Where Conflict Goes, Episode 175

When we’re faced with difference or conflict it’s often easiest to turn away, to give up on ourselves and our own values, or to try to force others to agree with us. But what if we were to learn to trust the creative possibilities that arise precisely because we are different to one another? What if we found a way to enter together into the promise that our encounter with the difference of others – and the difference that lives inside us – can be a path that opens us to something we long for, something we need? This episode of Turning Towards Life is a conversation about taking steps on the path to being opened and affected by one another, hosted as always by Lizzie Winn and Justin Wise of Thirdspace.

This is Turning Towards Life, a weekly live 30 minute conversation hosted by Thirdspace in which Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn dive deep into big questions of human living. Find us on FaceBook to watch live and join in the lively conversation on this episode. We’re also on YouTube, and as a podcast on Apple, Google and Spotify. You can find videos of every episode, and more about the project on the Turning Towards Life website.

Our source this week is written by Justin, from his blog at www.justinwise.co.uk

Where Conflict Goes

Whenever we bring our commitments, longing, plans and requests to others there’s the possibility of some kind of conflict. We could avoid this only if world were made up of billions of clones, designed to sweetly anticipate and accommodate our every need and wish. But because people are different from us in uncountable ways, we’re always called on to listen, to make ourselves vulnerable, to hear what we’re not expecting to hear and to feel what we’re not expecting to feel, if we’re going to navigate our difference with dignity and for the good of everyone.

Too often, perhaps because it feels safer, we try to find our way around conflict without doing any of this. We imagine we can force our way through (wishing for those clones, again) and in this way spare ourselves from encountering any real resistance, and from having to be changed by the encounter. Or we accommodate, keeping our own wishes, desires and requests quiet, silently and resentfully bending ourselves to fit in. Both of these positions diminish everyone involved. Both appear to keep us safe by keeping us out of contact with one another. And both, I know, are approaches I’ve fallen into countless times.

I’m reminded, though, that avoiding the heat of difference between us doesn’t make the conflict go away. It only changes its form – into silence, or resentment, or insincerity; or shifts its location – from the public realm to our inner lives, where our avoidance of outer conflict leaves us in ongoing conflict with ourselves.

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash