Conflict is a broad and diverse topic that takes on a different meaning for each individual. We face conflict every day we live in one form or another – it is an intrinsic part of human life. However a resolution needs to be available to each conflict we face, otherwise would we ever be able to learn, grow and prosper? Norman Vincent Peale once said “Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution”. Indeed, conflict exists because we need to resolve it – would conflict serve any purpose if we didn’t need to figure out a solution? Some people may contend that it would, as our capacity to bear negativity and problems in our lives determines our strength in a sense. Others would say resolutions would be unnecessary if we started figuring out the root causes of conflict, and prevention is better than a cure. Yet due to the flawed nature of humans and their actions, is it ever truly possible to prevent every single conflict? And would this actually create a better world? Or is it more beneficial to let conflict occur so we can find a resolution to learn from it?
Conflict presents itself to us in a number ways – ways we both can and cannot control. The actions of others or conflict arising from nature is out of our control, yet we can choose the way we respond to such things. It would be easy to blame others or life for our misfortune, yet there is always a resolution that we can pursue to solve any issue. We can’t change the way others act or the way the world works; but we can change the way we learn and respond to these things, and hope that others are positively influenced by our decisions. One key issue of the 21st century is the degradation of our environment and the impact this has on our world, biodiversity, food supplies and our future. We have a number of resolutions we could take yet we are bound by the decisions of others and our lack of will to give up the often extravagant lives we lead. Corporate globalisation – basically the intensification of economic growth and our constant need for more resources – has led to not only environmental catastrophes but the common belief that humans are at a war with the earth. In her book Making Peace with the Earth Vandana Shiva calls this eco-apartheid, the separation of humans from the earth. Large corporate entities and transnational corporations exploiting land for resources and consequently money has disconnected us from where we came from and as a result has created a whole host of problems – food shortages, displacement of farmers from their land and unsustainable unregulated economic growth. As common citizens, we could largely believe we have no control over this. Shiva is a strong believer that we need to both preserve the untouched land we have left – concentrating on the cause of conflict – and that we need to restore our earth to its original state by living sustainably and becoming aware of the dangers of corporate globalisation. This is no doubt a complex and multi-faceted issue that cannot be over simplified, and it is difficult to say whether Shiva’s proposal for the preservation of our environment is achievable. However it does suggest that we have control over the resolution to the conflicts we face, no matter how insignificant we may feel. And while many would agree that conflict such as this is detrimental to us and our earth, it could be seen as necessary for the human race to learn from it. Here a resolution is needed and is incredibly important to our survival, but is it also fair to say we need to see the bigger picture? Would the journey of resolving this teach us about minimising greed and maximising compassion? And would this therefore make it fair to say a resolution can only be reached through the exploration of conflict, making conflict and a resolution equally as important?
Like the environment and our current struggles with and against it, people movement raises many important questions for us to consider in order to reach a resolution. Not only is everyone in the world completely unique, our cultures and respective beliefs are completely unique. Many would say that it is this diversity that makes the world an interesting and prosperous place. However many others resent the difference other people represent and fear them because they cannot understand them, they are outsiders – this is xenophobia. The SBS documentary series ‘Go Back to Where You Came From’ explored xenophobia and raised many questions about our seemingly innate fear of what we cannot understand. There are many proposed resolutions to this ‘issue’ but the documentary seemed to spread the message that the only solution to this conflict is to explore and understand it – only when we have a good understanding can we think about a resolution for it. However, with so many people currently in danger such as the Chin people who the participants stayed with in Malaysia, can we afford to wait and explore the conflict before trying to reach a solution? What is foolish and what is wise? The majority of participants on ‘Go Back to Where You Came From’ were uneducated about the true situation of asylum seekers and the complexity of the issue – they thought a resolution could be as simple as turning the boats around and sending these people back to a potentially life-threating situation in their home country. Yet through the exploration of this issue, the participants were forced to confront their fears from deep within and found that a more humane and sensitive approach was needed to resolve the conflict. And many also realised these refugees weren’t ‘illegal’ or bad people – and they needed to be helped by a country such as Australia. This would suggest that although reaching a resolution with little knowledge of the issue may be quicker, a deeper understanding is the only way we can truly solve the conflict and is therefore the wiser choice. This is susceptible to debate but most could agree that we need a resolution that is effective, humane and comes from a place of knowledge, not fear. Could we find a resolution if we first addressed xenophobia and racism amongst Australians? Would that make whatever decision we reached fairer and more effective? The signs point to yes, this would help, and in this case the conflict (and our understanding of it) is equally as important as the resolution, since it is the only way we can get there.
In conclusion, conflict and its resolution can be seen to be equally important amongst many issues and people. However, the complexity of current conflicts require us to scrutinise exactly how a resolution can be reached to such major third agenda issues. Vandana Shiva’s Making Peace With the Earth highlights the damage of conflict and the need for an urgent solution, however ‘Go Back to Where You Came From’ showed that for the most part we cannot reach an effective solution without a detailed and deep understanding of the problem. It could be argued that a balance of knowledge and urgency needs to be reached to resolve these issues before serious harm arises out of them, however only time will tell if the world is ready to explore issues enough to properly resolve them.
Ruby Smyth 2013/14
The Resolution of Conflict is more important than the Conflict itself
Don’t hurt yourself darling,
on the shards of glass,
that I spilt over your bedroom floor,
they won’t leave with time passed
As I lay and tears form,
like peculiar entities I can’t connect,
wondering if like a passionate stranger,
we will never venture to regret
Pollen is forced against my pupils,
the wind unforgivable,
myself unfolding like a jasmine,
your presence cheap and memorable
If moons are madness,
are stars sanity? Or
are they merely mocking me,
knowing their right to vanity
Sleep eludes me and my escape goes,
the touch you brought in every atom of air,
suffocation longing, breath forced,
the shards of glass laying everywhere
I was seven and I dreamed of green light.
I was enchanted by life.
One day a hurricane came and I still don’t know how.
It stopped me from reaching the seas.
Waves hurled down on me as I fought to find the creatures.
But I blinked and I missed.
Because freedom is a burden I wasn’t ready to see.
I’m seventeen and I see the green light.
I’m enchanted by the oceans.
I tell the water to take me away.
Take me, I am ready now.
I stopped considering joining them a long time ago.
I joined them without even knowing.
They became my family, the ones who I didn’t explain it to.
The green light illuminated it enough for us.
Crevices, dark, illuminate the corners but
hopeful sweet faces blossom under unnatural light
she wouldn’t understand you think, about
bodies, searching, connection is
lost; in the lost and found.
Space is only able to multiply
by the lesser amount of those inhabiting it,
but space does not determine
the fraction of belonging you waveringly
feel; feelings passed lingering.
Air possesses limitations yet
is free for you between the strangers
serious minds beneath twilight
maybe they will turn and try to
pretend; pretence is their vice.
Words mingle intangibly yet spark,
human casualties die at their flame but
the phoenix flies time and time again
as it carries the burden through you to
find; finding your breaking point
and never loving you any less.