Conflict is a part of the human condition, and most of us spend our time trying to avoid it. I’m here to humbly offer an alternative: embrace the conflict.
Having just celebrated my second year of marriage, I’m certifiably past the honeymoon phase. So when I forget to take out the recycling or fold the clothes out of the dryer, I can’t just smile and get a pass for being cute. These days I have to work much harder to be lazy.
Of course, there are some things I can’t just talk my way out of in relationships, no matter how much sales training, NLP, and other tricks I have up my sleeve. So when I make a stupid comment like, ‘Your idea is terrible’ to my partner, I get to spend the rest of the evening backing away from the abyss I almost walked right into.
Whether my comment is true doesn’t matter, I still will not get to veg out in front of a movie for the evening if I can’t find some alignment with my partner.
Historic Explorations of Conflict
As early as a few hundred years before Christ, philosophers were working through similar dinnertime conversations to shirk their domestic duties and leave the household chores for another day. If you can prove to your partner that motion is indeed impossible, why should they expect you to get off the couch?
In Zeno’s famous paradoxes, he proves just that. Since there’s plenty of material written to explain what his paradoxes are, I’ll leave your discoveries to other articles on the subject.
I would rather use this space to highlight a few important points about this particular piece of history: 1) Zeno was the student of Parmenides, and 2) he developed his paradoxes to defend his teacher’s then unpopular monisitic view of the world (i.e. “how all reality is one, change is impossible, and existence is timeless, uniform, and necessary.” I have also quoted Parmenides poem ‘On Nature’ here).
As you may be able to tell from the above, Parmenides was a metaphysician exploring the mysteries of how the universe works. He has been called the father of metaphysics, and his connection to the great mystery schools is evidenced in the overlap of both the orientation of his theory and explanation of reality as we experience it (not to mention our written record of initiates).
Of course, we know the form and content of his arguments had existed long before his lifetime having been preserved by the secret mystery schools from time immemorial.
Conflict Means Someone Cares
The point in bringing this up is simply to say that conflict is germane to our existence. The disconnect between our perceived reality and that of ultimate reality has been documented for thousands of years by the world’s wisdom traditions. You’re not going to be successful in creating a world without conflict. It’s the nature of being human.
What you CAN DO is change your relationship to conflict. I like to view conflict as an effort towards understanding. After all, have you ever had a conflict with someone you don’t care about? The only reason conflict exists is that something important to you is at stake.
So take it as a compliment next time you find yourself arguing about household chores, political views, or whether Black Panther is a good movie. If this person is spending time arguing, they may actually care about you, your perspective, and the topic at hand. Otherwise, why would they waste their time trying to change your mind?
Conflict is a move toward Unity
Conflict is simply a step on the way to Unity. And last I checked, we need more UNITY. What we need LESS OF is apathy. So start showing that you care and argue away (respectfully). You might discover new insights into the nature of the universe, AND be able to finish the next episode of whatever your binge watching on Netflix. I’ll have to catch up later after doing some clean up with my partner.