Courts all over Ontario have closed down except for emergency situations. Unfortunately, conflicts don’t take a break. As much as we want to get along well, especially now in this terrible pandemic, we can’t avoid human conflict. Conflicts can be either destructive, like the virus in which we are now entangled, or they can be constructive and teach us something about ourselves, something which will strengthen our immune system and help us deal with future conflict in a similarly constructive way. Mediation has that vision – help people help themselves.
Politicians can’t protect us from the virus just like they can’t protect us from conflict. It is up to us to take all the necessary steps to protect ourselves with guidance from our health care professionals and from our leaders. We learn from them how to make ourselves safe, how to solve the virus problem for ourselves.
Mediators are the professionals who can help us work through conflicts so that we are in control – we are the ones who find solutions to our conflicts which are best for us and for our neighbour with whom we are having the conflict. Through mediation, we learn that we can control the virus of conflict, we ourselves can put a stop to it with the help of the right mediator.
With the courts shut down, if mediation does not work for us, what can we do then? How do we get a decision from someone in power who can give direction and solve a difficult problem? That’s where arbitration can help. By agreement, anyone who is in conflict can give an arbitrator the authority to make a binding decision which resolves the conflict.
Thanks to technology, we can have a meeting on our computer screens anywhere in the world with anyone else no matter how far away. We can see and speak with each other no matter where we are. Whether or not this means the end of office buildings and real-world meeting rooms, who knows. But in these terrible times when covid makes us wary of direct human contact, we can use this wonderful technology to access the services of both mediation and arbitration.
If you are worried about the covid virus, and you have a conflict, think about using mediation and, if needed, arbitration. The courts might be shut down but mediators and arbitrators can still function. Almost everything you can do in person can be done “virtually” without human contact.
Let’s find ways to help each other stay safe–to find the solutions for ourselves and those we love.