Monday, February 26, 2007

Conflict

Making choices are internal conflicts. I'm speaking here about external conflicts. Are they a proof for the validity of post-modernism, i.e. that there are different ways of perceiving a situation?

Often conflicts seem to be power struggles. Someone is in a position of power over another and the other does not like how they are being treated. The "worker" feels that they are being pushed around. They feel that the "boss" (as in dean, teacher, supervisor) is abusing their power, and/or not listening to them. For example, the boss says "sit down" and the worker says "there is a scorpion on my chair." Each comes to the situation with a different perspective, and with different information. The worker wants to explain. The boss wants to get started with the class, the job, etc. Then the worker gets loud., "but there is a scorpion on my chair!" The boss is focused on his/her job, so he gets agitated and tells the worker to be quiet and sit down. He says "it is just a small scorpion, and what am I paying you for anyway?" Or maybe he will chastise the worker, asking if they have read the "rights and responsibilities of the worker" or maybe a union resolution. Neither party has much respect for each other, and neither is listening to the other's viewpoint.

Some say that the internal conflicts in Iraq are not about religion but about land. Everyone wants their fair share. Again, from a post-modern perspective, each is viewing the situation differently. They may spend more in resources (including lives) than they would to agree on a compromise. They illustrate the saying, "you'd rather be right than alive." And religion does play a role here. We tend to stick together with our own kind. When an outside aggressor shows his/her fangs, we identify even further with our own people. We grow up learning the difference between "us and them." And whenever "them" steps out of line, we take up arms. Many die, many are injured, and love is squelched.

I love the story about the blind man and the man without legs who lived in a forest. They argued continually until a fire started to sweep through the forest. Then they joined ranks and fled, taking advantage of the blind man's legs and the other man's eyes. For me, how we move from conflict to interdependence is the key. Perhaps as we align goals (like getting out of the forest, learning, making a profit) we can start to see that cooperation will only benefit both parties.

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