“It doesn’t have to be like this. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”
Conflict on a small scale
I took an evening walk through the Hague with my Dutch husband last night. We chatted gaily about the lovely evening air and the stupid movie we’d watched earlier, but we avoided a hairy topic that hung out between us, cockily throwing an arm around each of our shoulders, skipping along saying here I am, HERE I AM! This topic was to be the next thwhack of the wrecking ball to our already dilapidated marriage. (I use the word ‘dilapidated’ purposefully. It’s my husband’s favorite English word, and every time I use it, he repeats it repeatedly like a drunken parrot…I won’t pretend that I don’t find excuses to use it.)
Anyway, we’d almost reached home when we finally acknowledged this topical ‘thing’ vying for attention. We stopped in the middle of the street, two meters between us to give the creature ample room to dance around obnoxiously while we seethed words of exchange. The argument was brief but intense, and we walked the rest of the way home on opposite sides of street (and mind). Upon arriving home, we escaped to the respective corners of our house so we could both brood over the other person’s perceived lack of insight and understanding.
It’s the first time in nine years that we’ve gone to bed without talking it out. Maybe hard to believe, but it’s true.
This morning, we sat in our garden with a cup of coffee and engaged in a mental test to see who could be silent the longest. Fortunately we quickly tired of this game since we’re both shit at it, and we resolved that our conflict will not be solved by trying to make the other understand, but rather by accepting that we’ll have to agree to disagree; that we can only work together to find a solution to our
bondage mortgage and seek our own, respective happiness. Then we moved onto other important topics such as which stalks to cut from our grape vines, and how to salvage the dying mint plant that we recently transplanted.
Conflict on a grand scale
I’m not going to pretend that I fully understand why this is all happening in Syria, or how it can be solved. The more I read about it and try to understand, the more I am confused and helpless as to what I can really do to help this situation, and for that matter all violence that we insist upon continually weaving into our collective story.
I wrote an entire blog on this topic, but it really just comes down to this: I am (one of billions) against violence as a means of solving conflict. Talking may seem an implausible solution when certain parties or governments are using inhumane violence as a way of dominating or controlling, but more violence to thwart violence is not going to work…right? I think we have ample proof of this. As an American standing by watching my country wage war time and time again, I see no evident proof that things are getting better (that being said, if we never intervened what might have happened…I don’t know). I know that when you’re dealing with insanity, it’s hard to avoid. Look at Nazi Germany. Look at North Korea…I know it’s not black and white.
Micro or macro, large or small: human beings, rise to the challenge. TALK.
It takes incredible courage to communicate our truest feelings in relationship. It takes courage to stop the cycle of violence that has plagued humanity from the get-go. But believe there has to come a point when we have to work things out by talking and talking alone. Talking out our marriage problems (even if it means ending it), talking out our work conflicts (even if it results in confrontation), and talking out our deep-seated historical conflicts that are by no means easy to solve.
I don’t now what it’s like to lead a country or defend peace or be responsible for a nation of suffering people. I know it’s easy for me to say this as an individual devoid of the enormous responsibility of protecting citizens. But I stand by what I say:
We need to talk.