Wholistic Contract Drafting
This is an area that does not require the law to change in order for us to do things differently. In most modern legal systems the parties are free to decide what to put in their contracts – this gives immense freedom to create trust based agreements that place relationship building and strengthening at its heart. Thinking of a contract as a set of intentions reflecting the values upon which our relationship with each other is based rather than a set of rules for punishing the other if things work out differently can lead to a very different document.
Contracts where the on-going health of relationships between the stakeholders is prioritised will require a different language – particularly if the way in which we work things out when things go wrong is peaceful and collaborative. Such contracts could commit to get together and work out issues using wholistic methods to restore harmony and balance for the whole if disagreement occurs rather than go through the adversarial court process.
The predominant language used in legal agreements and laws has its roots in the domination paradigm which emanated from the mechanistic worldview. This facilitates power-over and power-under structures where only one party gets their needs met, usually at the expense of the other (win/lose) . If we are to move into a power-with structure within the law we need vocabulary that reflects this intention – a language that recognises and seeks to meet the needs of all stakeholders with an awareness that if one loses, the whole loses ultimately as the balance is lost. Instead of arguing at the level of strategy without first addressing the underlying needs of all concerned, through focusing on the needs of all stakeholders we can collaboratively devise more appropriate and robust strategies to meet them that work for everyone.
A lot of work has already been done in the use and interpretation of language to migrate from a power-over reality to a power-with reality – particularly the work of Marshall Rosenberg in Non-Violent Communication/ Compassionate Communication. We believe that conscious shifts in the use of language that creates unity rather than division in agreements and in lawyer/client relationships can go a long way to creating a new paradigm from the ground up. Wholisitic contracts would also by their very nature that take into account the impact of what is being agreed on the whole Earth community and future generations of all beings, including humanity.