Love Letters to Humans (no. 104) — on Conflict

Unpopular opinion: Conflict is opportunity.

In cultures of domination and supremacy, we learn that conflict is wrong, impolite, unacceptable, dangerous even.

To challenge the dominant authority—at home, at work, in our communities, organizations, and institutions—is to challenge the comfort of everyone for whom the status quo is working well enough.

We associate conflict with punishment. The “loser” suffers unpleasant consequences: social, political, financial, physical.

For the prolonged comfort of the privileged and the illusion of safety of the vulnerable, many of us have been taught (and agreed) to avoid, control, and erase difference for so long that we have lost sight of the gold that lies in disagreement.

What if we were skilled enough to be enthusiastic about conflict, to go after understanding each other in difference, to maintain our integrity in the face of uncertainty?

In our relationships with ourselves, the people we say we love, our work (I use this word in its very broadest sense), and the world, moments of conflict are points at which we engage with our deepest values and define our integrity.

Moments of conflict are opportunities

… to know ourselves more clearly.

… to go after understanding one another more deeply.

… to regard our own humanity and sovereignty.

… to regard the humanity and sovereignty of others.

… to clarify and engage with our values.

… to commit to our integrity.

… to deepen intimacy.

… to pursue just, sustainable relationships.

… to disrupt the status quo and intentionally create the world we say we want.


Tension holds possibility. Right relationship nourishes.