The Third Side is us. As simple societies like the Semai have long recognized, it is everyone's responsibility to prevent harmful conflict. "You have to help resolve a dispute," one Semai explained. "If you don't intervene and something happens between the two disputants, you are accountable." "Friends for life don't let friends fight" is the slogan of a successful media campaign against violence in Boston. That could be the motto of the Third Side.
We may not think of ourselves as third parties - in fact we generally don't. Yet each of us has the opportunity to serve as a third party in the conflicts around us - either as outsiders or as insiders. We constitute the family, the friends, the colleagues, the neighbors, the onlookers, the witnesses. Even when no third party is present, each of us has the opportunity to mediate our own disputes by taking the Third Side.
In short, the Third Side is not some mysterious or special other. It is us. The missing alternative to force and domination is in our hands.
Getting to peace is rarely easy, but there are some simple steps any of us can take to begin to mobilize the Third Side:
- Change the story
Learn some skills
Start close to home
Mediate your own disputes
Do what you do best
Volunteer your services
Fill a missing role
Create a winning alliance
Urge your organization to take the Third Side
Support the Third Side in the wider community
Help build Thirdsider institutions
Help create a social movement