Conflict is a universal human experience. However, not everyone views it the same. When you think of conflict, what metaphor would you use? Some see conflict as a sinkhole, something to be avoided at all costs. Others view conflict as a boxing match where parties exchange jabs and only finish when one man is knocked out. I view conflict as a fire with both the power to destroy and create. Sometimes the flames of conflict burn so hot and high, they disintegrate everything in their path. But conflict doesn’t have to become destructive. In fact, fire when controlled, is a powerful support for sustaining health and wellness. Consider the warmth it provides on a cold winter’s night, or the endless delicious meals it helps cook. Without fire, humanity would have remained in the dark for the last millennium.
Like fire, conflict can shed light on that which frightens and confuses us and weighs us down. Conflict is a tool of our personal and communal transformation. It’s not to be shunned, but to be harnessed. Enter conflict analysis. This is the task of reviewing a conflict in neutral terms in order to get at the root and find a just and fair solution. In personal, organizational and community-based relations, the elements of trust and a certain amount of equality of power are necessary to work through conflict. Without trust and power equality, conflict will become that destructive force so many fear.