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The Tipping Point

May 26, 2013

I love this phrase: “The Tipping Point.”  I think of a child’s see-saw or a weight scale in a doctor’s office and when either reaches just the right moment to tip in the other direction.

In mediation, there is a magical shift sometimes in the dynamics of the negotiation that could be described as the tipping point, where intransigence gives way to compromise and compromise gives way to a new agreement among disputing parties.

In my mediation practice, I look for tipping points.

According to Wikipedia, the phrase is from the name and subject of a book by Malcolm Gladwell, called The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.  See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tipping_Point

In it Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.”  Id.

I have been endlessly fascinated by the decision of the Boy Scouts of America this past week to end the ban on openly gay youth members while maintaining the ban on openly gay adult volunteers.

I wrote about it the other day in a piece entitled “Compromise is Difficult.”  See, https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/compromise-is-difficult/

I continue to read opinion pieces about the decision online, some for some against.

In some, the decision is seen as spineless, irrational, and doomed to failure.  See, e.g., http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2013/05/boy_scouts_keep_ban_on_gay_adult_leaders_the_bsa_s_new_policy_will_fail.html

In one other, a vituperative attack from the right, the decision is seen as a cave-in to the left or an abandonment of the BSA’s “timeless values.”  See, http://beforeitsnews.com/opinion-conservative/2013/05/boy-scouts-of-america-caves-accepts-open-and-avowed-perverts-2649974.html

From the latter article, however, I think I may have found the tipping point in this debate.

More specifically, I am beginning to think that the decision to end the ban on openly gay youth members may very well be the tipping point for further progress, even if it is not major progress in itself.

Here’s a quote from the beforeitsnews.com piece [please look past the bitter abusive language]:

“Giving in to them is the last thing that will prevent militant homosexuals from pushing their agenda even further. The BSA has already abandoned its principles. The next step backward toward the edge of the cliff – allowing openly homosexual adult scout leaders – is only months away.”  Id.

But look, carefully.

Here is the tipping point, perhaps where, as in mediation, intransigence gives way to compromise and compromise gives way to a new agreement among disputing sides:

“The next step…- allowing openly homosexual adult scout leaders – is only months away.”  [Emphasis added.]

I hope so.

***

David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California.  For more information about him and his practice, see http://karpmediation.com .

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