Sunday, August 14, 2016

Conflict and Creativity

Jesus confronts in the Temple: Block
 In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus speaks about conflict.

Every one of us faces conflict or confrontation of one kind or another.  Such confrontations are not only inevitable; they can make for better human relationships

In the classic Broadway play/film “Raisin in the Sun” the basic story line is:  A family unexpectedly inherits $10,000.  What to do?  The mother wants a small house out of the inner city.  The daughter wants to realize her dream of going to medical school.  But the son persuades the mother to let him start a business with a friend.   And a so-called “friend” skips town with the money. Suddenly the family is in the midst of conflict.

 Sometimes people disappoint us, making messes of their lives and the lives of those closest to them. But in a situation with multiple challenges, the mother in the play had it exactly right:  There is always something left to love.  And the worse things are, the more there is to love. That family banded together and emerged stronger.

We have to lift up, forgive, support, love especially those who may disappoint us.  Keep in mind some guidelines for arguing fairly so conflicts can be a healing rather than a hurting experience.

1.      Set up a time to settle an issue as soon as possible.  Why?  We don’t want to bottle up our anger indefinitely.  Setting an agreeable time and place allows us to cool off and sort out the real issue.

 2.      Clarify carefully the particular behavior you object to.  For example, people’s dirty clothes on the floor makes “more work for me.”  Make “I” statements rather than “you” statements.  Address the behavior and avoid negative judgments.  Relationships call for nurturing if they are to become stronger.

3.      Express your feelings honestly.  A wife whose husband was always late for dinner without calling left him a plate of dog food.  She obviously was expressing her feelings through her actions and fortunately her husband was good humored.  Disguising feelings, however, can be dangerous.  Just as aches and pain alert us to physical problems, negative feelings alert us to problems in our relationships.

4.      Come up with creative solutions.  You may have a specific request that will resolve the issue (e.g., telling a teenager to play to play the drums some time other than midnight).  Many times, we cannot think of a solution.  Then we brainstorm. Sometimes we simply have to say we agree to disagree.

There are many other guidelines for arguing fairly: actively listening, not taking yourself too seriously, staying calm, spelling out our agreements/disagreements, and so forth. Many of these guidelines we know, but in the heat of an argument, we can easily forget them.

St. Paul wrote centuries ago, “Love does not brood over injuries.”  All of us must be willing to forgive, forget and move on and be friends.
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When all else fails, turn to Chapter 6 of Luke:  Be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate.  Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Pardon and you will be pardoned.

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