Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Most Memorable Mediation

Achismach Yisrael, S.O.S. Outreach Worker
Many people are interested to know what the work of an S.O.S. Outreach Worker actually entails on a day-to-day basis. What follows is a first person account from our own Achisimach Yisrael about his most memorable mediation with S.O.S.
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My most memorable mediation is also one of the most recent. It was back in June, and a 14-year-old boy in our community had just been murdered. Our team was getting ready to go to his funeral. Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows of our storefront office, we saw a group of close to 100 young men approaching from the direction of the church where the funeral was taking place. They weren’t breaking stride for no one or nobody. We saw the looks on their faces: the look was of revenge.

Our team sprang into action. Half of us went to the area where they were headed—where they hoped to find the people they thought were responsible for their friend’s death. The other half of us followed the group. Out of the crowd, we recognized young men who we had worked with before. Although we were outnumbered 15 to 1, we tried to talk them down, to cool them off. “How many of you are fathers?” I asked. “Are you ready to leave your children?” Our goal in a mediation is to get people to reflect on the loved ones who will be impacted in the long-term. We want them to think about those things that are usually lost in the heat of the moment.

Eventually, we were able to turn them around. We prevented a retaliation, which could have led to more retaliation and more killing. Our success stemmed from the rapport that we had established prior to this incident. Our ability to prevent violence is dependent on our ability to be credible messengers, to build trust and establish dialogue. This mediation stands out in my mind because it’s a testament to the work that we’ve done to successfully establish ourselves as leaders in our community.

Special thanks to Jonah Newman, Editor-In-Chief of The 195, for compiling this story. 

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