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Donna Hicks on Dignity and Conflict Resolution (BOOK REVIEW)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) August 15, 2011: Liberals have been turning somersaults trying to understand President Obama. But Donna Hicks' new book DIGNITY: THE ESSENTAIL ROLE IT PLAYS IN RESOLVING CONFLICTS (Yale University Press, 2011) may help us better understand President Obama.

By happy coincidence, her book has been published during the presidency of a president who strongly fancies himself as a would-be resolver of conflicts. In addition, he excels is communicating his regard for the dignity of different people, including such recalcitrant rascals as Tea Party Republicans. However, if President Obama were to examine Hicks' ten values and qualities that she regards as essential for dignity, he might not find any to accuse himself of not manifesting toward the Tea Party Republicans in the recent debate about raising the debt ceiling. In short, Obama probably manifested no deficiency with respect to her ten values and qualities.

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In the final analysis, I have no serious quarrel with any of her ten essential elements of dignity as prescriptions for would-be interveners to follow in their interventions in conflicts:

(1) acceptance of identity

(2) inclusion

(3) safety

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(4) acknowledgment

(5) recognition

(6) fairness

(7) benefit of the doubt

(8) understanding

(9) independence

(10) accountability.

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She devotes one chapter to defining and explaining each of these ten elements.

Yes, I would even agree that would-be interveners should work to inculcate these ten elements in the participants in the conflict-to-be-resolved inasmuch as it is possible for the interveners to inculcate these values and qualities in the participants in the conflict.

But the participants in certain conflicts are not going to buy into these ten values and qualities. Instead, the participants are going to resist buying into all ten of them.

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www.d.umn.edu/~tfarrell
Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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