North Chicago Conflict Resolution Institute
(a work in progress)
The nccri is a semi-fictional organization created to help people peacefully resolve internal conflicts and conflicts with others. Sometimes it teaches skills they need to accomplish this, but often times it just reminds them to use what they already know. Of course, the principles can be just simply stated for people to use if they choose, but when ideas are attached to a structure or organization, and practice is encouraged we often find it easier to use them when we need them.
So, the nacre was created as an entity to provide that structure, and is called an institute instead of a club, because of the educational component. The value of this general approach can be demonstrated with an example involving my friend William. He came across a kitten stuck in a tree. He was in a hurry to get where he was going, and was tempted to walk on, however, he remembered he was a member of the Help-A-Treed-Kitten Club (HATKC) and stopped to help poor tabby down.
The nccri was formed out of a concern as serious as the HATKC’s (I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying this) is frivolous. It was developed to help veterans meet the goal of preventing combat solutions to non-combat problems. The military teaches skills for violent resolution of conflict, and the American military does it particularly well. The lessons learned in the military, before and during combat, helped veterans survive there, and may even help veterans survive violent situations in civilian settings. However, when people are so well trained for and experienced in combat, that kind of solution can come out automatically, before other solutions are considered, especially when there is stress involved. It should be said that it is not just the military that teaches aggression, and employs anger to block hurt, many parents and others involved in child raising teach or foster a similar martial approach, which gets absorbed and can dominate reactions to stress.
The internal combat response does not only involve emotions, it also involves thinking patterns. The thinking pattern that becomes most likely to turn non-combat situations violent is rapidly thinking of others as enemies. This may save lives in war, but can be self defeating, increasing rather than limiting risk outside the combat zone.
This institute was originally established, about 25 or 30 years ago , in conjunction with the Stress Disorder Treatment Unit (SDTU) at what is now called the Lovell Federal Health Care Facility. nccri activities partially overlap with SDTU programs for both resident and non-resident participants. It is a principle of the Institute that successful study of peaceful conflict resolution, when appropriate, will go hand in hand with decreases in symptoms of PTSD for those who have these symptoms. However, the distress and disruption of meaningful and pleasurable functioning that may come with having been in war cannot be fully described in terms of psychiatric symptoms. They must also be considered from other points of view, spiritual, philosophical, educational, vocational, and social. These are more the purview of exploration and education than treatment.
To be a member of the nccri one only has to agree that making peaceful conflict resolution, when possible, is a goal. Membership in the Institute is completely voluntary. There is no list of members. However, the founder Howard Lipke, is the only one authorized to decide what is, or is not, an official activity of the nccri. A membership card is offered below, it can be downloaded and printed.
Howard Lipke, PhD