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Spiritual Life

Schools conflict: Elephant still there but no longer invisible

The hostility between the differing sides in the ongoing Bullis Charter School/Los Altos School District conflict is no longer the elephant in the room that everyone knows is there but ignores. The Town Crier has reported on a variety of energetic attempts to promote dialogue between decision-making bodies in recent months. There are informal groups of parents forming to discuss and defuse the level of acrimony.

At the Sept. 20 community mediation, we heard how the anonymity and immediacy of Internet social networks has allowed frustration, anger and insult to take on new dimensions. We heard of threats made, vandalism and parents trying to explain to concerned children “whose side they were on.”

There are indeed significant issues of conflict that need resolution in these matters. Pastors David Moore of Union Presbyterian Church, Malcolm Young of Christ Episcopal Church and I are as concerned about how we treat each other in times of conflict as we are about the actual issues that divide us, a concern we are certain our colleagues in other faith communities share.

Hoping that our meager efforts to offer community mediation have been helpful, we have contacted the Rev. Warren Dale, founder of the Peninsula Conflict Mediation Center in Redwood City, to offer another such event.

Dale is scheduled to lead a mediation listening event 7-9:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Creekside Center of Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Ave. The purpose of the event is not to resolve or debate the conflict, but, in an open dialogue of respect, to lower the level of hostility as attendees voice their concerns and hear one another.

Although organized by leaders in the Christian faith, this is not a religious event – all are welcome regardless of religious orientation. Child care is available on request (email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in advance to reserve child care).

The Rev. Mark S. Bollwinkel is senior pastor of Los Altos United Methodist Church. For more information, visit www.laumc.org.

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