Transforming conflict

Conflict abounds in the modern world. We have made amazing technological advances. But humanity is still afflicted by arguments and wars, within families and between nations. Whether it’s words or guns humanity is still racked with abuse and violence on a global scale.

This is not to suggest that all conflict is wrong. But the way in which we hold differing views or seek varying outcomes can be handled in creative or destructive ways. Conviction and connection are both important but not always easy to balance.

It’s possible to win the argument but lose the relationship. We can be “right” but still so “wrong”. Truth and love are inseparable companions if we want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. But pride gets in the way, especially if we know that we are “right” and the other party can’t or won’t see it. This principle applies not only to individuals and groups but also to nations. It requires humility to listen to others and to value connection over conquest.

Pursuing truth in the name of God offers an additional temptation to aggressively insist on what is right without love or humility. At this point it is helpful to remember that, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. (1 Peter 5:5) What a sobering thought. Among the “seven deadly sins” pride tops the list, above lying and murder! (Proverbs 6:17) Why is pride such a big deal to God?

Because it separates us from God and from one another. It creates an attitude of independence that says, “I don’t need you”. It also allows us to create a human hierarchy where some people are more valuable than others. It allows us to justify buying cheap clothes, produced by impoverished workers, working in dangerous conditions. It legitimises ignoring, abusing, demonising or even killing others who do not see the truth as we do.

By contrast, humility says, “I need God and I share a common humanity with those around me.”  Even if others disagree with us they are still treated with dignity and respect. Ultimately it acknowledges that we are all in need of God’s grace.

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