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The Purpose of Conflict

Photo by Bryon Lippincott (2019) “A Child Soldier in Mindanao”

Photo by Bryon Lippincott (2019) “A Child Soldier in Mindanao”

The purpose of conflict should not be to take out the person we are in conflict with, but to destroy the weapon—the disagreement—creating the conflict. Let’s make sure conflict focuses us on the true enemy

If we apply this thought in the political space, assassinating someone because they carry a destructive world view only removes one person, and not the spiritual and cultural system that created them. Tools like assassination do not create world peace, even if they may stop war in the short term, they do little to change cultures of violence and can proliferate more wars in the long term. 

Jesus’ words are clear, “All who take up a sword will perish by a sword.” Violence breeds violence. Bishop Proano’s insights expand on Jesus words, “There are only two invincible forces in the twentieth century—the atom bomb and nonviolence.”  Be clear though, non-violence does not mean non-action…it has to infer action or it becomes a retreat in the face of evil. 

A non-violent way of attacking something evil is determining its systemic roots and then addressing those roots.  We can simplify Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as: 

  1. Physical and safety (bottom level)

  2. Spiritual and emotional (mid tier)

  3. Dreams and destiny (upper reach)

If someone we interface with lives with a habitual tendency toward violence, they feel a lack in one of these areas. If they are an influencer and their lack is not based in present reality one or more factors are at work, then their actions are tied to their past experience, and/or their culture feels and believes there is a lack. Behind or latched onto these two things we often find spiritual forces at work. 

It is rare when dealing with conflict that the problem is the problem. If a snake strikes at me, how often is this really because it is aggressive? What if is it because I scared it? Before we vote to cut off the head of people in the way of our peace, let’s take some time to discover why peace is already lacking. If we are sure it’s because they don’t think like we do, we have already chosen to be like the very people we believe our enemies to be.

Read my book about Loving Enemies.