Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Looking for peace in all the wrong places

Effort to figure out how the conflict began is a strangely effective way to ensure it does not end.


Alex said...

Interesting. But how does one determine what the problem is then?

GreenSmile said...

Yes...it is a subtle trap. My insistance on brevity means I leave out some important context:
1. among two parties to a quarrel, the effort to find a cause is extremely likely to come off as an effort to fix blame...some third party is required.
2. but lacking an outsider, those two parties should focus on what would end the dispute by drawing a curtain over the past and just say "here we are, how do we go forward". This is artificial, this is art of negotiation. Just a reframing perhaps, yet what IS the difference between seeing what started a conflict and simply seeing that you are in conflict? The latter acknowledges that basic differences make some particular dispute inevitable, the differences themselves bear a less toxic load of blame than recounting the events of the particular. When the fight is seen as arising from who you are and who the other is, you can't feel as much blame as for a fight seen as arising from what you did/said or what the other did/said. Yes, the stakes are higher then they seemed to be when the premise was "what started this" but the stakes would promptly be raised to that level in any case and it is with the whole relationship at stake that priorities are clear and results are more binding.
3. If it exists, the mutual wish that you were not in conflict and some desire to compromise on differences can then be applied when the focus is "how do get along together on this issue?" This desire can arise when both parties, from experience or insight, attain the feeling that they gain more by letting go indignation than they gain by questing for personal justice. If only one can let go, the other can pull them back into the "who started it" pit.

In far fewer words, the need to determine what the problem is is part of the problem if the "what" can't be both rescoped to the root differences of the adversaries and simultaneously depersonalized.