Conflict–Not So Bad?

Avoiding conflict is never a rational motive, and never leads to a “safe” choice.

People lie to avoid conflict. In the process, they do damage to themselves and eventually to others they intended to protect, when the lie is exposed. Exposure of the lie can be put off by telling more and more lies to cover up the original lie–but how safe and comfortable an existence is this? Peace at any price is another way people try to avoid conflict. Men refuse to stand up to their wives because they don’t want a fight. In the process, they enable irrational behavior and–when the issue is merely misunderstanding, and not irrationality on the wife’s part–they deeply insult their wives by implying they’re incapable of reason. Women make similar errors with their husbands when, instead of confronting them directly about what bothers them, they manipulate and go behind their husbands’ backs to get what they want, only to have it blow up in everybody’s face later. Kids do similar things with parents, and parents with kids. Countries and governments do amazing things to avoid conflict, such as letting tyrants build nuclear weapons plants and blackmail hard-working free people for food, goods and tax money. This is all in the name of “avoiding conflict.” How? By building up the strength of dictators and increasing the risk of deadly war.

As the comic George Carlin says, “It’s all BS–and it’s all bad for you.” Avoiding conflict is as stupid and as irrational as looking for conflict. Most of the time, conflict is a stage to pass through on the way to resolution. Conflict is not inherently bad, and it’s often good (or at least necessary). The only thing that ever makes sense is honesty, assertiveness, sticking to facts and reason–and acting with justice. Justice means giving a person what they deserve. If they are normally reasonable and show a capacity for and willingness to use reason, then treat them as such. If they’re the opposite, then treat them as necessary. It’s not all that complicated to figure out. For most, it’s just hard to do.