The Gift of Conflict

Conflict......that explosive concept that threatens to destroy marriages, end friendships, and sever the bonds we share with each other. There seems to be a growing gravitation towards seeking to disavow those with whom we disagree. To create distance and retreat to the safe confines of like-minded individuals while using the likes of social media and such to blindly lob verbal bombs of disdain into a crowded cyber world of opinions.
I must admit, I’m growing fearful of what appears to be a social tactic of avoidance when it comes to interacting with those with whom we fail to see eye to eye. Lately some of the more high profile examples have been with sports teams, or individual stars, deciding whether or not to accept invitations to the White House should they have the opportunity to receive one. And while that is only one example, there are countless others that take place on a regular basis where people are unfriended or unfollowed or un-whatever other ways we can “un” people, due to the inflammatory emotions they may provoke within us. And, in all honesty, who can blame anyone for not wanting to associate with someone who upsets them?
Yet while it might be human nature to avoid these interactions, the great danger that lies in the byproduct of such actions is that for change to take place, people who see the world one way will have to be convinced to consider seeing the world a different way. Somewhere, in some way, someone must be convinced to change their mind....and in some instances, we must consider the possibility that that someone might even be ourselves. 
But even if it isn’t us, if one feels powerfully about the need for transformation in society, then refusing opportunities to have an audience with those with whom we disagree doesn’t lead to, in fact, secures a reality in which change will never actually occur.
To use the example of the sports teams, it is extremely rare that members of a nation gain the opportunity to have a one-on-one interaction with their highest leaders. So when such opportunities present themselves, it seems to me that it would be extremely important for the people who disagree with political leaders take that opportunity to have a chance to talk to them in person. If the only people who ever meet with those in power are those who agree with the positions they hold, then we solidify the only opinions and perspectives they will hear. They are all voices from the same echo chamber. 
Likewise, when we come across people in our daily lives with whom we disagree, rather than batten down the hatches and fight, we may have to swallow our pride enough to listen to their case in order to have an opportunity to present ours.
In the war of ideals, the only way ground is gained is to seek opportunities for those interactions. For when we fail to do so, and we seek to avoid opposing thoughts, surrounding ourselves with those of like mind to affirm our believes and perspectives, we risk transforming the war of ideas into just war.......where we literally turn to violence to overpower those with whom we disagree. And that is a type of war that nobody wins.


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