Spiralling conflict or evolving reconciliation? Part One
By Eartha Muirhead
I am haunted by this deep truth: “In and through community lies the salvation of the world….for the human race today is on the brink of self-annihilation.” M. Scott Peck wrote these words in 1987.
There are a few very distressing conflicts on this island that I am aware of. How can we, as part of the global community of justice-seeking folks, support reconciliation for those involved? I feel despair, disappointment and the absurdity of these intractable situations and want to offer some personal insights.
The well-being of a community begins with the individual taking responsibility for their own mental health; aka “the personal is political.” Blame, ill-will, spite, resentment, anger, deceit, contempt, etc. can be observed and then let go of. Understanding the danger of holding onto reactivity and unskillful attitudes allows me to choose alternatives. Just like a stained cloth, when dyed, does not result in a consistent color, so too, if I pretend that I have no shortcomings, my actions will manifest as passive-aggressive. Watching my mind, without fear of the “shadow” eventually softens my defenses and opens me up to self-compassion and then to compassion for the other. From that place, I can face conflict without antagonism or the need to retaliate. Deconstructing my conditioning to appear to be perfect and to hide my mistakes only fuels the spiral of creating enemies. Accepting my fear-based patterning can help me look at conflict as an opportunity not as a catastrophe.
I am not suggesting that anyone go along with injustice, abuse or violence. Having clear boundaries is an act of self-compassion. I am asking all “equal” parties in a conflict to see the others’ perspective and their attempt, however misguided, to meet their needs. For this next week, what is one thing you can do to reinvest in the spirit of collective cohesion on this small bountiful island?
Scott Peck ends his book “The Different Drum” by saying: “There is evil in the world and community is it’s natural ENEMY.” Maybe we can have enemies and not turn our hearts away from them but learn from them about the human need for accountability, community and belonging.