I’m Conflicted…..

I was just driving to pick up my grandsons for their bon voyage before moving to London on Monday next. I am getting in practice speaking the King’s English. As I listened to the initial progress of the cease fire I heard first from Hamas and then from an Israeli as to what they thought of each other. Oy vey! Hamas said the Jews chopped up Christians to make matzoh ball soup. The Israeli mentioned the word terrorist three times in one sentence and he wasn’t referring to his mother in law. This can’t turn out well.

Without trying to solve the quagmire at hand I did try to take it up to 30,000 feet and just look at the whole concept of conflict. Obviously there has to be two parties at work with differing viewpoints on how the world or a company or a family should be run. Each side believes very strongly in his or her point of view. This could be a simple rivalry, unintended collision, tug of war or downright strife….as in very bitter.

Now anger is the result of the very bitter and is a truly visceral reaction. In a full blown cook off as your fight or flight kicks in big time. You are pissed and this change can be noted by the veins popping out of your forehead, something that resembles a gag reflex and then you are forced to put your tongue in motion far ahead of any rational thought. I have always felt it is better both physically and psychologically not to leave anything in the bag. I shake, methodically point a finger at nothing in particular and then can’t believe that everyone does not see my point. In a biblical sense I think this is weeping and gnashing of teeth. A little while later Kathy comes out of her bomb shelter when the all clear is sounded.

What triggers all this? The first ingredient is a lack of knowledge or understanding of why we disagree. I have this all figured out and why confuse the issue with facts? I also know exactly what you are thinking so why discuss anything? To this we add equal amounts of threats to my manhood. You have put me down and no one does that. You have made me look like a fool in front of my wife, kids and the guy across the street.

My self esteem is at stake. I have been hurt by whatever you said and there is no taking it back. Think this is silly? Think again. We move further and further down the road and then there is no turning back. Let’s really amp it up. Maybe add in gender? Culture or race? Education? Economic wherewithal? Or the grand poobah of all…..RELIGION! I am still at a loss as to why we are all so virulent in espousing our faith. Anointed ones, chosen ones, and the only way to salvation doesn’t leave a lot of room to maneuver. It’s my way or the highway and if I am right you are going to hell. Nice thought.

We in America are convinced we are not only the sole world power but that our way is right. Call it a religion of sorts. We are the policeman, role model and final arbiter when it comes to world problems. Since ’91 Putin has had this very large inferiority complex. Since 9/11 every cult or terrorist organization thinks they can take us on. I can imagine Germany, China, France and every small nation state deep down harbor some really bad juju towards us.

What to do? Probably in the rear view mirror it would help to keep things simple. This can be in the world, office or domestic politics. If you have a minor problem work at it. Don’t let it fester. It only follows that the more complex an issue becomes the harder it is to rectify. Avoidance in the hope it will go away does not work. The key is letting all feel they have a place at the table. Their beliefs and ideas have validity in their eyes and should be considered. This goes under another name…diplomacy.

Tom Friedman wrote a wonderful column before we went into Iraq. By then it was a foregone conclusion and he said we should show some respect for the people of Iraq. He said they were proud and wanted to be considered. As we roared toward Baghdad I think no one had gotten their copy of the New York Times. We took down Sadaam’s statue but not before raising the Stars and Stripes. It became about us.

I am not as dumb as I look. Conflict is a part of life. It’s when it dissolves into tantrums and intransigence that I have to take pause. Tell me when we shut down our government or we tear each other apart in divorce and dissension that we are not like a launcher of rockets or a leveler of apartment buildings and schools. Damn it somewhere in between lies a way to go forward. Count your victories as Phyrric if you will but I would much rather win the war.

Immigration. Global Warming. Social Security. Medicare. Obamacare. I can’t just stand there on my heretofore positions. I have to see if there is a way to not only compromise but now I really get scary when I say collaborate. You might take great joy in bringing things to a halt.Go ahead. Stand on principle. You too may say it is your way or the highway. I can’t. I have to listen to both sides with the same zeal you maintain your positions. I have to find a way to make this work rather riding on my high horse. It beats the alternative.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:
“Conflict” is a Parker Brothers board game. It is also a series of war games for X Box. How about a computer game called “Conflict,”A Middle East Simulator?” Not yet? You need to download “Conflict,” a song performed by Disturbed on their album, “Sickness” What a country!
There are thousands of titles on winning. Not too many on losing. As Leo Durocher said,” Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser.”

The three largest elements of conflict in a marriage ergo divorce are sex,money and in laws. Not necessarily in that order.I say it is because two people who liked each other stopped talking and their egos prevented any further development. Can be applied globally.

Webster defines conflict as a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one. The antonyms are peace, harmony and calm. Unfortunately the latter are not what I would call visceral feelings. Too bad.

2 thoughts on “I’m Conflicted…..

    • Ted,
      Your post when read, echos your voice and delivery. You remain true to form!
      A core issue to conflict whether inter-personal or with regard to the events in the Middle East, is that humans tend toward the zero-sum game. For whatever reason, whether it be human nature or the nature of the vast majority of cultures (ours included), the first response is to the win/lose mentality. It takes a tremendous amount of creativity and empathy to come up with a win-win scenario.
      How can this change ever be effected in a single society, let alone the world??? It starts with individuals. If we all challenge ourselves to come up with win-win scenarios; and start from the ground up (think of petty conflict at home or queuing up in a civilized manner at Starbucks) we can start setting an example for the next generation. After that, there’s only about 6 billion to go. Maybe in another million years humans will have it all figured out.
      In the spirit of John Lennon, “Peace out”

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