Barbara J. Nelson is the dean of the UCLA School of
Public Policy and Social Research. She and Linda Kaboolian co-direct the Finding Fairness Project,
an international effort to bridge social differences.
N ews of unrelenting violence in the Mideast may suggest that it's utopian to expect peaceful resolution of abiding ethnic and religious hatreds, but some less visible efforts at cross-ethnic cooperation are getting results. Consider Northern Ireland, watered by many rivers--the Lagan, Bann, Ballinamallard, and Cam--but none so powerful as the river of religious hatred. Regularly overflowing its banks, drowning Catholic and Protestant communities alike in violence, it has cost more than 3,600 lives in the last 30 years. The recent decision by the Irish Republican Army to decommission arms is an important step in flood control, but what's really needed are bridges connecting the two communities so they can take the further step of decommissioning hatred. Who can build those bridges? Listening to the Northern Irish, one gets the sense it is probably not the political leadership. People are skeptical of the shenanigans that surrounded decommissioning. Catholics feel that giving up arms...