Newsletter #31

Newsletter # 31 — May 11, 2020

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The Coronavirus is not just an epidemiological problem, it’s a serious conflict problem.



Conflict and COVID-19 ...Continued

Our last newsletter, sent out in early April, noted how much had changed since Newsletter 29, which was sent out in January.  Now another month has gone by, and its surprising both how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same. I'm sure I don't need to repeat the stories about what's gone wrong--you already know. 

We can, however, report on what is going right. What is going right--in our minds--are first, the number of people who seem to recognize the gravity of the problem we are in, and second the number who are moving to do something about it.

As for the first group, we were heartened by the number of positive responses we got to our initial COVID-19 mailing.  A theme became evident in most of the responses: we all agreed (a month ago) that we in the U.S. ,and likely around the world, were at what was widely called "a crossroads."  We could either take the path of unity and cooperation to solve this problem together, or we could take the competitive path where every nation, state, and indeed, individual looks out for themselves and either disregards others, or even worse, blames some of those others for the problem.  

We collected reflections on the nature of this crossroads on a new blog about COVID-11 and conflict which will be updated frequently. I should note that since we sent our first letter out--and since many of the initial responses have come in--it seems that those of us taking the "collaborative road"  are losing ground to the competitive people who are following the lead of the U.S. President and looking out only for what they think is good for themselves, and not what is good for others.  This is making it increasingly difficult for the collaborators to do their work effectively, but this is not time to retreat--our efforts are needed even more now. And while many people are focusing their attention on the November election in the United States, many people will die and other problems (climate change, the economy, inequality) will get much worse a if we don't begin addressing COVID-19 and it's social, economic, and environmental impacts more effectively between now and then.

Fortunately, as I said, many people are starting to do this.  We want to add our thanks to others' who have expressed deep gratitude to the many "first responders" who are selflessly putting their own lives on the line to help those who are ill. It also includes all the people bravely continuing to do their "essential jobs," -- providing us food and other necessities -- very often without adequate workplace protection, for lousy pay, and worse benefits (if they have any benefits at all). In addition to saying "thanks" to these folk--we should all do what we can to support them--advocate for better pay and benefits, wear masks to help our communities, and help out wherever else we can.  Gratitude is also owed many (but not all!) state governors and community leaders who are doing their best to protect their communities, often despite strong opposition to their efforts both locally and in Washington.

The conflict resolution and peacebuilding community is also beginning to respond.  We at Beyond Intractability are beginning to collect stories about people in our own and allied fields who have started projects or adjusted ongoing projects to help meet the challenge of COVID and the conflicts it is generating or exacerbating.  If you have a project that you'd be willing share on Beyond Intractability, please let us know!  Just send us a link, or an emailed description.  Right now we're just posting these things as we get them (actually, we're behind at the moment, but we're working to catch up), but we are also working on developing a coding system and database of activities related to COVID-19 or to our Constructive Conflict Initiative more generally, which will be searchable by category of activity. More on that in a month or two. 

Selected Recent Posts

In the meantime, here's some selected recent posts, including a good number of those "Colleague Activity Posts" which describe constructive responses to COVID and its impacts.To see all recent posts, go to All CC-MOOS Posts.

From the Colleague Activities Blog 

From the Conflict Fundamentals Seminar

  • Bystanders -- It's time for those caught in the middle to take a more active role in limiting the many ways in which they are harmed by the fights of others.  -- Apr 20 

From the BI Knowledge Base: 

From the Beyond Intractability in Context Blog

All CC-MOOS Posts

About the MBI Newsletters

Every two weeks or so, we will compile the new posts from our various seminars and blogs into a Newsletter that will be posted here and sent out by email to subscribers. You can sign up to receive your copy on our Newsletter Sign Up Page and find the latest newsletter here on our Newsletter page. Past newsletters can be found in the Newsletter Archive. 

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