“Wouldn’t it feel good to be able to be close to your brother again? To leave all of the baggage of the past? To celebrate the great memories? To plan important futures?”
She shifted uncomfortably in her chair and instinctively picked up her car keys, signaling her imminent departure. I let my questions hover. Finally, she broke her silence.
“Yes,” she started slowly. “but . . .”
“But” is technically a conjunction, but it’s most common effect is that of an injunction.
“But what?” I asked.
“But I have a bad feeling that it will cost me too much.” And with that she left the room and the mediation.
I picked through her words. Reconciliation . . . would cost her too much.
Sitting at my table, parties spend a large amount of their time in deliberation — computing the price tag of peace. Oddly, for most of them, the hope of peace and the balm of reconciliation is what brought them in. Yet the fear of the cost torments them. Not the financial cost. Not the loss of access to property. No, the fear that haunts them is the loss of power that the conflict brings them.
The power to disrupt someone else’s life. The power to withhold something or someone from another who wants that thing or some semblance of a relationship. The power to bring someone else to the mediation table to talk about the past only long enough to alter the future. The power of self-justification.
The price of releasing power is too great for some to pay.