The U.S. is filled with anger and nasty accusations this week.  One "side" claims the other is violent and historically racist, while the "other side" claims the first side is filled with hate driven by bigotry and is terribly misinformed about the mission and objectives of their "movement".  What makes it worse, is that those reporting the events in Charlottesville are accused of doing so in a way that is misleading and even flat out false.  These are serious accusations.  And instead of choosing to engage in any meaningful dialogue, the "many sides" of the issue have been actively ratcheting up the accusations, finger pointing and determination to prove they are right.  Unfortunately, our President has thus far failed to tamp down these fiery allegations, but instead has fueled the flames by defending his own reactions and comments instead of condemning the violence and hate.

It occurs to me that the mediation process is anathema to these current events.  For a single day, the parties agree to tamp down the rhetoric and accusations, to engage in sincere dialogue to attempt to meet the interests of each side of seriously contested conflicts in order to resolve their client's differences  where the ultimate outcome is still unpredictable.

While I have no tolerance for hate, racism or bigotry--I do see a lot of miscommunication going on which could be untangled and deconstructed if the leadership and "many sides" in our country wanted to engage in some dialogue--instead of relying upon whatever version of "news" is the most credible at the moment to their group--or most distrusted to the other.  I attempted to engage in such a dialogue--in a small way here in Southern California.  Unfortunately, the constraints of geography, traffic and some unpleasant personal attacks made it unfeasible.

Still, I commend to my readers this possibility.  I see that it works in small and large scale legal conflicts every day in my mediation practice.  Why not give peace a chance?


Jan Frankel Schau. Problem Solver. Mediator. Author. Ally. Jan Frankel Schau, Esq. settles litigated cases arising out of employment, business and tort disputes and has mediated over 1,000 litigated cases throughout Southern California. Jan has been a Panel Neutral at ADR Services in Los Angeles since 2007 and is widely considered one of L.A.’s preeminent mediators. Jan is also a popular trainer, author and lecturer on topical issues related to Alternative Dispute Resolution, including her book, “View from the Middle of the Road: A Mediator’s Perspective on Life, Conflict and Human Interaction. Please visit: