Conflicts, disputes and other disagreements are not the disease. They are symptoms of the disease.
When we think about how a virus spreads, doctors, researchers, data gatherers and others look at the patterns, causes and effects of health and disease conditions in a particular population.
Epidemiology is a very specific interdisciplinary science, but when we talk about the presenting issues that lead to conflict, even in our post-therapeutic age, we are still hesitant to become armchair analysts.
Or, we analyze and get it wrong.
The beginning of understanding the how and why the symptoms of conflict are confused with the nature of a conflict itself, begins with taking apart the behavioral and personality choices that individuals make—and that particular populations, in particular environments, support.
Think about it: In the workplace, there still remains the illusion that resources are limited, thus competition is reinforced.
Thus, individuals who would rather be collaborative are now in conflict with the underpinnings of the environment where they spend 40 to 60 hours per week.
Think about it: In the church—or any other religious organization—the illusion remains that faith and belief will remove the stain of previous wrongs and mistakes without active engagement on the part of the individual.
Thus, individuals who are looking for active engagement wind up within groups that would rather remain collectively passive in the face of all manner of wrongdoing.
Think about it: In the school, bullying behavior manifests, but politicians, teachers, policy makers and others would rather support a broken system that encourages collective, Industrial system based responses.
Thus, micro-schooling with smaller groups (or homeschooling) is pooh-poohed and parents (who vote) raise children who are overly aggressive due to familial environments, and are never directly confronted about the results of their uninformed parenting styles by the “system.”
Root causes—and getting back to them—is often the first thing that is dismissed by critics of therapy, counseling, and even mediation.
But without exploring and getting to the root of root causes, the solutions to the corrosive nature of conflict will never be fully teased apart.
And we will continue to be collectively surprised by apathy and inaction, bullying, poor communication, and ineffective organizational responses, even as we build more tools that separate us further.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principle Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org