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so, what is it about conflict that sparks in me aggression, cowardice, and nausea [among other things, and in no particular order]?

we live in a world filled with people who are... well... people who are not us. people who are completely different than us. people who are extraordinarily similar to us. on a good day, you discover people who are just the perfect mix of different and similar; and these are the people you call friends. you have enough in common to find a certain camaraderie; and you are enough at odds to draw out more of the other that might not otherwise have been found.

and these people who are not us, both the strangers on the street and the people we are friends with... we sometimes forget one part of the equation or the other. a perfect stranger can sense agitation; on the other hand, even a close friend cannot read your mind. these people are not you. clearly, i realize this isn't exactly an existential dilemma. but sometimes i need to be reminded of the obvious.

conflict is a prime not-so-fun way to be reminded of this. what? you mean we disagree? no, no. come, now! this must be a simple misunderstanding. sometimes, it is. and then, sometimes, you find you're understanding each other with perfect clarity. what then?

if you're anything like me, you start by defending your position. you explain, you inform, you persuade. this proves fruitless, and you move on to introspection. you process, you analyze, you avoid. this proves torturous, and you move on to wondering yourself sick. this proves ridiculous, and... you simply move on.

you accept the differences of opinion, and you embrace the intricacies and the unexpectedness and the joy that come with relationship with others who are not us.
Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 10:27PM by Registered Commentermdog | Comments3 Comments

Reader Comments (3)

I agree.
Jan 23, 2005 at 09:43AM | Unregistered Commenterrachel
"if you are anything like me..."

Yep...aren't we all? My tendency is to want to win rather than to want to be right. If I just wanted truth...that would be one thing. But when I feel I have to win in a conflict...that is when it gets messy. I wish I could spend a much energy trying to understand rather than making sure I'm understoood.
Jan 23, 2005 at 08:26PM | Unregistered Commenterpaul
Well put Paul, i don't think I spend enough time trying to understand either. When there is conflict I want to fight or flight. Either I'm outm or I'm in it to win. Luckily I have friends that have challenged me in this. I guess now I just want to understand.
Jan 23, 2005 at 10:18PM | Unregistered Commenterayn

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