What comes to mind when you hear the word conflict? I asked a group of young people recently and they came up with words such as ‘War’, ‘Syria’, ‘ISIS’, ‘Politics’, ‘Brexit’. Our world seems to be in a state of turmoil. Almost every day we experience headlines which reinforce the conflict between parties, countries and people: “Republican rivals spar over IS fight”, “PM faces fury after hinting at ‘transitional’ Brexit deal”. Programmes like ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ see ratings soar when violent arguments erupt in camp and the TV producers seem to go out of their way to create an atmosphere conducive to causing conflict. What examples do our leaders and celebrities set around dealing with conflict? Mostly we seem to be exposed to the hurling of insults at the opposition, a slinging match of personal hate as emotions run high.
What about closer to home – how do we deal with the conflict that arises in our own relationships: the times when our families drive us to distraction or our friends end up doing something that really hurts us? Do we end up mimicking what we see in the media – hurling insults, using personal criticism as a way of ‘winning’ our side of the argument? We look at the politicians and easily criticise the way they handle emotive disagreement – demeaning the other person rather than promoting their point of view. But how different is our own approach to conflict?
At Shine, we talk about the importance of listening to others to try and understand their point of view even if we don’t agree with it. We show the optical illusion picture shown on the thumbnail to this blog and enjoy the comments from the girls as they shout out adamantly ‘It’s an old woman!’ ‘No, it’s a young woman!’. Look carefully, the picture can, of course, be viewed in both ways.
It’s often the same when we find ourselves in conflict with others; we are seeing things from a different perspective and neither is necessarily wrong. So, Shine supporters and Shine girls alike, be different. Be a group of people who handle conflict better than the example we are seeing in the media. We want to be a generation able to eloquently share our point of view whilst seeking to understand that of others. This will not only positively impact our lives but also the lives of the ones we love most.
I didn’t tell you all the words the young people came up with when I asked them, what comes to mind when they hear the word ‘conflict’. In addition to those words shared above they also said ‘improvement’, ‘ideas’ ‘development’. Conflict is not necessarily bad – it's how we deal with it that matters.