Prayers at public meetings of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors dispute are going to mediation. Barbara Hudson is being represented by the ACLU and is arguing she feels like an outsider. The remaining Board members argue she is doing this out of spite and there is no evidence she has been treated unfairly. Mediation is a good place to sort out the underlying emotions that seem to be present here. It would be great if the parties could come without lawyers. They have to start thinking as people and not as positions. Furthermore, a good mediator should, from the get-go, discuss the level of work and commitment to the process that is required and then work hard to gain the trust of the parties to up that level of commitment. Also, the mediator should remind these people of the responsibility of their role on the Commission and the requirement that they are able to show the community they can work together and problem solve. Solving their own issues exemplifies a unified body that would translate well to the community engendering confidence and a feeling of community unity necessary to move a community forward. This sets the stage for the mediator to start dissecting fears and motives and beliefs that are driving this conflict.
Being entrenched in Church v State arguments will get these people nowhere. It takes this problem to a level it simply does not belong. In fact, if these people could solve this problem in mediation it can set such a precedent for how we Americans whose country was founded on diversity choose to work with one another where some real core beliefs are operating. These issues should not always have to end up with a winner and a loser. We can stretch more than that…I know it.
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