So, class was not nearly as exciting to the students as it was to me. I'm thrilled by the opportunity to examine my beliefs on a piece of paper and then decide if those are the beliefs guiding my life. Though I am more practiced at this and have experienced the benefits of taking the time to do so. Yesterday, in doing the exercise of "What I believe about conflict" -- I realized that I can and often do (though not often enough) think of conflict as an opportunity to be more of who I am , live according to my values and wake from the slumber of easy living. Conflict can be uncomfortable, but sometimes that is just because we're going from being asleep to being awake. It's a similar transition. Everything is going along and then BAM! something wakes us from the slumber. We have to deal, address, engage. Without "conflict" we might just be able to slide by each other, smiling, nodding and saying "thank you" and "please."
But through conflict, we can find out and decide who we are and either move closer to others in our lives or push them away. We're making those decisions every day. When we let it slide or don't engage, we're hiding away. Or maybe we think that we're not because we're complaining to a friend- not the person with whom we feel the conflict.. Sometimes that choice is "choosing silence" to "preserve the status quo"-- that too might come at a cost. I do it. Less, I hope than before...but when I see and meet people who in the face of tyrannical regimes stay true to what they believe-- face ostracism, threats, and poverty for those goals, I am humbled.
The class, our class, actually helped me articulate my view that conflict is the natural result of both having a separate body and being in relation to others.
We're together, but we're not. We have our own thoughts- even if "group think" is a powerful force, our own cellular health-- and our own bank accounts. So we are separate, but we're together...now, i the US we're together on healthcare....we have united at another level. We are more linked with each other on health than ever before. This was the conflict-- are we separately responsible or are we one? Supreme Court thinks we are one. I don't want to become political on this issue, this post is simply to reflect upon our beliefs about conflict and how those beliefs guide how we handle disappointment, offense, outrage, betrayal, etc. If we believe conflict means pain, versus conflict is an opportunity to wake up and live a better life, then we will most likely avoid it -- almost at all costs.
I wonder, I'll have to get more practice teaching others..working with groups...I want others to have their own "ah-has"Then what solutions do not get discovered?
If we cannot address conflict, we cannot think of solutions...we just slither back to our respective corners and hope things will change. And they will, change is inevitable-- but that change will feel quite different if we have been the ones with the courage to instigate it. Most of what you see everyday is the decisions of others made real-- brands, tv shows, flight schedules, menu options, clothing options...etc. those are all the results of other people's choices and actions. They overcame struggles and made something happen. Every material thing we see is the result of someone facing and overcoming conflict. So, it's really hard to complain if we're still just sitting quietly on the benches. Conflict, someone mentioned in class, can be thought of as a sport...let's play.