I do not like conflict. I do not like fights. I do not like debates. I do not like people not getting along. This is why I wish I could go into hiding during election years. This is why I have not enjoyed the whole chicken sandwich ordeal. (But I did enjoy some of it. Like her thoughts to Christians on either side. And his thoughts about why people boycott or not. I just could not read through the hundreds of comments because they brought me back to I-do-not-like-conflict.)
I like harmony. I loved reading Psalm 133 today. Unity is as precious as costly anointing oil. I love peace. I love people getting along with one another.
These days I almost preferred getting Farmville and Lucky Slots requests over most of what was posted on Facebook. (By the way, I never do them. I will never respond to any of those application requests so you can stop sending them to me! Or else we might have to have….conflict! No, wait, I’ll still just ignore because remember, I hate conflict.)
I married a lawyer. My beloved husband loves to debate. He will happily engage with you for hours on issues and probably prefers that you disagree with him so it will be more interesting. Not me. I would rather we all hold hands and sing, “Kum ba yah.” Or if you prefer, Depeche Mode’s “People are people.” Maybe some Beatles? “All you need is love.” Lots of good choices out there.
But who am I kidding? Conflict is inevitable. Even among the most similar of people, there will most likely be areas of disagreement. If I truly hated conflict, I’d have to be a hermit on a deserted island. Even then, I’d probably still fight myself on some days though. It’s human. And despite the fact that I’d like to avoid it, I can’t. And despite the fact that it seems ugly and I do not like it, I know that it can actually be just what I need. It can actually be beautiful.
When Mike and I fight (I mean really fight, not politely but meanly, not with tender reasoning but flagrant f-bomb’s), the stress and tension are unbearable. I am reminded why I hate it. We are not supposed to be like this. But by some miracle, by the utter grace of God (!), there comes a breaking point. It is after we’ve presented our perspectives, after we’ve justified our actions, after we’ve argued our points, after we’ve accused the other, after we’ve stood our ground so firmly that we’ve realized we are getting absolutely nowhere, that then the blessed point comes. It can only come when we humble ourselves. It comes after we stop discounting the other’s feelings. It comes when we listen and attempt to understand. It comes when we sometimes feel at a loss except to come before the cross and kneel together. It comes when we see each other as lifelong partners and allies, not enemies.
And then the aftermath….it can be glorious. We find we have communicated things that truly needed to be communicated. We find that we really meant what we said when we vowed to love each other through thick and thin. We find that we have greater understanding and we are careful to heed the new information we have just learned to better love and serve in the future. We see the beauty of reconciliation, the joining of differences, and the deepening of relationship.
So though I hate conflict, I love reconciliation. I cannot have one without the other. The same goes for diversity. I LOVE DIVERSITY! But with that comes more conflict! The more diverse the group, the more likely there are to be misunderstandings, differing viewpoints, and experiences that have shaped those perspectives. I actually love that whatever the hot topic is on Facebook, I will see a wide range of impassioned views on it. That’s the beauty of diversity. As much as we’d sometimes like to punch them in the face, we need those who disagree with us to keep our minds broadened. It is definitely easier and more natural to want to stick with those who agree and cheer us on in our thoughts. But it limits us.
It seems that the more diverse people we have real relationships with (not the token, I have a _____ person I know at work/on Facebook/in a former life), the less likely we are to discount things we might have before we knew them. Really knew them. Engaged in life conversations with them. Loved them dearly. If this were the case, we could feel less like one another’s enemies and perhaps realize our common humanity more. The differences will be just differences that we can respect and even appreciate not grounds for debasement or loathing.
I’m Korean American. If anyone has had Korean food, they have most likely had marinated beef of some kind. It’s damn delicious. We have been fortunate to have become friends with a wonderful couple who are vegan. They do not eat any animal products not just for health or to be trendy but because of a deep conviction regarding the treatment of animals. It may seem sacrilegious to a bulgogi-galbi loving KA to say, but I love their lifestyle and the reasons behind it. I respect that about them and appreciate the care they have in going out of their way to selflessly honor these convictions. It’s not easy. But it’s worth it. They do not condemn us for not being vegan. They do not shove it down our throats that we should be like them. They just live it out. They educate us. And it makes us think. It makes us venture to Native Foods Cafe more. It makes us aware. It makes us better to know them.
I guess it’s not that I do not like conflict. I think it is more accurate to say that I do not like the way conflict is usually carried out. And I am not saying people should not be passionate. They should. Better to feel strongly about something than not feel at all. It is often the case that positive changes come from those who are passionate and zealous. If everyone was like me, perhaps no new ideas would be exchanged. Maybe there would be no purposeful and meaningful dialogue because we’d all be singing “Kum ba yah” too much. So please, be yourselves, have your opinions, speak out, post it on Facebook, and make me cringe. Just do me a favor, play some Depeche Mode or Lennon in the background while you do and think of harmony-loving me. 😉