Someday perhaps, someone will amend Heraclitus’ old saying “The only thing that is constant is change.” Maybe I’ll just update it myself. “The only things that are constant are change and conflict over change.” Robert Kennedy said it better, Progress is a nice word, but change is its motivator, and change has its enemies.”
If you’ve been paying attention to current events, you’re aware of some momentous social changes during the past year or so. As these have taken place, strong reaction and backlash have made the news, too. These are certainly interesting times.
As is often the case, change and the accompanying conflict spring forth from individual, internal debate. Humanity is constantly in the process of competition, tension, conflict, and the resulting changes. Instead of working together for the liberation and joy of humankind as a whole, some people place themselves in stubborn resistance to this humane objective.
Rather than being able to work well with others, many of us prefer to remain rooted in the status quo. The natural process of change and the urge to fight change means that different people get caught up in expressing their opinions and points of view. This means that nobody is really listening to each other and liberation creeps along slowly or gets sidetracked to a stagnant place. The resulting conflict often degenerates into revolutions and counter-revolutions.
There are other times when the need to change and conflict work together in order to bring about a happier, positive result. We see this happen in the case of group oriented problem solving like the technique of brainstorming. In these instances, the group is generally oriented in favor of a particular outcome but the individuals have different ideas as to how to accomplish it. It is in this positive environment where individuals present their ideas, have them challenged, then have them improved and blended by the contributions of other group members.
When we accept the reality of human diversity and different points of view we can become more objective and thoughtful regarding change and conflict. We can then understand that each individual has something to contribute. Everyone then benefits because they learn more about that individual and her or his attributes.
The basic thing to remember is that changes are coming, like them or not. Our challenge is that these changes happen in positive, constructive ways. The inevitable conflicts will need to be helpfully resolved.
Our contemporary civilization is more closely intertwined than ever before. This means there will continue to be great changes and conflicts in the foreseeable future. Diplomacy, empathy, and compromise can help bring about a strategy and purpose that can be used positively by and for everyone involved.
Everyone is ultimately involved.