From political conflicts, to culture wars, celebrity twitter rows, to mask wearing divergent opinion, it seems conflict is the new dominant feature in our daily lives, now that the Covid tide is receding (we hope!). We are back to hearing about lots of ‘outrage’ to this and that, lots of accusations of fake news when a different opinion is expressed, offence being taken to everything and its mother, ghosting, gaslighting and the whole resurgence of ‘cancel culture’ on social media and in real life, with such ferocity that one could be forgiven for wishing for another Covid lockdown so everyone could just calm down a bit.
But life going ‘back to normal’ of course means physical interactions with other people and physical interactions with other people, when there are 7 billion people on the planet, means the likelihood of conflict.
Now I am not saying that there isn’t a justifiable issue behind some of the reactions listed above, but the question is, when conflict does happen, is anyone actually better off for denying/ignoring/avoiding/cancelling someone, or for being in receipt of same?
I have been denied/ignored/avoided/cancelled by some over the years, those who, for this reason or that, felt I was not worth enough to be treated in any other way, or who judged me as wrong in some way for something I had said, done, implied etc. I am not alone. I am sure most of you reading this can think of those who took the high road in your own lives, convinced they were right, and you were wrong in some way.
Now two things are worth pointing out here. Firstly, that is not the totality of the experience for either of us I am sure, in that I am sure like me, there are lots of friends in your life too who do think you are worth lots! And also, for the record I’m not saying that I, or indeed you, were always saints in life, or always unjustly accused of a wrong doing in some of these moments by some of these people. We have all been wrong about things at times in our past and all upset people at times as is perfectly natural given that we are human beings and that that is part of the ‘being a human being’ deal.
But how do humans so often fail to remember their own flawed humanity when they are calling out some other human being for being flawed?
And how do we forget that our human diversity also means that we will have passion and feelings for situations that at times will not match each other and that that is again, part of the deal?
Shouldn’t the fact that we know these things give rise to some humility and respect when it comes to dealing with someone who we feel has performed badly, or has simply committed the crime of having a different viewpoint?
Perhaps it is human pride, denial, our egos, or self-righteousness, or perhaps even our anger and resentments that are really behind our taking the high road of seeing ourselves as being better than another and therefore having to apply the cancelling, but those motivations themselves hardly make us the ‘better’ one in the scenario, do they?
What about the fact that in honesty, the ‘bad’ behaviour by another today, was most likely us to someone else, in a different way, on another day?
Perhaps the playing field is in fact more level than we are comfortable with and the high road is therefore a happy and easy escape route?
Whatever the background to our reactions, in truth it would seem if we can stay rooted in humility and honesty, we might be able to deal with conflicts more maturely when they arrive and maybe even heal the hurts they bring as a result!
Though the self-righteous high road may be the easier choice, I think the humility road, though less travelled, indeed proves to be a much more rewarding experience for us and those who we meet along the way.
I finish with a poem I wrote on all this, hopefully it helps those who have been made small, realise they were in all likelihood no smaller than their accuser.
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