In this blog series I am likening conflict transformation to conflict composting. We have seen that this process of composting is actually taking the dead matter, adding some elements of air and water and finally putting some little critters called microbes into the mix and the result is rich blend that regenerates the soil. I suggested that the dead plant matter we added first might be analogous to the trauma and brokenness that violent conflict leaves in its wake and be seen as an opportunity for new growth.
This week we add air and water which will make the composting a transformative work. They are but two elements of four (earth, air/sky, water, fire) that are sacred to indigenous spiritualities and necessary to all life on earth. They should not be owned by any individual but freely available to all. These two elements of air and water are analogous to the very foundations of our social lives.
The first element air, I suggest, corresponds to the rich tapestry of communications within our relationships. Communicating with those around us happens by pheromone, body language, emotion, oh and yes, voice. Add to that the disembodied means of communicating like the phone, email and social networking. This essential ingredient is a resource for composting conflict. While violence alienates, communicating reconnects. With our compost pile, not enough air pockets throughout means that the microbes charged with breaking down the refuse will not breathe well enough and be stifled in filling their function. If air is analogous to communication, then too little of that element will leave us with unresolved and/or uncomposted residuals from damaging conflict.
The second element necessary for proper composting is water. The right amount of water is crucial for microbe health and makes our compost bind together. This is analogous to our bonds clan or tribe. Understanding our valued place within the more complex social structures surrounding us binds us to that community in healing ways.
Cut off from those elements, we are quickly incapacitated by isolation and eventually cease developing just as our soil composting process would stop. Tending to a balance of these two elements results in a conflict composting process thrives.