Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Between a rock and a hard place:


A reflection on conflict

Conflict is universal.  The desire to live peacefully is challenged daily by both internal and external forces.  To live ethically means putting the needs of others into consideration. This occurs on the international scale, as in the plight of refugees, and it happens on a personal scale, such as on the job. It is common to be pulled in two opposing directions.  For example, a co-worker may want your assistance with a particular project, while at the same time someone else, be it another co-worker, a boss, or a customer, asks for you to take on a different task. Thus we are often between “a rock and a hard place”, amid two difficult solutions. Conflict therefore is bound to ensue.

These decisions are made in the moment. They cannot be deferred. In situ, we live. We cannot see the whole, and even what we do see; we often wrongly interpret.  Einstein has been quoted as having said, “The more I know, the more I know I don’t know.” That has always stayed with me.  Even with the best of knowledge, humility reminds us that we actually know little.

The only choice for peace, it appears would be to live with the choices that one makes. Autonomy and forgiveness must play a role. To have the option and power to make decisions while also recognizing the unintended consequences and limitations that those decisions make, is, it seems the essence of a moral life. When between a rock and a hard place, we need to brace for an impact, then, after the conflict has ended, forgive, make peace and move on. Nothing else will do.