“You Can’t Have One without the Other”
Peace and conflict are two concepts that have opposing meanings, yet they remain on opposite sides of the same coin. While singing to a sold out crowd in Las Vegas, “Ole’ Blue Eyes”, Frank Sinatra, once said, “You can’t have one without the other.” Though Mr. Sinatra was talking about love and marriage, two notions that have their fair share of peace and conflict, the fact remains that without conflict, there cannot be peace and without peace, there cannot be conflict. Conflict is any problem pitting man versus man, man versus nature, man versus technology, and even man versus himself. Peace, quite simply, is the solution. Unfortunately, humanity does not find entertainment in peace, rather conflict brings with it excitement. How many books have you read, or television shows have you watched, that don’t involve conflict? That’s right - none. The more important an issue is, the more interesting conflict makes it.
Conflict is derived from the Latin word conflictus, meaning the act of striking together. In most cases conflict can be avoided, however, sometimes it is viewed as the only option. We don’t have to look very far to find an example of conflict being chosen as the only means to achieving peace. Our country has been going through a drought of peace ever since the travesties of 9-11. The leaders of the United States struck back against terrorism by employing military tactics, a solution that is not peaceful, however, at the time it was seen as the only solution. Conflict is not a new concept by any stretch - it is something that has been infecting our world for centuries.
One specific type of conflict is religious conflict. There has been a constant conflict between Catholics and Protestants. “Which religion is better?” and “Whose beliefs are correct?” are just a few arguments being “discussed” between these religions. Another ageless conflict involving religion is the separation of Church and state. As prevalent in the Middle Ages as it is today, the religious versus secular debate is manifested in situations such as the government’s refusal to fund parish schools.
There are, however, certain types of conflict that are good. One such type of conflict involves the politics of the world. Argument always arises when a country declares its particular form of government. Democracy, which is embedded in our Constitution, seems to be a fair solution to other forms such as Communism, Socialism, Dictatorships, or Oligarchies. On an individual basis, some people are democrats, others republicans, while some claim to fall in the middle ground. Political conflict is a good and natural thing because it allows for the participation of ideas as a way to create a government that is collaborative. We all hold different beliefs. That is a good thing. Imagine how boring our world would be if everyone held the same viewpoint on issues such as abortion and the death penalty. Yet, political conflict can go bad when power is misused or when the government does not aptly serve its people.
Another brand of conflict is racial. Since the days of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and right on up to the 21st century, racism has been one of the most prominent conflicts in the United States and beyond. There will always be tension between blacks and whites because of the overwhelming amount of close-minded people in the world. Why does one race have to be better than the other? Why can’t we forget what happened between past generations of blacks and whites? Some African-Americans will always hold a grudge towards whites for what previous generations put them through. And many whites will always claim superiority, using slavery as ammunition. What everyone needs to realize though, is that it is unhealthy to live in the past. It is sad that people are too stubborn to realize that there is enough room in this world for different religions, races, and parties to co-exist. Life is too short to waste so much time bickering over issues that are based on inequality, separation, and who’s right and who’s wrong.
Respect is something that everyone wants and deserves. However, when people have conflicting thoughts, this word is tossed out the window. We tend to forget the golden rule, “treat others as you would want to be treated.” Unfortunately, respect is not something that is given, but rather something that is earned. The world would be a better place if we gave everyone respect right away and then decided whether to continue giving respect based on the actions of the other party. Respect should follow the example of our judicial system – everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Surely, if we immediately treated everyone as if they were good then they might treat us the same way. That is not to say that bad people do not exist. The point is that everyone deserves the respect of being considered good before we can label him or her as bad. This would make the world a better place allowing for initial peace before conflict is even considered.
Peace and conflict are examples of cause and effect. Conflict is the main problem that, in the end, needs to be resolved. Hopefully, the resolution to, or the effect of the problem is peace. We live in a world where people seek entertainment behind every corner. People go out looking for conflict in their own lives and in the lives of others. If everything were just peachy keen then the world would be a boring and unexciting place to live in. The human desire for entertaining conflict will perpetuate conflict itself. The question remains, however, what is the difference between entertaining conflict and destructive conflict? Like beauty, the answer to this lays in the eye of the beholder. Teenagers might quench their thirst for conflict through reality television like “The Real World.” Housewives may find comforting conflict in “Days of Our Lives” and tabloid newspapers. Former Texas governors and Yale graduates might seek other sources of entertainment, like for instance, war.
Conflict can be a good thing when it is manifested in trivial productions such as sitcoms and tabloids, but it is a whole other story when it jeopardizes lives and the well being of humanity. We can only hope that one day the world will grow up and realize that time is a valuable thing and that we’re wasting it by arguing over everything little things that irks us. God made everyone different in their own way. Those differences are not necessarily bad or wrong. Instead of fighting over those differences, accept everyone for what they are. Our world would be a better, happier, safer, more peaceful place if only we could dispose of all the judgment and hate. Not only is peace the absolute opposite of conflict, but it is also the ends to the means.