[This is  a reflection on Krista Tippett’s interview with William Ury “Becoming A Possibilist”  https://resources.soundstrue.com/transcript/becoming-a-possibilist/  https://resources.soundstrue.com/podcast/william-ury-becoming-a-possibilist/]

Conflicts and divisions surround us – between nations, communities, colleagues, even within our own families. The temptation is to see these clashes as obstacles, inevitabilities that cannot be overcome. Yet a deeper wisdom beckons to us as possibilists. We can choose to view conflicts not as dead-ends, but as openings for transformation.

Our first step on this possibilist path is to “go to the balcony.” When tensions flare, our instinct is to react rashly, lashing out or shutting down from fear and hurt. But we possess the profound capacity to pause in that heated moment. To step back and detach, if only briefly, like ascending to a balcony overlooking the scene. From this mental perspective, we can simply witness the conflict and our own turbulent feelings with non-judgmental awareness.

As we practice going to the balcony, we create space to make wise choices rather than being hijacked by knee-jerk responses that only enflame conflicts further. We are able to notice the driven urge to avoid, fight or bully our way through differences. And we can choose a more excellent way – the way of curiosity over animosity.

For we are called to build “golden bridges” between feuding sides by truly listening to understand the other’s core human needs and yearnings underneath their surface positions. With patient, open-hearted inquiry, we can uncover the fears, hopes and dignity concerns driving conflict. Then we become architects crafting creative solutions where all sides can attain their essential needs.

This bridging work requires the twin pillars of humility and audacity. We must possess the humility to release our entrenched Us vs. Them thinking, facing conflicts cleanly without filtered denial or arrogance. Yet we also need boundless audacity to keep opening to novel possibilities when situations seem impossibly stuck. Humble audacity – holding both fierce compassion and courage.

For as possibilists, we realize there is always a “third side” in every conflict – the surrounding community inevitably impacted by feuding factions, yet also the source of potential solutions. We must awaken and include the third side – allies, families, organizations and societies who can hold a larger perspective. This third side provides the vital container for conflicts to be transformed rather than destructively expressed.

When we go to the balcony, build bridges and call forth the third side, we are not pursuing some naive ideal of banishing all conflicts. Rifts born from genuine differences in human needs and perspectives will inevitably keep arising on this planet. Our task as possibilists is to keep converting “hot” conflicts based in anxiety and resentment into “cool,” constructive problem-solving rooted in mutual understanding and care for all sides.

Whether between nations, business units or family members, the steps remain the same: pause, seek to understand the other’s genuine needs, and include the third side to create conducive conditions. This path is immensely challenging, yet deeply rewarding. For we are tapping into our innate human potentials for curiosity, creativity and collaboration.

Our freedom lies not in rejecting conflicts, but in gracefully engaging them as possibilists. In this way we transform divisions from inevitabilities opportunities to honor our shared dignity and seek solutions benefiting all of life.

We do not inflame violence nor paper over chasms, but walk the sacred middle path of meeting conflict with wisdom and care.

This possibilist way requires great courage, for we must rebel against the seductive voices insisting that some conflicts are truly intractable – that some divides can never be bridged. The cynic’s cry is loud in this age of polarization: “Those people are simply too Different, too threatening. There is no possibility of transformation, only managing hostilities as best we can.”

Yet we possibilists hold a more audacious vision. We look directly at the most alienated, hardened conflicts, and we see the openings for reconciliation that others miss. For we know that underneath anger and seeming incompatibility, there remains our shared human yearning for dignity, safety, love. Even in the heart of darkness, the flicker of deeper needs persists.

We need not agree on all things, but we are called to respect the inherent worth of all people. This is what allows us to listen without prejudice, and perceive the golden bridges waiting to be built, one authentic conversation at a time.

The possibilist path is to meet those we perceive as adversaries with friendship, refusing to dehumanize even those with whom we have tremendous divides. Fear fights against fear in a downward spiral. Only compassion can break the cycle, opening hearts on all sides through the unexpected force of understanding.

And we do not walk this courageous way alone. For every conflict contains a third side – the families, communities and organizations indirectly impacted, who can choose to remain bystanders or become assertive Forces transforming conflicts into reconciliation.

These third side allies may at first appear disempowered, but we know their moral and spiritual power is immense. We call on them to participate rather than escape, hold a perspective wider than any single faction’s grievances. We invite them to become Wisdom Keepers for their whole system, using their unique leverage with each side to insist on peacemaking and creative problem solving.

And we possibilists see ourselves as ultimately this third side force for the entire human family. We insist there are always openings for conflict transformation at any scale, from couples to nations. We stand for Human Dignity and remind feuding parties of their interests that are mutual despite appearances.

We champion no one faction’s positions, but unite under the superordinate goal of peaceful coexistence in all its forms. In gentle yet unrelenting ways, we stay present to conflicts without taking sides until new pathways for resolution emerge.

When one side feels might is right, we rehumanize with empathy and care. When victimhood hardens into cynicism, we rekindle faith that transformation can still occur. We offset the dynamics fueling perpetual cycles of hurt with the unyielding conviction that reconciliation is always available, if only we stay engaged with open minds and hearts.

In this way, we possibilists hold a profoundly different vision for responding to conflicts than the typical contemporary approaches of force or avoidance. We neither dominance battle nor run away, but insistently occupy the fertile middle ground of truly hearing all sides without attachment. Our medicine is humble audacity blending bold solutions with deep listening.

We trust that by staying committed to this engaged, values-based approach, new unexpected openings will keep arising. For the universe is overflowing with creative possibilities, if we have the courage and persistence to expect miracles and stay attentive.

This is the path we are devoted to as possibilists. To keep doing the hard work of staying a non-judgmental witness, extending our caring understanding to all people in conflict. To never give up looking for the golden bridges to satisfy all parties’ core human needs. To keep calling forth the third side of encompassing communities, Organizations, and allies to midwife conflicts into their highest resolutions.

This is sacred work, yet we know it is prone to setbacks, exhaustion, and periods where all avenues seem hopelessly blocked. Even the most experienced possibilist will face impasses testing their faith in the possibility of transformation.

In these initiating trials, we must return to fundamentals – going to the balcony to renew our perspective and center ourselves in humble wisdom. We bear witness to the turbulent thoughts and emotions, neither indulging nor suppressing them. We practice compassionately observing the human drama unfolding, inside and out.

From this balcony of calm abiding, we reassess our deepest knowing that reconciliation is always possible, even if the path forward is obscured in the moment. We visualize the higher ground of mutual understanding awaiting, beyond whichever judgments or hurts currently cloud our view.

And we possibilists draw sustenance from our global community united in this liberating vision. We receive strength and inspiration from the examples throughout history of conflicts radically transformed against all odds – from the peacemaking between thousand-year adversaries, to our own personal breakthroughs in healing family rifts or workplace divides.

We share our vulnerabilities and triumphs, our questions and insights about what works to shift seeming stuck conflicts onto a more constructive trajectory. We offer each other support in embodying the paradoxical blend of bold humility needed to persevere on this arduous, sacred path.

For ultimately, our possibilist way is a daily spiritual practice of Awakening – liberating ourselves from the confining grips of fear, anger, and delusion that keep conflicts smoldering across generations. It is an inner journey of seeing misperceptions clearly, feeling restrictive emotions fully, and arriving at the unconditional freedom of an open mind and heart.

From that unveiled state of presence, we bear witness to the inherent makeup of all conflicts as clusters of unmet human needs vying imperfectly for expression and fulfillment. Seen with lucid clarity, each charged situation contains multiple truth perspectives thirsting for humble integration.

Our gift as possibilists is to hold that expansive vision of Oneness containing multitudes. We serve as spokespersons for the whole, calling all dissonant parties to the common ground of our shared entry as earthly pilgrims, each deserving of inherent dignity and care on the path.

We eschew demonizing or venting our conflicts, but simply aim to hear the sacred message pulsing beneath argumentative postures. We excel at separating the deeds from the doers, and focus on reconciling the positive forces struggling to manifest, beyond personalized blames.

This is the possibilist’s high service in these troubled times – to keep our gaze centered on transformational peacemaking, even as storms of conflict still rage around us. We are the esperancia (hope) architects and visionaries, with one foot in this dualistic reality and the other in the integrated domain we are helping co-create through our possibilist practice.

In this way, we model and midwife the transitional societal shift currently underway – from the outdated “us vs them” paradigm that bifurcates and breeds conflict, towards the unified consciousness of interbeing. We are bridges between these two worlds.

Our words and actions demonstrate that conflicts need not be frozen insolubly in duality and mistrust. By our living example, we reveal the open pathway of the “middle way” – acknowledging the realness of divisions and attending to all sides with equanimity. We prove it is possible to hold contempt for none and compassion for all.

This is the great work before us as possibilists – to keep forging the embodied practice of witnessing conflicts with impartiality, while simultaneously honoring the essential dignity and dreams within every faction’s grievances. We ensure that no voice calling for greater justice and reconciliation goes unheard or disregarded.

It is admittedly an advanced spiritual skill to abide steadily in this integrated awareness, viewing conflicts from the highest perspective even as we stay fully engaged as humble servants to facilitate mutual understanding and wisdom between inflamed sides.

Yet this is the masterful capaciousness we possess as human beings. This is our natural state of freedom that possibilism helps us unleash – to be both tranquil observers and dynamic catalysts for the conflicts of our era to transform into their highest resolutions.

So we persevere on this path, navigating the inevitable storms of doubt and fatigue through returning again and again to our practice. We go to the balcony and witness with a spacious, forgiving heart. We build the golden bridges of empathy to harmonize fragmented sides. We convene and activate the third side of surrounding communities to create conducive containers for conflicts to evolve beyond entrenched patterns.

And we stay faithful that our diligent, skillful efforts – grounded in humble audacity – will continue bearing possibilist fruit in this world. For we have seen the miracles of conflicts transcended, again and again. We know in our bones that divisions overcome become fertile grounds for the blossoming of new collaborative strengths and mutual understandings.

So we claim our roles as Possibilist Ones, answering the spiritual call to be both serene noticers and fearless warriors for reconciliation between all people on this small planet we share. With compassion’s embrace and truth’s sword ever in hand, we meet each conflict as a threshold opening to greater community, justice and communion.

In this way, we gradually midwife a more integrated, transformed reality into manifestation. A world that works for all of life. A human family unified in our diversity around the shared aim of honoring our inherent dignity as daughters and sons of the Same Radiant Source.

No matter the magnitude of conflicts currently defying resolution, we possibilists insist on holding an higher octave awareness – keeping our sights set on the fundamentally harmonic design awaiting our collaborative manifestation together. This is the great possibility before us.


William Ury advocates being a “possibilist” – seeing conflicts not just as obstacles, but as opportunities to transform them. The first step is “going to the balcony” by pausing to gain perspective and avoid reactive behavior. Building a “golden bridge” means truly listening to understand the other side’s core interests and needs behind their positions, and finding a way for both sides to get those needs met. There is always a “third side” – the surrounding community impacted – whose involvement can help transform the conflict constructively. Practicing “humble audacity” means being boldly creative while staying grounded in humility and facts. Even seemingly impossible conflicts can be transformed, as shown by examples like the Egypt-Israel peace accords. The same principles apply across all levels of conflict between human beings contending over differences. Engaging conflicts through curiosity and care for human dignity, rather than attack or avoidance, can be enormously fulfilling work that taps into our natural human potentials.


  • Being a “possibilist” means looking at conflicts and seeing opportunities to transform them, rather than just obstacles.
  • The first step is “going to the balcony” – pausing, stepping back from the situation to gain perspective and avoid reacting rashly out of fear or anger.
  • Building a “golden bridge” involves truly listening to understand the other side’s interests and needs behind their positions, and finding a way for both sides to get their core needs met.
  • There is always a “third side” – the surrounding community impacted by the conflict – whose involvement can help transform the conflict constructively.
  • Practicing “humble audacity” – being boldly creative while staying grounded in humility and facing brutal facts.
  • Even seemingly impossible conflicts can be transformed, as shown by examples like the peace accords between Egypt and Israel emerging from the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
  • The same principles apply to conflicts at all levels – between couples, colleagues, communities or nations – as they involve human beings contending over differences.
  • Engaging conflicts constructively through curiosity and care for human dignity, rather than attack or avoidance, can be enormously fulfilling work.