Volume XX, Number 28 (Issue 980) July 11, 2022
Whole Lotta Conflict Goin On
When was the last time you disagreed with someone? I am betting it has been within the last twenty-four hours. If you don’t mind me asking, who was it with and what was the source of that disagreement? (Disagreements?) If one of those conflicts was with someone close to you, it likely arose due to some form of miscommunication. Odds are, either you said something they didn’t understand as you intended, or they said or did something that you didn’t interpret in the way they intended. Bottom line, miscommunication happens constantly. Because it does, it is a chief source of much of the conflict you and I experience. The good news about that is conflict that arises out of a miscommunication can usually be resolved – especially if the parties involved are willing to talk it through and interested in a win-win rather than a win-lose outcome.
But there is another type of conflict that is not so easily resolved. In fact, it is nearly impossible because it emanates from differences in value systems. Think about it. When the conflict is with someone you know, especially a family member, close friend, or associate, the odds are your respective values are reasonably well in sync. Certainly, in Sandy’s and my case, after all the years we have been married, our personal values are well married too. Thus, when we have the occasional argument, it is a good bet a miscommunication is behind it.
Now, how many times have you seen two people or two groups of people on opposing sides of an issue launch into name-calling and vilification of the other party? Does such behavior help? Does it solve the conflict? Does one side’s debate points change the mind of anyone on the other side? The answer is no, no, no. Why is that? Because you and I rarely if ever renounce a long-held belief or value. You can probably count on one hand the number of times you have witnessed anyone do a one-eighty when it comes to their values (a religious conversion experience notwithstanding). After all, once people have bought into a collection of values and the principles that go with them, they (we) easily adopt a binary bias that thinks and sounds like “I’m right and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong.” Making matters worse, there is no room in the middle for considering, let alone agreeing with a different point of view.
All is not lost, however, because there are times when a crisis accompanied by pressure from an outside source capable of holding both parties accountable can force us to middle ground or an alternate path where solutions are possible. We need look no further for an example of that than the recent agreement on
restricting gun access that occurred in the U.S. Senate. The key to that and similar successes? Finding a shared interest. Accomplish that along with a couple of other things and even value-based conflict can sometimes be resolved.
In closing, let me apologize to the one and only Jerry Lee Lewis for my obvious pilfering of the title of his Rockabilly hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On.” It just felt right to substitute conflict for shakin’. But maybe that’s just another example of my occasionally convoluted thinking.
Soli Deo Gloria
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” 2 Timothy 2:23-24
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Copyright 2022 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.