by Talia Smith and Manon Michelle Monhemius
According to the World Bank, 80% of humanitarian crises are conflict-related. The very origin of these crises, beyond the common reasons of economic/ territorial gain or religion, is the breakdown of trust.
As Peace Studies author Mariska Kappmeier writes, 'Intuitively, we have an implicit understanding of trust, yet when trying to describe the concept, it becomes clear that trust is complex and elusive. Although it is widely recognised that a lack of trust propels groups toward conflict and prevents them from settling.' (Mariska Kappmeier University of Hamburg Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, American Psychological Association, 2016).
An international program to build trust locally
Trust is the moral foundation for the functioning of democracy and for building healthy communities in any society.
The Trustbuilding Program is designed to build the capacity of community leaders to apply Initiatives of Change's (IofC) principles and values to specific social contexts of racial, ethnic, class or religious division (and multiple other places where trust has been broken), and it offers a methodology for implementation.
In summary: 'Creating space for change in our communities is an art in which we are all learners. It requires skills of the head and the heart. By identifying and releasing personal "baggage" – in the words of John Coleman – we can create a welcoming environment for others. Through inclusive dialogue, we can hear each other's stories and invite others to share our journey. In acknowledging painful history, we can move toward understanding, shared responsibility, and, ultimately, forgiveness and reconciliation. Through genuine partnerships and sustained teamwork, we can begin to build trust and to bring about change where it is most difficult and most needed.' Rob Corcoran, Trustbuilding: An Honest Conversation on Race, Reconciliation, and Responsibility, (University of Virginia Press, 2010 and 2017).
These are the four steps of the TBP's methodology to building trust in different contexts, cultures, and divisions.
1. Change starts with me
Participants explore the role of everyone becoming an authentic trustbuilder and change agent by focusing on personal practices and values that build trust and promote sustainable social change. Doing so means having the courage to take a personal inventory of attitudes and behaviours, including relationships and personal priorities; becoming aware of privilege and unconscious bias; and developing spiritual practices such as inner listening.