Love In Conflict

It is a lovely 64 degrees today in Southern Illinois. The pleasant temperature along with an 11 mile per hour wind says Fall has arrived! I wrestled all morning trying to delete my old iCloud account…since I have been paying for both it and the new account that I got when I changed phones. It was just $2.99 per month…but it has been an uneccessay payment for over a year. Finally I succeeded and I feel like a victor that has vanquished a worthy foe!

Jackie DeShannon wrote the popular Pop song, ‘What the World Needs Now is Love.’ The song was released in 1965…and the need for love is still with us today. I listened to a radio program on the BBC last Sunday that had poetry from an Irish poet. He read one of his poems regarding a dispute over his wife’s beloved tree, in their backyard, receiving a complaint from their next door neighbors. The neighbors said that the shade cast by the tree was causing their tomato plants to not grow. The poem discussed that once you are involved in conflict…you are enveloped by it and it is difficult to see where love can apply…

Conflict seems to be the increasing norm of our culture and political life. The scorecards are always out and the point tallies are calculated each day as to who got the better of another…who had the best one liner that diminished their opponent…who won in the workplace and who lost! Have you ever considered that you can ultimately win by loosing? On many occassions in my life I have found that the best path was to defer to those who appeared to wish me ill… Often happiness and peace is inherent in understanding another’s aggression. During my years as a manger/administrator at Southern Illinois University@ Carbondale, I found that often conflict was born out of imaginations and misunderstandings. If you can find two people that are ready to fuss and tangle and insert a mutual feeling of love into the division…compromise and reconciliation is not far behind.

All to often we develop our opinions of each other through innuendos and half-truths and internal emotions that represent our battle with ourselves…rather than our relationships with others. Patience, along with common sense, is a lost virtue. Love in conflict is the primary ingredient of a long and happy marriage. To ask two human beings to live together until death does them part…is a big ask… Those married couples that tell you that they never have a disagreement…are just liars…or aliens from another planet. To live a happy and successful life you have to inculcate love in conflict.

I have been watching the weekly documentary entitled, The Vow, on HBO. It is a fascinating account of intelligent and upwardly mobile men and women committing their lives to a cult. When some finally break away from the cult…it is a brutish emotional ordeal for them! They testify that they do not understand how they committed to such a oppressive culture where many of the women were branded with the initials of the cult leader, who they called Vanguard…and they were referred to as slaves that had to report their every move…including being required to obtain permission from their, assigned, master…before they could consume calories and thus had to report the calories to their master… Many of the women who were in the sub-group of NXIVM, a supposed self improvement group, called, The Vow, were branded with the initials of the cult leader, Keith Raniere, and were expected to have sex with him along with being required to do anything that their master required of them. When they received a text from their master, Raniere was the Grand Master of The Vow, they had to respond within one minute. These women were looking for self improvement and empowerment as women and were amazed that they fell for just the opposite in the cult that they became a part of.

It is difficult to see the forest when you are in the middle of the trees! Conflict breeds more conflict and destruction. We of the human family are a bit like giant sponges. We absorb what we are exposed to…and some of it sticks! I have had the habit for the majority of my life of examining relationships with colleagues and others to ensure that I am following the Hippocratic standard of, ‘First Do No Harm.’ If I have the power to influence another person…I want to influence them for their edification and enrichment…not to serve my own purposes. When someone does you a wrong…it is a singular event if you return kindness to them…

‘Not rendering evil for evil or reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.’ I Peter 3:9. KJV

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