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How do you sell peace 
in an adversarial world?

If society views relationship breakdown as predominantly adversarial, mediation will be seen as a difficult choice - but it's a challenge we must meet, writes Julia Thackray

8 December 2015

A Friday night in October in a hotel banqueting room near Washington DC and a group of lawyers ?and other professionals eat a conference dinner, talk shop, and anticipate the keynote speech. 

An hour later they are singing protest songs led by a man in his late 70s with an acoustic guitar. Keynote speaker, and sing-along leader, Peter Yarrow of the 60s band Peter, Paul and Mary is speaking about Operation Respect, an anti-bullying project working with young people. ?His audience is the Academy of Professional Family Mediators, gathered for their 2015 conference under the title ‘Selling Peace in an Adversarial World’. The title seems appropriate for Yarrow, known for a lifetime of activism, as well as for ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’ and ‘Leaving on ?a Jet Plane’, but how was this relevant to the work of the average family mediator? 

As it turned out, this seeming incongruity was a pivotal theme of the weekend and a reflection...

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