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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Theory of Conflict Part 1

Where doth conflict in the world cometh from? It seems that the most common response that most people would give is that conflict arises because of disagreement. But I have a problem with such a response. Disagreement is a necessary component of conflict, but it is not a sufficient component. Suppose I enjoy vaginal sex and you enjoy anal sex. Why would we ever have conflict over our disagreement? We just have different preferences. However, in almost all cases that one can conjure, conflict involves disagreement, but disagreement in and of itself does not lead to conflict. I have a different answer to this question.

First I want to mention that my theory will not always be applicable, sometimes conflict is not even the result of disagreement. If two people hate their personalities and insult each other or fight against one another that is conflict not from the result of disagreement. However, we can get out of this dilemma by saying that two individuals fighting against each other simply because they despise one another is not conflict, it is "dispute". Conflict is a more serious term applicable to large groups of people not angry individuals for whom the term "dispute" would be more applicable. By making such an adjustment my theory should then explain the major cause of the conflicts in the world.

Conflict does follow from disagreement but disagreement is not enough. More needs to happen. Consider religion. Religion has been the source of major world conflicts and in many ways still is. Different groups of people have different religions. In fact, even the same religion has many different denominations. There are a lot of major disagreements. But here is the interesting thing. In the United States religion has not been a source of much conflict. We did not have fighting groups of people in a war against one another. Why? The separation of church and state definitely played a big role in this. But what about the separation of church and state helped calm the conflict or in some cases abolish it? Consider the situation today in the United States. Three friends go to lunch. The topic of religion comes up. One friend says, "I am a Catholic", another one says, "I am a Muslim but I will still be your friend", and the last one says, "I am an atheist and I do not care what you believe, you are my good friends". What just happened?! A Christian, Muslim, and an atheist sitting together peacefully talking, laughing, enjoying themselves, and in the end hugging one another before departing? How? How is this even possible? This would have never happened hundreds of years ago. There is clearly major disagreement among three people. But there is no conflict at all. Why not? But why was there major conflict in the past bloody history?

The answer as it seems to me has to do with the imposition of will. In the past religion and the state were together. Religion was a set of beliefs and the state was a means of imposing those beliefs. One group had one set of beliefs and another had a conflicting set of beliefs. The one in authority imposed its will on another group. The other group rebelled and this imposition of the will lead to conflict between groups of people. This is the major source of conflict in the world. Thus, my theory behind conflict is that disagreement is necessary for conflict, but the imposition of will is sufficient for conflict.

Today in the United States, in the three friend example I described above, no one friend imposes her will on her other friends. Likewise, her friends do not impose their will on her. They respect each other's wills and do not let their will impose their will. There is disagreement, but this disagreement does not develop into conflict because there is no imposition of will.

Now consider a different question. What is the biggest source of conflict today in the United States? It is not religion and it has not been religion. It is the politics that people have. That is where the conflict comes in the United States and in Europe. Why? Because politics is all about the imposition of will. The Republicans have their own views and the Democrats have their own views. They seek to get into authority and impose their views on the disagreeing group of people. The differing group of people rebel against this imposition of will and thereby create conflict.

The world would be a much more peaceful place and thereby a better place if we learn not to impose our will. If the imposition of will is greatly reduced the conflicts that arise from this imposition around the world will go away, just like religious conflict has mainly went away from the more secular countries like US or Europe.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that conflict comes from the imposition of will. However, sometimes it's worth it. For example, it's worth conflicting with and imposing our will upon a Jehovah's witness who wants to let her 3-year-old daughter die rather than get a simple blood transfusion.