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Resolving Conflict: A Dose of Truth Sets You Free

The absence of active conflict and war is not peace, prosperity, and good will toward men. It may just be apathy, boredom, and stagnation.

Is it a dispute or a debate? Hiding your feelings and opinions will make you resentful and even sick. Do you bite your tongue, censor yourself and afraid to challenge others? Become argument literate so you can handle a tussle with the best of them without turning it into a brawl.

Sometimes if you don't protest and put up a fight, you will lose face and the respect from those you care about. It may be wise to occasionally clash constructively without the fear of rejection or retaliation. To be healthy, you must not only have the courage to be imperfect but also the courage to speak up. However, polarizing into extremes will not get us to a solution. Nothing is either or.

An exchange of ideas without rancor is critical to a productive relationships. In other words, we can disagree without being disagreeable. When you try to hide your feelings, they will manifest themselves one way or other. There is a fine line between heroic persistence and foolish stubbornness; dogmatism and being a hypocrite.

How willing are you to compromise and thing of mutually acceptable options? Can you be reasoned with? We tend to become hostile when we attempt to defend positions we know deep down are indefensible. Do you put yourself in a pretzel or become a contortionist, twisting and turning to justify something that doesn't make sense? Even though your team sucked and lost the big game, is it because of a bad call or the opposing team cheated? And no doubt we will find other fans to high five and commiserate with us.

So, if you find others who agree with you, does it make it true? Facts and truths exist independent of how many people believe the opposite. No matter how many people believe a big lie like the sun revolving around the earth doesn't make it true. If you hate the opposing team, they cannot do anything right, and if you love them, they can do no wrong.

Do you only celebrate the best the member of your team does and the worst of the opposition? Is it an accident of birth that dictates who you love and who you hate? Would you believe the things we hold dear if you were born in a different part of the country, in a big city, on a farm, the opposite sex, a different race, to a different family or in a different time? Are you willing to build a stronger foundation based on truth?

At certain points in your life, it may be helpful to pause, check yourself out and reflect.

Once there was a hockey game between the United States and Russia that the United States handily won. The American press reported the good news in glowing details and the Russian press reported that Russia cam in second and the United States came in next to last.

How often were you absolutely sure you were right and proven wrong? A friend jokingly told me that the last time he made a mistake was in fourth grade when he spelled a word incorrectly. Do you brag and sell wolf cookies that you have to defend or are you willing to admit your weaknesses and be guided by those who are more knowledgeable?

Once, a long time ago, there was a wise Zen master. People from far and near would seek his counsel and ask for his wisdom. Many would come and ask him to teach them, enlighten them in the way of Zen. He seldom turned any away.

One day an important man, a man used to command and obedience came to visit the master. "I have come today to ask you to teach me about Zen. Open my mind to enlightenment." The tone of the important man's voice was one used to getting his own way.

The Zen master smiled and said that they should discuss the matter over a cup of tea. When the tea was served the master poured his visitor a cup. He poured and he poured and the tea rose to the rim and began to spill over the table and finally onto the robes of the wealthy man. Finally the visitor shouted, "Enough. You are spilling the tea all over. Can't you see the cup is full?"

The master stopped pouring and smiled at his guest. "You are like this tea cup, so full that nothing more can be added. Come back to me when the cup is empty. Come back to me with an empty mind." (Bengt's Notes)

Do you have the important life skill to resolve conflict without resorting to violence? Because emotions are not logical or worry about long term consequences they make you want what you want right now at all cost. A good day to die? We all need to monitor our emotions and back off when our emotions are getting ahead of us. Only relationships in which we respect each other and enjoy the pleasure of a good scrap will last.

In the final analysis, don't sweat the small stuff and everything is small stuff. In a hundred years, you won't own anything, nothing you said or did will have mattered. In fact, no one will even remember you - as if you never existed. I hope that makes you approach life with more humility.

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