Why Are We Yelling?

This lovely book stumbles onto most of the key principles we peacebuilders talk about and grapple with—and does so with grace and humor. He dispels many of the myths about conflict resolution, especially the (supposed) notion that arguing only leads us into trouble. In fact, as he points out, good arguments (occasionally including yelling) may be necessary if we want to find creative solutions to problems. Therein lies the key to the book and to productive disagreements in general on two levels. First, he asks us to think of our disagreements as including questions of evidence, emotion, and practical utility. Second and more importantly, he suggests that the best arguments are held intentionally in ways that open up opportunities for clarifying the issues I mentioned in the previous sentence while simultaneously makes new insights and initiatives possible. That’s particularly important in these troubled times because Benson advocates disagreements in which everyone’s  biases and preconceptions—especially including you own—get challenged. Perhaps most importantly of all, unlike most of my colleagues who have written in this space, Benson brings his case close to home with real world examples, including many drawn from the Benson clan’s experiences  in dealing with what he calls the “voice of possibility.”. A must read for anyone interested in our current ideological divisions or conflict resolution in general.