In 2006, I joined a group of about 40 peace experts in a small remote village in Poland called Kazimierz, a historic haven for Jews in a predominantly Catholic region of the world. There Andrea Bartoli, an accomplished peacemaker and devout Catholic who works tirelessly around the world to reduce deadly conflict, made an hour-long presentation arguing that because highly contentious conflicts can become so constricting—in terms of what we are allowed to feel, imagine, aspire to, discuss, or make happen—they imprison us.

In his words, high conflict becomes a place where we come to exist “in the …

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