggs, yet we Jews always add a taste of bitterness, lest we forget that we were once slaves in the land of Egypt. In mediation, I sometimes find that the hardest challenge is helping the "victim" to cease focusing on their past and begin to envision their future differently. It is true that litigation focuses upon a past act--and then carefully ascribes all of the "damages" proximately caused by that act. It is as though that single moment caused not only damages to that day--but carefully calculated damages into the future.
Mediation is different. In mediation, the focus is upon ending the suffering on the very day of the mediation hearing and replacing that with the promise of a future that does not include that particular conflict, does not include a lifetime of suffering and does not lay blame for past acts in any public way. Both sides agree that something occurred in the past and that the best way to achieve a better future is to end the dispute about it. Like my beautiful little granddaughter in this photo, the hope is that in choosing to resolve the conflict, the parties can focus on all that the Springtime has to offer and get to the other side of the hill they have been climbing.