I’ve been thinking a lot about peace and conflict lately. Probably, because I am doing my master’s IN peace and conflict and I am forced to read and read…and read about it all the time. But I’ve also been thinking about personal conflict lately- and the way that myself and others deal with conflict. I am starting to think that we’ve got this certain “way” here of dealing with conflict when it arises. I am not sure if it’s a Canadian way. a Western way…or what, but I am pretty sure it’s bad. I’ve also been noticing, that we have a climate of competition- I think this is directly linked to capitalism and our western way of thinking. Let me explain…
So, we are taught- indirectly and directly, that we must strive to be the best- even as a child, most activities kids do are highly competitive. I can say this, because I am highly competitive- it’s bad…sometimes I don’t have fun if I don’t win. A favourite family fable (that happens to be true) was when my Nana kicked my ass at snakes and ladders and I cried- and she refused to let me win. This wasn’t last week surprisingly, it was when I was about 5. Needless to say, competition is all around us – and we try to find our niche in order to become the smartest/most athletic/most popular/best looking/richest/holiest/most involved/most radical, etc. I think this ultra-competitive atmosphere that we are raised in really messes with us. Why? Because not everyone can be number one. AND – number two and beyond generally have beef with whoever ends up being number one. Not to mention that fact that everyone has a different perception of reality, and people have a tendency to be jealous.
I say all this about competition because I think it creates conflict- and if it doesn’t create conflict then it exacerbates it.
So, we have conflict in our lives. It’s inevitable, natural and can be harmless- when dealt with correctly. But this is the thing…I think we rarely deal with conflict properly. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, we don’t like feeling weak and admitting that we are intimidated/jealous/insecure etc. What are the chances that I am going to really like someone who I don’t think likes me? Secondly, I think us humans are pretty clueless when it comes to understanding each other. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt upset or wronged by someone who had NO idea they had done anything wrong- and I have definitely been on the other side of that too. Thirdly and finally, I think we live in a culture that allows and maybe perpetuates passive aggressive behavior. Passive aggressive behaviour is defined as this (screw you academia- I am using wikipedia!) But I digress…
I think all too often I act this way instead of dealing with the issue. But I don’t think it’s just me…or maybe it is and I am just delusional. I guess what I am really trying to say, is that life would be a lot better and our relationships would be a lot healthier if when conflict arose, whether it’s one sided or not, we actually address the problem- instead of being cold, distant, sarcastic, mean-spirited or any of those other passive-aggressive defense mechanisms that I (i should speak for myself here) usually use.
I feel like this is a negative behavior that has really come into the light for me lately and I feel like if I am serious about being the kind of person who I think I am meant to be, then this is something I am really going to need to curb. No matter what someone has done, I owe it to them to confront the issue, lovingly and with maturity.
I feel like I need to add a qualifier here- I am not sure why this has recently come to me. I don’t know exactly what prompted me to realize that I have acted this way in the past. It came to me lying in bed the other night…mind you that might have been the night I dreamt that this girl in my program was working for CityTV doing election results. I think I need to sleep more! Perhaps that is the moral here!
Regardless, many apologies for the rant…and for your time that you spent reading this! Please don’t get mad that I wasted your time and start to act all cold and funny around me 🙂