Welcome to my World · 4180 days ago

However, it isn’t really “my” world alone. In fact, what motivated me to start blogging is the is the mysterious attraction this medium holds for the introverts of the world, a group in which I hold life membership. Here I can rather comfortably talk to myself and everyone else at the same time. It often seems as though it is a way of letting others into the often impenetrable portions of my experiece. It also has the grace of not mandating anyone to explore those regions who isn’t interested in so doing.

If you are not an introvert you may be surprised to learn that the universe is not only something you engage outside of yourself. Rather inside you, in your head, heart and imagination.

This isn’t quite as self-important or pretentious as it may sound. There are lines of William Blake’s that have always resonated with me: “There are things seen and things unseen, and between them are doors.” Each of us see and fail to see some aspects of reality. My take on the introvert/extrovert distinction has been that extroverts approach reality through the “seen” and introverts through the “unseen.”

Our task of course, in this postmodern era, is not to privilege one path or another, but to expose and open the “doors” between them. Although I wasn’t always aware of or interested them, thie door sof diversity and inclusivity has opened was opened for me some years back. That’s another story for another day.

I suppose that I would describe myself as an “eclectician.” My academic background lies in the “discipline” of philosophy, if a discipline it is. As you may know the further one travels the traditional academic path the narrower one’s focus is supposed to become. When I ended my formal doctoral studies I was told I was a scholar of Ethics, with a concentration in Philosophy of Law and Jurisprudence.

Indeed, I entered my doctoral studies after a decade or so of practising law, and I did enrol in courses which reflected ethical issues and questions. However going back to Philosophy, I thought and hoped, meant opening doors which the “real discipline” of Law either refused to search for walk through once found.

My program in Philosophy of Law at the University of Western Ontario was one that had been truly tamed by its deference, even envy, of the mainstream world of legal institutions and practice. The program was run by philosophy professors, allegedly in partnership with like minded colleagues in the law school. In fact, if one was in the program and di not have a law degree, it was required that s/he enrol “unofficially” in the first year law program, ostensibly to learn to think like a lawyer, as law schools have traditionally chanted the first year program does.

All well and good I guess for those who hungered to explore the mysteries of the legal worldview but who had not been initiated into the profession, and thus who could never claim to be “real” lawyers, only envious thralls.

The end result was that I joined another group, this one I still hold faint hopes of being paroled from, the ABD (all but dissertation) student. We are those who have completed all requirements for official “doctorhood” other than completing the dissertation.

I did complete a first draft of a dissertation on the parallel paths I had noted between developments in logic and argumentation and those in dispute resolution processes. By time I went back to revising it however I had walked through so many other doors that I no longer recognized what I had written as being meaningful to me any longer. Not that what I had written was “wrong” in any meaningful sense. Within the much smaller context I had written it in, it was probably true and perhaps might have been even vaguely interesting to some. There’s a market for everything as they say.

No, I had come to realize that I, had been asking a question in my research that was too small, too unchallenging. Those of you who have done doctoral work, will likely be scratching your heads wondering what I am talking about. Small, narrowly defined, research questions are what doctoral dissertations are supposed to explore. To earn the title of “doctorhood” you need to demonstrate that you know an awful lot about a very narrow slice of experience, microscopically small is best.

At a time when Anglo-American analytic philosophy totally dominated the university I was at there was no encouragement for any other kind of investigation. My dissertation adviser was incapable or unwilling to enage this problem I was experiencing. Ultimately I was cut loose, as most ABDs are, to finish a dissertation on my own and come back, if an when, I was ready to be examined on it. In fairness a large part of this relates to the requirements graduate programs are under to maintain their accreditations. But there was a fundamental turning point in my thinking after learning how uninterested my “advisor” was in anything I experienced. I think it is fair to observe, that this man did not relate to introverts well. The other side of that of course is that I, as an introvert, did not relate well to him. I only came to understand this failure to thrive in our relationship later in life. Timing is everything, as another wise maxim reminds us.

Enough background for now. Although this biographical rambling may hold little interest for you, it is the path which an introvert, at least this introvern, needs to travel to reach places where we may share interests, passions questions. As I continue to write my hope is to categorize entries in a way that allows the reader to travel directly to areas of interest, without slogging through the tortuous meanderings which I have personally taken to reach them. However, at times the connections between things are more interesting and fruitful than the things themselves. This is something Kant and his successors, of which there were many at Western, don’t quite get.

I ultimately found my calling. Today I “am” a MEDIATOR.

Technically, I am for the most part employed these days as an arbitrator, but the reality of this position is that the job title is not really reflective of the work done. To qualify that a bit, it is possible to do the job I do within the traditional narrow definition of an arbitrator or adjudicator and some of my colleagues still prefer to frame their roles in that fashion. However my experience has been that there is less and less a call for such services to be rendered. Traditional arbitrators and adjudicators, of whom I shall speak more of in the future, offer services that now are increasingly of interest only to niche markets. These niches are important, my only point is that they are no longer reflective of many conflict situations which ordinary people and organizations experience.

What I hope to do here is to explore, in some interesting and iften challenging ways, the space of conflict resolution. But I intend to explore it from a very eclectic point of view.

I came to Medation through Philosophy and through Law. Both have informed my world view but neither define it.

For Mediation and other kindred forms of conflict resolution to flourish our cognitive, emotional and institutional worlds need to grow much bigger and more diverse. We need to become both archeologists and architects of dispute processing institututions. We need to learn from and then trascend and transform adversarial legal processes into more fair, reasonable and democratic ones.

Today the transformative benefits of Mediation still largely lay hidden behind doors that are all but inaccessible to many. There are many reasons why these doors have remained hidden and shut. The task of this space is to open a crack through which the light on the other side can shine through.

I welcome your company on the journey.

— Robert Kominar