'Beyond Enmity: Finding Hope in a Time of High Conflict'
We are living in a moment of high conflict and toxic polarization, with tensions exploding over immigration, the global economy, fundamentalist religion and politics, Covid, racial injustice, and other issues. While conflict is an inevitable part of social life, hatred and enmity are not. In this presentation, Dr. Nepstad describes the factors that can cause conflicts to become toxic and destructive. She also discusses how we can find hope in such conditions. Through a comparative analysis of notable peacebuilders – including Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, Desmond Tutu and others – she highlights the beliefs and practices that have enabled these individuals to respond to conflict in a way that was transformative and humanizing. Reflecting on these peacebuilders’ views of truth, religion and ideology, and the nature of good and evil, Nepstad shows how this enabled them to break the cycle of historical hatred and chart a different path that moves beyond enmity.
Sharon Erickson Nepstad is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico, USA. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religion and at Notre Dame University’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. She is the author and co-author of six books and dozens of articles that focus on social movements, nonviolence and civil resistance, peace studies, and the sociology of religion. She is the 2021 recipient of the Robin M. Williams Jr. Distinguished Career Award from the American Sociological Association’s section on Peace, War, and Social Conflict.