NATURE OF CONFLICT
• JAN NUZZO
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Gibran.
Many times you and I hear people say that life would be so much nicer if personal conflicts were not here to plague us. Indeed, the word hassle implies an uncomfortable situation of throwing some problem and its consequences back and forth until we become all too weary of the struggle. But a strange counterpart of this uncomfortable struggle is often an uncomfortable complaisance. Some seek to alleviate tiring conflicts to reach peace of mind, and yet when there are no apparent conflicts, they find that this absence did not bring the anticipated peace. And so I think it is not ridiculous to expect that peace of mind is not the grand result of an elimination of conflict, but that peace thrives alongside of conflict. Perhaps emotional friction has become difficult to accept because it often invades other facets of our personality. What is painful to us is not the actual conflict, but the exercising of a part of our organismic faculties which have not been worked. Just as an athlete undergoes pain when he works muscles during training sessions - muscles that he does not often exert off season, so too we often find discomfort in manipulating our personalities to cope with our lives. In a sense, our discomfort is the result of the effort the muscles in our understanding must make in order to work out the problem. The question arises as to whether or not some degree of friction is necessary to our lives. When we talk specifically in terms of ourselves, the answer is most difficult, for it is with a subjectivity that leads to self-pity. But in view of the consequences of a life free from confli"ct, the picture becomes clearer.
Of course pain never appears to us to be a pleasant thing. But friction is far different from pain for it is friction which allows us to actively work within ourseves in order to come to a refined situation with which we can cope . As long as we are able to maintain this activity, we are able to be the generators rather than the receptors . The absence of conflict, then, or complaisancy, is shallow rather than fertile . It does not give us anything to work with, and therefore, robs us of our mobility and creativity. In effect, passivity overcomes us and leads us to believe that we are far better off than if we had conflicts with which to concern ourselves. But yet we all know many people who are discouraged by complaisancy because they feel they aren't going anywhere. And indeed, they are not. It seems then that the joy we see in our lives does not result from complaisancy nor does the sorrow result from conflict . Just as joy interacts with sorrow, so too does friction affect passivity. Just one extreme will never yield a peaceful state of mind for each can be carried too far. The important question is whether or not we can maintain the needed friction without becoming destructive on the one hand, or complaisant on the other . There appears to be no reason why we can't create a situation where two extremes nourish, rather than destroy each other. We cannot resent the tides, for without them, the sea would lie stagnant.
STRAIT 23 MARCH. 1 972
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