Introduction: Standing Tall
The need to negotiate compels us from birth to begin commanding our environment to our greatest advantage. Toddlers know too well the benefits of working the system in order to secure a cookie outside of parental permission, believing they know what is best for themselves in doing so. The successful act of cookie procurement, however, may not rank nearly as high as negotiating ourselves out of trouble if caught.
Throughout our youth we learn the benefits of bargaining on the playground; when bartering for freedoms withheld on reasons of immaturity; or, in some cases, negotiating to retain our innocence as long as possible as we're pushed into roles of adulthood long before our time.
As adults, many will enter the world of manifold responsibility and, with it, the imperative to preserve what we can of our interests in a world which seems bent on driving us between offensive and defensive postures.
As we live our lives, we daily negotiate for everything, from who handles domestic chores, to time off work in order to take care of an appointment. In our broader cultures, within our neighborhoods we may negotiate to preserve everything from the value, sanctity and peaceable surroundings of our home; to our use of the land; our access to clean water; and, the safety of our families.
Depending upon the positions we take in service to community, we may find ourselves negotiating broken systems into production; an endangered public toward safety; threatened investments to preservation; and, important causes to fruition.
Politically, we elect or endure appointed surrogates of our interests as, presumably and on our behalf, they embark to negotiate complex and sculpted policies influencing among other things, commercial markets; public safety; health care; food production; environmental integrity; even, the curriculum and school lunches fed to our children.
Sometimes, we must find ways of negotiating our negotiators out of the back room and back into the light of day.
Throughout it all, we push, pull, bite, threaten, bicker and shout - even, in desperation, with ourselves. Some will give up. Some will hide. All of us, enduring what we can.
Good heavens, there is a better way.
In a competitive world, in a dysfunctional world, in a hostile world, negotiation is a required skill.
No longer is our world a stable one, predictable in its model of functionality, slowly unfolding across the span of our lifetime. No longer, then, are our conflicts small, simple or comprised of easily identified, near factors easily manipulated by ourselves in order to reach equilibrium or growth.
Today, as individuals, we are influenced by a scant handful but very powerful defining forces acting aggressively and in haste to shape our lives, dreams, means and personal assets. Increasingly, those influences interconnect in a natural pattern of global growth and emergence.
The common denominator of any organization of any kind - whether commercial, bureaucratic, or social - is the quest for power as well as a preoccupation with keeping and applying it in order to gain more. There is, unfortunately, no grand humanitarian plan accounting for the isolated, the innocent, the disenfranchised, the resourceless.
Where organized interests coalesce and advance across a landscape of opportunity, individuals may find themselves very much alone and struggling to defend the most sacred but readily sacrificed notions of human rights and independence.
Power, wealth and political policies which are employed to encourage or discourage the slate of human endeavors increasingly rule commerce associated with fundamental human need and ancient pursuits of agriculture, transportation, communication, energy and defense. Now, the scope of what was once provided by a natural environment - even potable water, breathable air and associated health itself are becoming objects of manipulation and therefore trade.
Increasingly, as individuals, our needs grow dependent upon global commerce and political conditions. We grow dependent upon the will of others to preserve and provide conditions necessary to life itself.
For some and for only a time, provisions flow easier, more freely. For others, food, water, housing, personal health and safety grow scarce, as they are tied to the will of others. For all, the singular, foundational and generating resource - our earth - inwardly collapses under geo-political and industrially competitive processes and pressures.
A 1,000 year time-lapse satellite view of earth would appear as nothing more than a viral assault upon a small, singular organism. That is how relentlessly we have consumed our host as we've replicated ourselves across its diminishing surface - most of the activity taking place in the last 200 years, post industrialization.
As a global civilization, we are evolving out of a continually and broadly warring culture growing evermore reliant upon widely positioned wealth and political power to secure resource dominance over one another. Yet, we do so without a broad view of our actions upon future, sustainable conditions or populations.
Law has long been the basis of fair and stable civilizations. But, in the wake of globalization, it has been forced to act as a mere slave of commerce and political agenda.
As a generated force, commerce values and seeks only the latest, greatest source of cheapest production and consumption around the world. As a people, capable of generating commerce, we have forgotten our larger, deeper, broader selves. We have forgotten to value and honor necessary ideals of human rights and environmental sustainability.
If we relegate the course of evolving civilization to a commercially driven basis, we are destined for a plight of accelerated global degradation and bitter conflict over economies, resources, even cultural values dictating custom and practice.
Only a fool would confine profit to a measure of money. Those who arrogantly reach to pen our common ending on their bottom lines should not express shock when a red impression pours forth.
As a majority of our masses benefit from short-term political dominance and engage in relative peacetime growth, we become increasingly insulated from conflict outside our scope of interest, all the while intimately affected by the distant instability of an interconnected world.
We are in a period of intense transition but don't quite grasp its implications, let alone the need to negotiate them broadly.
Removed from our own personal generation of resources like food and transportation, we become compartmentalized in our need, ignorant of its supply and evolve in quieted conditions without a mechanism to counter our growing sense of entitlement toward peace without understanding its basis and need for nurturing.
Apathy and disregard for the mechanisms that create and sustain peace are undermining our ability to sustain it. We now take for granted what our fore bearers fought to secure.
In an ironic belief that we will sustain peace and supply, we are willing to assign both our autonomy as well as our sustaining cosmic host to people and systems which seek to manipulate or destroy them for their own short term gain. Yet, little do we seem to realize that greed and corruption are perennial thieves of ethics and justice, leaving a vacuum inviting of social discord and decay.
Sometimes, our compliance with destabilizing systems is won through direct, physical threat, and we know it. Other times, our unwitting allegiance is won through political posturing and partnerships formed far from our physical daily lives, and only hinted at through the threads of our daily supplies and interactions.
We have not only forgotten how to nurture, preserve and defend ourselves and our homes, but we've lost our ability to recognize what's even worth tending and defending. Even as we expand our horizons actual and virtual - ever-broadening our definition of territory, we do so without a basis of global belonging.
As such, even as we briefly rise from thousands of years of discord, we descend into a vacuum of conflict, even violence - much of it enabled by our own hand.
Whether or not we intend to oppose an intricately dependent global power structure in order to win and butter our daily bread, our every human pursuit is linked to the web of trade, production, consumption, destruction and construction - whether reflected in a trip to the grocer, pumping a gallon of gas, heating our home, sending an e-mail, depositing a pay check or enduring a labor strike.
We unite in both our efforts to build power and destroy it in others. In a crowded world of depleted resources, need is multiplied and our applications of control grow more intimate and urgent.
Innovative technologies enabling ancient principals of nature's leverage, such as strength in numbers, tactical engagement, secrecy in isolation, cooperative and competitive behaviors, are now both facilitating and driving our individual reactions to environmental pressure.
In this increasingly complex, technical and shared global environment, oppressors can arise without even realizing they are acting oppressively. Others can organize for that specific purpose. Societies can emerge in opposition to established systems and to one another with or without purpose or planning. Worse, and acting to exacerbate conflict, is the increasingly diminished capacity of refuge as the world grows more homogenized in its oppressive tendencies and broader populations find similarity in their inability to flee from or find justice in an oppressive situation.
The greater our disengagement from the consequences of our own actions, our own presumptions, our own perceptions and inabilitiesâ¦ the greater inhumanity we exhibit toward all living things and systems effected by our sense of justified insulation and immunity. But, the farther we stray from the shared basis of life, the louder the call to pay closer attention.
In the interest of preserving civil liberties while providing for a secure society, we now must consider the underlying root of dissent within a very broad, even global cultural context.
Those tasked with stabilizing societies are only human and therefore fallible and susceptible to their own personal and cultural bias. We must then evolve beyond our tendency to simply define, label and categorize dissent and dissenters as a means of addressing threat as well as justifying our operations in response to them.
The most reasonable means of considering this debacle is through holistic awareness of causes of conflict and the basis of human response to it - recognizing the need to negotiate, and nurturing equity to fairly facilitate it.
We must maintain an overview of conflict. We must ask why it has generated. What is the modest, or reasonable and rational perspective between two polarized ideals? What is supporting conflict? How can confrontation be supplanted with negotiated solution? How can opposing interests evolve together toward a more sustainable future?
Once we isolate conditions and causes of conflict as well as populations responding to them, we can evoke measures to diffuse and build conciliation, ultimately contributing to stability and a conservation of resources as well as liberty.
At the heart of negotiations lies the need to neutralize, deconstruct and reconstruct.
Most efforts fail because of a fear of conflict, or because of a loss of focus and momentum. Protracted negotiations are usually representative of entrenched conflict and intricate, supporting structures of fortified resistance. Therefore, constructive negotiations must aim to evolve an adversary, not simply oppose them. Productive negotiations does so while securing vital interests. All conflict, then, is merely an opportunity to structure evolved solution.
Each of us is uniquely enabled to engage one another. Whether through the extraordinary gifts of five senses, mobility, functionality, reason or courage - whether fully outfitted with the capacity and financial wherewithal to connect across a global network of technology - we each, through our gratitude, humility and recognition of duty bring enormous value, skill and ability to collectively right wrong wherever it exists. And, sometimes, against the toughest odds, a concurrent flurry of unlikely circumstances will yield astonishing, effective, even beautiful results.
And we evolve together, gracefully, within the highest potential of our capabilities.
The techniques and approaches I have effectively employed and outlined in You And What Army... apply across a diverse spectrum of situations, abilities and interests. Some aspects are routine to the craft of negotiation; others are simply unfamiliar or applied anew to unlikely situations; still others I have devised as reflections of my experience. Your experience will, of course, be your own, as will be the outcome of any implementation.
I share them with the abiding knowledge that you and I can better the world more directly, more immediately, more effectively.
We are at a point in the evolution of our collective civilization that we must change fundamentally in order to survive. Adherence to old mannerisms, methodologies and means have critically compromised innovation and threatened sustainability. Social inequities persist, as does prejudice, oppression and violence.
Like the natural dichotomy of life itself, this book provides tools, but not the motive to implement.
I hope the knowledge and methodologies in these pages help lead us to a better world - a collective family more aware and tolerant, more empathetic, more compassionate, more driven toward sustainability, more possessed of our highest humanity and the will to nurture it in others.
While, for a time, truth may be withheld, frustrated or oppressed, we can act within our limitless abilities to liberate it and inspire others equally in accordance with higher good, better purpose, shared benefit.
Even when we are cut off at the knees, we can stand tall, especially when we stand together on the side of justice, and even more so when we elevate one another on shared shoulders.
The irony of this book lies in its ability to equally fortify those who would act in accordance with higher goals, and those who would muster an effort against them. But, the same could be said of a stick, a flag, or a spiritual text. The same could be said for our own potential as living vessels and instruments.
In its analytical capacity, this book represents a device of stability. In it's applicability, a tool of equilibrium.
It is, of course, your choice in how you will regard conflict and your role in it.
On to Negotiation: Benefiting From Gauged and Shepherded Solutions