In a world riddled with conflicts it appears to me as if everybody is right in some respects whilst directly opposing beliefs, ideas or statements also seem to contain truth. Either side of the fence seems to have a valid point. I can follow both sides of the argument and yet it seems as if the world can only carry on when choosing one side of a conflict. Sometimes the choosing is done for us, by the people who say they represent us. This choice is broadcast all over, covered in the carefully chosen arguments that support the choice made and ridicules or completely ignores all other arguments and points of view. Or the choice is made by the people, which actually means ‘the majority’ of the people, or not quite the majority of the population but the majority of the people who actually express their choice in the way the representatives have organized the consultation of the people. The majority of the ‘expressed’ votes determines the people’s choice, presented as ‘everybody thinks this’. At the end of the choice making process whoever disagrees has to shut up. Conflict resolved. Let’s not say any more about it. Accept the way somebody else has dealt with the conflict and resolved it. It surely is the best, either because a few people who say they represent all of us think it is the best or because a few people within the population think it is the best solution. But, the best for whom? Choosing one side of an existing conflict surely means that the other side does not feel it is the best solution. So this system doesn’t seem to be able to provide a satisfactory outcome to any conflict. A number of people will be left unheard, unnoticed, unworthy and not respected in their feelings and thoughts. Yet, it is the system we are using in society and it is the system we use personally. To us, a conflict with another person comes to a satisfactory solution when we ourselves are satisfied, irrespective of what that solution means to the other side.
Let’s unravel this system of conflict resolution. Let’s begin right at the beginning and build it up whilst considering the consequences of each step, of each decision made on the way.
Person A has a conflict with person B. The purpose of conflict resolution is to remove the conflict. Only when the conflict no longer exists has the conflict been resolved properly. Finding compromises ensures that the foundation of the conflict remains in place and that the existing differences between the two parties will carry on rumbling and show up at some later date, in some other form. This already leads to the conclusion that society does not want to resolve any conflict between different groups of people. Society is keen to look for compromises between the fighting parties, which doesn’t actually solve the problem. But this may have something to do with the general principle of divide and conquer.
Back to our conflict. There are only two ways of resolving the conflict and both ways, both methods, are based on the concept that when person A and person B are together a conflict arises. When they don’t meet up, are not confronted with each other, no conflict ensues. Conflict can be defined as a competitive or opposing action of incompatibles: antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons). ‘Incompatible’ means that they don’t go together. The antagonistic states remain, so compromising basically means that neither will get what they are after, what they really want or need. Now you have ensured that both parties remain unsatisfied, remain unhappy forever. The only true resolution to a conflict is to ensure that incompatibles don’t clash with each other. In other words, don’t allow them to be together and then there won’t, ever, be a conflict.
Hence, person A and person B should be removed from another. There are two ways to achieve that. If one shoots the other then the conflict is resolved. Or if they part ways, their conflict is resolved. These are the real choices when one truly wants to resolve a conflict.
If one chooses to shoot the person who stands in your way and if that is your preferred method of choice for conflict resolution you will soon find yourself in a position where one person after another needs to be shot. This may appear to be a satisfactory method to you for as long as you are the one doing the shooting. However, the day will come that you are the one who gets shot. If this conflict resolution method is the one you choose then it is logical to assume that there will be others who opt for the same method to resolve the conflicts they are faced with. We could call this the ‘an eye for an eye’ concept. Revenge will be a sentiment that glitters high on the behaviour list of these people. Extending the logic towards the ultimate outcome we can see that this method can only lead to a permanent peaceful existence once everybody else has been eliminated. All your conflicts will only be resolved when you are the only one standing, either as an individual or as a group.
Parting ways is the only alternative. When one person decides to go away and to leave the conflict zone then the conflict no longer exists. The antagonistic state no longer exists as the two opposing forces no longer face each other. So literally walking away from a conflict resolves the conflict. It will only have a lasting effect if you don’t internalize the conflict and take it with you. In other words, it is essential that you do not carry any hatred or resentment towards the other person for ‘chasing’ you away. You made the decision. You made that choice. By leaving the other person in peace you have the opportunity to create peace within your own life too.
However, life is all about ‘opposing forces’. That is the existential force of evolution, the fact that opposing forces meet and interact. So it is, in essence, all about conflicts and power struggles. This means that walking away from one conflict does not provide you with eternal peace. There is another conflict waiting for you just around the corner. Then the question arises: how many times can you walk away and is there a space left for you at the end where no conflict will ever arise? Of course not. Furthermore, it isn’t possible to always simply pack up and leave. So walking away is not a very effective method to resolve conflicts. It is efficient in that it resolves the immediate conflict but it isn’t a very practical way in the long run.
If you literally have to keep walking away from a conflict you will be constantly on the move. You may imagine ending up on your own in the Canadian forests or in a remote cabin in Alaska. Now you can live in peace. Now you can do what you want to do. You would think so, wouldn’t you? Wrong. You would have to take notice of your surroundings, which in this case is nature. Your life will be determined and ‘interfered with’ by the climate, by animals and plants you are surrounded with. You have to adjust your life to those circumstances too, which actually means that you can never really be away from all conflicts. Once you realize that potentially you will always be confronted with a conflict, that you can’t run away from it, then surely your attention should be focused on how you respond to that conflict.
A conflict is about an antagonistic state of ideas and interests. When these come in close proximity of one another they clash. This is what is called a conflict. Walking away from a conflict is about one person, representing one set of ideas, removing himself from another person with opposing ideas. But instead of building walls around both parties to keep people with opposing ideas apart, one could argue that the conflict is in reality a clash of ideas and interests. It is different views of the world, of life, that underlie the actions people take. Hence, keeping those people apart doesn’t necessarily involve physically removing one person from the scene.
Ideas and interests expressed in words create a verbal conflict. The two persons argue. They throw arguments for and against at each other. They bark at each other. They shout at each other. They row with each other. Once they begin to put words into actions the conflict manifests itself in the way they have chosen to live their lives. Now the practicalities of their lives clash which means that they cannot live together as they actually are in each other’s way. They actually hinder the development of each other’s lives. One cannot allow the opposing ideas to disturb the way one is trying to build a life. The conflict resolution requires a separation of those two lives, whereby there is no interference between them. They are unable to develop their ‘opposing’ lives together. They should not occupy the same space. Hence, the resolution method of walking away.
However, let’s take it one step back. Before their actions clash their ideas clash. So in fact it is their ideas and interests that do not match, that oppose one another. It is their ideas that actually require space to develop. In order to achieve this, most people resort to implementing what they need, thereby opposing the other, making life for the other impossible. What makes them oppose the actions of the other person is their fear that the person will occupy so much space that they themselves become hemmed in, unable to manifest their own requirements, with the consequence that they cannot really carry on living. Hence, while it is in fact a conflict of ideas the battlefield on which this conflict is being played out are the actions these persons take.
If, however, they were to recognize that the conflict is in fact situated at the level of the mind, simply involving ideas about life and personal requirements that are opposite to one another, they might want to seek a conflict resolution on the mind level rather than on the level of the physical reality. And what would that look like then?
There is a conflict. Two opposing ideas that cannot be together means that they need to be separated. If you don’t want to or are unable to physically separate those lives then you must separate the ideas. This means that they should not interfere with or comment on the other person’s life. They should leave each other alone, allowing each other to develop in the way they need to, according to their own beliefs. For this, one needs to set one’s own mind to a specific ‘to allow’ setting. If the two persons approach the conflict, not with fear of being short-changed but believing that there is room for both of them, they will soon find that, by allowing the other to develop whatever it is that person requires, it still leaves plenty to develop one’s own ideas. If person A is prepared to withdraw his mind from the conflict and focus on living together in peace he in fact removes ‘himself’, or at the essence he removes that part of him that is in conflict with person B, from the conflict zone. This is a conflict resolution, which doesn’t involve anybody moving away from the living space. All it involves is allowing the other person enough space to do their own thing, leaving you with the space you require to do your own thing. Is it worthwhile applying this conflict resolution method unilaterally?
When you allow the other the space he needs in order to develop his ideas then surely he will not only occupy that space but he will claim much more, and will continue to claim more and more space. Indeed that is a possibility. But that specific thought is born out of your fear to be short-changed. Your fear of lack, of being short of something, of something you may require. Your fear creates aggression towards someone else who is only trying to do the same as you are, and that is to live a life according to his beliefs. Your fearful mind cannot allow you to consider that maybe he would no longer be aggressive or in conflict once he senses that you will allow him to express life in the way he chooses to. Not being fearful brings peace to your mind and to your life, whatever the circumstances. And it is your choice to either be anxious or be at peace, trusting that it can work out for everyone.
Living in peace, living harmoniously, in close proximity with others who do not share all your ideas and interests, can only happen when you do not have fear, when you do not feel threatened by the presence of antagonistic ideas. It turns out that the actions based on those ideas do not need to be as antagonistic as first feared. There are multiple ways of putting ideas into actions and ways can be found to ensure that those actions do not encroach on the freedom of ideas of others.
But as it may have occurred to you, we are surrounded by lots of people, not just one or two, and, if the truth may be known, we are surrounded by thousands of ideas that differ from our own, that are in conflict with our own. How can we then ‘provide space’ for all those ideas and for all those people? In reality there is no need for it.
Consider your own life and your own ideas. Can you remember what you as a late teenager thought the world should look like, what you thought was the truth, what you wanted to do in your life, where you wanted to live your life, and many more of ideas you had back then? When you look back on all those wonderful and exciting ideas you had, in reality very few have taken up any space in your life at all. Life takes a different turn and it is not because we very much would like it to be a certain way and it is not because we do all we can to make it happen that it happens. No, most of the time not much happens at all.
This would mean that, if we were not afraid of what the ideas of others might lead to and if we were simply to stick with what actually happens, we don’t need to act at all in order ‘to protect’ our own ideas. Wait and see, and deal with the reality and not with your perception and projection of the worst possible scenario of someone else’s ideas. All major religions preach love and understanding, and they are all afraid of one another because of what they perceive another belief system may do to them. So while the teaching is all about spreading love and equality to all people, their churches spread hate and fear in an effort to retain the power over their flock. The result of this can be seen all around us, and it certainly is not a conflict resolution method that brings happiness and peace to all. It creates a permanent war zone.
If you don’t spread fear and division around you people, even those with different ideas from your own, will not be afraid of you. If you then believe that they will perceive you as weak and therefore an easy prey, you are spreading fear into your own system. The message is don’t spread fear, not around you and not inside you.
Don’t be afraid of different ideas. We are told that they clash and that they don’t go together, which leads us to the conclusion it should be one or the other. In reality, ideas do not clash. People that use ideas as weapons clash. Using ideas, and the perceived effects of them, in order to gain an advantage of some sort is what puts fear into people’s hearts. On their own ideas are non-material, only energetic forces. Energy can take on almost any form, can be moulded into lots of different forms. So when we are able to meet people with antagonistic ideas on their path to the realisation of their ideas, we become part of the moulding process. Cooperation rather than opposition and confrontation is the key to conflict resolution.
Cooperation we see as ‘working together’. However, the most important part of cooperation is listening, not doing. We can only cooperate with another person if we understand what he wants to achieve. It is not about telling others what is good for them. By listening well and taking to heart what another tells you about his ideas forms the foundation of your cooperation. Simply put, you sit still and shut up.
Moulding life, the mental as well as the physical aspects, in cooperation with others not only enriches our lives but it makes the best use of the available space. In nature, animals that ‘hate’ each other do not live in separate enclosures. They occupy the same space and they let each other be.
If you don’t like other people sticking their noses into your life and the way you like it to be, then know that others won’t like it when you meddle in their lives. Allow others to believe what they want to. Allow others to have the freedoms that you grant yourself.
If you know that the fear you feel you have created yourself then surely not feeling that fear all the time would allow you to get on with your own life. Either you carry on blaming another person for your fear, in which case you will never be fear-free, or you take responsibility yourself for your own feelings. Not blaming others will feel much more comfortable and less threatening to them, which gives you more chance of finding lasting peace in your life.
The only conflict resolution method with a future of longevity and prosperity ahead of it is one whereby you retreat from evaluating and judging someone else’s life choices. Look at your own life and the choices you are making and stop interfering, stop judging, others for the choices they make. Together with no longer wanting to tell another what he is doing wrong and why, you also make the choice that you are not going to be afraid of life anymore. You decide to deal with the reality, not with what ‘might’ happen, and only the reality of your own life. You decide to believe that there is room for everyone, regardless of how they want to occupy that space, regardless of what they propose to do with that space.
No conflict in a diverse world means that opposites can peacefully live together, side by side. For this to be possible, individuals will have to make it possible. They will need to accept and allow diversity of beliefs and ideas. They will need to release fear, both about their outside environment as well as their inner balance. They will need to cooperate with the diversity that surrounds them, work together so they can all live happy and peaceful lives.
We do not need compromises.
We do not need power over others.
We do not need laws and rules written by others who don’t know our lives.
We simply need each other, and we need to be different for us to learn more and for society to develop.