by Terry Abts

I mediated a civil harassment case between two teenage girls; essentially young women. Both felt picked on and threatened by the other. Different ethnic backgrounds, same ages, both with their mothers present.  One wanted a restraining order on the other. The respondent was just angry at being there.

I observed that I could easily have been their grandfather, hence the focus of this commentary. But, hey, I’m hip and felt I could span that particular gulf. So, I focused on their ability and freedom to make choices. As I listened to them, I heard familiar stories from my youth, from my child rearing years and as a manager of people from my personal career. I suggested that they had a great opportunity to determine their own outcome in life by the choices they make on a daily basis. Each has the right to grow up in a peaceful environment of co-existence. However, it is their individual responsibility to recognize this right in each other. I mentioned that there were others in the courthouse on that day facing more serious legal issues because they chose differently. I truly hope they were listening to what I was proposing.

The other dynamic at play was the effect of their personal support, their mothers, in helping these young women to make better choices. One mother appeared to appreciate what I was saying, the other not so much.  I brought the mothers into the commitment process and told them they were part of the solution. Three generations with three different perspectives. I only wish that on that day, we were all listening to each other and hearing what was said. I believe that peace in the world can be attained through individual effort. It has to start somewhere; why not here and why not now?