Facing Conflict

Facing Conflict

We see a world set in conflict. Nations are in conflict, Individuals are often be in conflict. As I write, much of the world and Iran are in conflict. Attempts to solve this conflict appear not to be working. Today, July 1st, 2012 punitive sanctions against Iran are to go into effect. I jotted down some thoughts today regarding dealing with conflict. What I thought of I am certain is not the be all and end all to conflict resolution, nor do I believe any one person can have all the answers to solve conflicts of all kinds every time, but here is what came to me today:

1.) Quickly and nonviolently face the problem.

In most circumstances, do not wait and let the conflict come to a boiling point where violence tends to occur.
2.) Begin by respecting your adversary’s systems.

We all grow up and are part of systems. Our family is a system, our nation is a system, our culture is a system, our religion is a system, our race is a system, our gender is a system, our politics are systems. Ours is not the only system, nor the best system for everyone else in the world. Respect another’s systems and attempt to move beyond systems. Systems themselves sometimes create conflict.

3.) Listen to your adversary.

Active listening, without interrupting, and when given the opportunity repeating your adversary’s points, is crucial to coming to understanding. Take a notepad so you can write what is said down as your adversary speaks. Attempt to solve the difficulty one to one if possible. If that does not work, then bring in an unbiased person to help.

4.) Share love and concern with those who disagree.
Attempt to love your adversary. It may not be easy. Seek to help, not harm. Offer water, coffee, tea, or a culturally sensitive appropriate drink as discussions occur. Studies of near death experiences from all kinds of people, both faith based, and not faith based have shown the commonality of those who have survived near death experiences of their traveling through a tunnel toward bright lights, of their envisioning meeting those that have already died, and returning to their bodies with common concern, love for others and lack of fear of death.  It is quite possible you will meet your adversary in eternity… Keep this in mind.  Do not kill your adversary….

5.) Confront the core problem.

Do not allow minor points to confuse the core difficulty needing attention.

6.) Speak softly.

As much as possible, not raise your voice in anger.

7.) Control your body language.
Bristling up like a cat with its hair standing on end is not conducive to solving problems… Hands open, palm up, an occasional smile, and concerned eye contact are conducive to peaceful resolution.

8.)Believe in Prayer.

Many of various Faith based systems believe in prayer. If you do, pray silently during discussions.
At some times it may be appropriate to offer to pray with your adversary, even if they are of another faith system.

9.) Confess your own failings.

No one is perfect. It is important to realize our own faults and weaknesses. We have all been affected by systems outside of ourselves and forces that work in ourselves promoting hatred, bias, and conflict. Admit it. Ask for forgiveness from your adversary for one’s own failings.

10.) Forgive.

Even if you do not receive forgiveness based upon your own confession, go ahead and issue a statement of forgiveness to the adversary. However, the adversary needs to know that his or her hurtful practices cannot continue just because you have forgiven them.

Normally one ends writings with some kind of conclusion…. In this case let’s not do that. Facing conflict is a work in progress that seems to bring about temporary conclusions… Let’s leave this a work in progress… Please add your own thoughts and give your own input into this continuing field of study.

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

About jcooperforpeace
Spiritual Director, Spirituality of Inner Peace

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