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The true neutral “visits” both camps but “resides” in neither.

“I am the fence!” So replied the girl when her exasperated classmates protested that she was always “sitting on the fence” in schoolyard disputes between opposing groups. Her mother was white and her father African-American.

Neutral impartiality requires a sort of mental “muscle” to maintain the posture of equipoise vis a vis all parties to a conflict.

Discipline is a prerequisite to the necessary constant attitude of taut resistance to partiality, which resistance is developed rather than naturally bestowed. In this sense, the neutral is a sort of athlete.

Optimally, in the civil dispute arena, neutral “muscle” is developed by years of service in both the opposing camps of the dispute, that is, defense and plaintiff sides. Such equivalent service on each side instills the balance essential to underpin a fair perspective. Thus, the true neutral “visits” both camps but “resides” in neither. Thus, also, the phenomenon of the “born neutral” who arises out of a mixed cultural heritage and becomes accustomed to the un-tied state of not “belonging to,” but, rather, “negotiating between.”

Bottom line: The civil dispute neutral affords equality of process to all participants and promotes a reasoned and just result. As in visual rhetoric, the peace pipe is passed to all and Lady Justice, who holds the scales and the sword, is blindfolded.


[1] “…[R]eal neutrality/impartiality/objectivity has muscle. .  It is an act and attitude of courage, outwardly guided by law and the values of ‘the Organization’- whichever organization it may be- and ultimately guided by conscience.”  Roger Lipsey, “Interpreting Hammarskjold’s Political Wisdom,”

Lipsey wrote the foregoing in reference to Dag Hammarskjold and the United Nations.