Peacemaking invites confrontation - Stockholm City Hall as object lesson

Not many people like to be told they are wrong, even if it's good news. Thus, settling disputes is not often like the end of Rocky IV where Rocky ends the cold war thru an impassioned speech and good sportsmanship.

More often, true peacemaking is finding a creative solution, and resisting the binary choices offered by either party in conflict. In other words, telling both sides they are wrong, but in a constructive way.

I recently, on the advice of the Rick Steves show, toured Stockholm City Hall. The Hall is very impressive, constructed only by Swedes about 100 years ago. Above and to the side of the Blue Hall, where the Nobel Prize ceremony is held every December, is the gold room. This room is completely covered in gold mosaic. When the building was being constructed, the designers really wanted gold mosaic even though it wasn't a Swedish art form. They found a Swede to do it, but he was very inexperienced, and not given much time. This is fabulously shown at the end of the hall where the wall was not as high as thought, and as such the patron saint of Stockholm's head is missing.

On the other end, is the Queen of the Lake, representing Sweden. On her left is the west, energetically shown with the US flag, Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower.

On her right, more awkwardly, is the East with characters the artist felt were representative. The artist was trying to show Sweden as the bridge from west to east, and as peacemaker. Instead, the Queen of the Lake looks like the Queen of the world. Not to mention, she has big hands, big feet, masculine shoulders and bug eyes. The whole wall was almost torn down due to intense public criticism.

I think it was Lincoln that said the middle ground is often the firmest. However, it takes a strong neutral to maintain it. What do you do when both sides say you are biased, ignorant of the situation, inexperienced and out of your league?

With the Queen of the Lake, the artist later gave a pretty persuasive accounting of his Queen. He defended himself arguing that such an important peacemaker needed big eyes to monitor the situation, strong feet to maintain her ground and broad shoulders to carry such burdens. May we all have those attributes as problem solvers.

P.S. I also learned that Sweden does not have any law against the "unauthorized practice of law." Thus, you can hire anyone to represent you in court, lawyer or not (although it seldom happens). You also have to practice for 5 years, and represent the public for 3 years after passing the bar to call yourself an "advocate."