"I Know This is Petty, but..."

I started my career working for an amazing nonprofit that provides online, intercultural dialogue opportunities for young adults from the “West” and predominantly muslim countries.  I got to spend my working hours supporting the most incredible conversations on topics like Israel/Palestine, media literacy, and human rights.  I totally drank the Kool-Aid, and ended up staying for 10 years.

People marvel that I chose to leave that behind and work with angry volunteers and co-workers every day.  Matt once told me that he’d initially suspected I’d get bored after having worked on such “big” issues. Even clients tell me all the time: “I know this is petty, but…”  

The funny thing is, it’s usually not petty at all.  I’m not trying to say you’re office stalemate is going nuclear anytime soon, but the issues I see day-to-day haven’t changed in the slightest.  Conflict, or things we think of as conflict, grow from the same seeds, no matter where you are in the world.  Poor communication, unclear expectations, place-based decisions… none of it is exclusive to high-stakes dialogue in the Middle East.

In a way, it’s actually a little reassuring to know how freakishly similar we all are.  If there were ever hope for sustainable peace in our time, maybe it’s that we all fight exactly the same way.


Kate Negrón