Conflict causes harm to both the powerful and the powerless
During the past 14 years, 41 Australian soldiers have died either in Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq or in the Afghanistan War (2001-2014). Hundreds more have been tragically maimed or scarred. Many returned troopers struggle with post traumatic stress, whilst others have to rediscover life without one or two of their limbs. They are clearly victims as are the thousands of victims in the Middle East with sad tales. However, whilst the troopers suffer, so too, do many of their leaders.
Megan Stack refers to the story of Ibrahim’s intended sacrifice of his son Ishmael to show how at the root of much of the violence in the Middle East lies a biblical story of sacrifice. The blood and violence, she believes, spreads to include many victims. This sacrifice is the centrepiece of the religious ceremony of Eid-al-Adha; however, upon God’s last minute orders, Ibrahim slaughters a ram instead of his son, Ishmael. (103); Stack parallels this slaughter with the suicide bomber and the typical annual ritualistic slaughter of the cow. The blood that seeps through the cracks on the pavement becomes a metaphor of the cruelty and violence that contagiously spreads through the Middle East and stains everyone involved. This proves her point that “violence is a reprint of itself, an endless copy.”
Past and present soldiers, such as Uncle John, suffer the long-term effects of violence. Uncle John is typical of many soldiers who return home with post-traumatic stress disorder. Stack draws attention to her Uncle John’s war experiences in Beirut. He survived the war, but did not survive the battle. When the bomb in Beirut exploded, 305 people died around him, but John made it back to New York, but few years later shot himself in the head and Megan attended the funeral. This was her first exposure to the battle scars of war which become a predominant theme throughout her journalistic experiences in the war conflicts in the Middle East. She illustrates just how difficult it is to survive the war and often the psychological battles become more horrendous even than the physical. Likewise, Megan survives numerous wars as a correspondent, but it takes its toll.
Likewise, many in a position of power suffer long-term damage. For example, Major John Cantwell was on track for Head of Defence, but returns home, suffering from survivor guilt. Major John General Cantwell was on track to become Chief of Army in the Defence Department. However, he was so severely traumatised by his 10-year involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan that upon his return to Australia he found himself in a psychiatric ward rather than at the top of the Defence Department. In his new book, Exit Wounds, he details his struggle to come to terms with his grief, pain and suffering. Nowadays, he offers counselling services to members in the Defence forces who likewise suffer emotional distress in the line of duty.
Is it possible to escape the carnage?
Many self-serving individuals often seek to exploit conflict for their own advantage. For example, Abu Hakam (an ex-fighter and refugee now in Turkey), was a member of the Free Syrian Army who became disillusioned after he found out that a leading general had misused funds. Hakam says he even wanted to change sides to ISIL, because the general took more than $1 million to renovate his house and bribe his way to safety. The funds had been donated by sponsors in the Qatar to buy weapons and equipment for the FSA brigades to fight against the Syrian Government. (The Age, 7/10/14)
Some also become immune to the damage and mercilessly kill in the name of power. Saddam Hussein and his henchmen slaughtered the Shiites in 1991 after the insurrection. Just like the cow that is slaughtered during the ceremony of El… so too the dead bodies of the Shiites filled the mass graves and littered the streets.
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Return to Summary page: Conflict
CONFLICT CAUSES HARM TO BOTH THE POWERFUL AND THE POWERLESS
1. Generally, conflict harms the powerless in disproportionate ways because they have little chance to pursue their causes, their interests and often their principles. (victims and martyrs)
2. Contrastingly, those in a position of power are often protected from the worst consequences of conflict because of their status, their financial interests, their access to the strings of power and their social networks.
3. During times of conflict, victims suffer either physically or psychologically, or often both. They may be excluded, scorned and humiliated or even tortured. For example disabled comedian Stella Young was often singled out for ridicule because of her difference and she was the butt of crude jokes.
4. Identify a person who is both powerful and powerless: or he occupies a powerful position but becomes a victim because of the choices/ convictions… (galileo/ Uncle John/ the lieutenant/ Megan Stack)
4. Sometimes, the perpetrators may also be harmed owing to the loss of their conscience; loss of respect and dignity. Many are diminished through their harmful actions.
Megan Stack – the Israeli – spike in domestic violence…
- As Kendall Hill states, when thinking about the tormentor of his childhood school days, “maybe it’s the bullies who get screwed up most”. When they look back on the misery they caused in their formative years, they must really hate themselves”.
- However, IN SOME cases the victims may strengthen and become more resilient – in the long term they may benefit from their difficult encounters, relationships and experiences.
However, in some cases the victims may strengthen and become more resilient – in the long term they may benefit from their difficult encounters, relationships and experiences.
Conflict of conscience can be just as difficult as conflict between people.
1. Conflict of conscience: people often endure different loyalty demands: people want to be loyal to people / groups/ the state but they may be compromising their principles ; many of the Iraqis who worked for the Americans felt a sense of guilt – they went against patriotic principles (This involves people i.e. just as difficult)
2. Conflict of conscience : often acting according to one’s conscience (and principles) can exact a heavy price – individuals often endanger their own lives because of their principles (Atwar Bahjat) (Just as or more difficult: primarily involves individual but assumes relationships with the state and with others)
3. Conscience: many individuals have a deep-seated, instinctive sense of justice and they are often placed in situations that betray their sense of equality or fairness. For eg. the guard/ soldier deeply regrets (is ashamed of) the brutal treatment suffered by the Palestinian lady which he realises is unfair/unjust and the treatment undermines human rights. (Definitely involves with people)
4. Etc.. Conscience: of the powerful: Megan as the powerful outsider: uses informers/translators to help her with stories/ with evidence; tells the world what is happening; but she is also endangering the lives of those people who help her (Iraqi)
Why conflict occurs is less important than how it affects people.
1. See Conscience above:
2. Affects people adversely because they compromise or betray their principles or people (different loyalty structures) (the soldier who goes to war thinking that he is fighting evil; fighting terrorists and spreading democracy soon finds that these values are selective , hypocritical and just suit the government’s political agenda
3. Make decisions that might harm themselves or others..
4. People are often traumatised by conflict… – traumatic and unpredictable memories/ phobias; ongoing sense of hostility and animosity; deep sense of helplessness and anxiety… omnipotence…
Trauma – soldier stories…
Trauma can kill and destroy; trauma can also lead to resilience..
We grow through conflict
Ideally, we grow through conflict, but this is not always the case. We are often overwhelmed or destroyed by conflict:
- Sometimes the situation is beyond our control
- Robert Walker, was a typical indigenous prisoner, who died in custody at the age of 25 years of age after slitting his wrists in a cry of pain.
- Other times we do have a degree of control but lack the life-skills, confidence and resilience to deal with it…
However, adversity frequently becomes a test of character and often teaches individuals resilience (“our enemy is our guru”); during a crisis or testing times individuals are often forced to think about their priorities or defend their principles and values.
- Importance of adversity and obstacles: Whilst friends and parents are critical, our enemies also challenge us to think about who we are as people and force us to think about our views, values, and path in life…
- We are forced to develop critical life skills and often fuelled by a determination to succeed: See Fiona Scott Norman’s quotes about adversity/obstacles – include people stories such as Stella Young’s.
- Adversity may lead to strong surrogate friendships; strengthens alternative friendship patterns.
See two typical paragraphs
Staying true to core values is the best way to deal with conflict
- It is often important for the individual to stay true to their values to protect their integrity, their dignity and their pride. By staying true to one’s principles, one gains respect and protects one’s honour. (Staying true to values Mark Donaldson)
- Despite often adverse outcomes, it still appears that people maintain their integrity by defending their values. (John Proctor, the farmer, Mrs Wing)
- Sometimes staying true to our core values may inflame (exacerbate the conflict).
- Sometimes we need to compromise our values and choose an expedient outcome to deal with conflict in a way that suits all the stakeholders.
- Often during times of conflict, we may bend our principles to protect another. We may act out of character and undermine our “core values”. Much depends upon the context (Sister Wilhemina and Goody Proctor)
- There are times, too, when we bend our principles simply to stay alive: eg. soldiers… Tom Williams
- Contrastingly, those who do bend their true values for convenient reasons, often lose their humanity, their pride and their dignity. (Galileo is personally disappointed in his situation; he shamed/betrayed his name and his profession; Freedom fighter who exploits the cause for financial gain.)
New and challenging ideas inevitably lead to conflict
- What are the ideas and how do they lead to conflict/ tension/ rivalry ?: The rivalry with the church – resentment/ challenge…
- Darwin and predecessors – evolution – also a challenge to the church
- Tension – can lead to regress in society but also renewal and progress
- Andrea – “ethics” – ability to finish the theory
Conflict is born of ignorance and fear
Ignorance born of religious dogma/ spiritual arrogance/ biased misinterpretations of spiritual texts; Sunni and Shi’ia conflict; Sunni/ISIL desire to return to the medieval Caliphate of Islam dominance; Atwar Bahjat
1. We often fear change and the introduction of new ideas and proposals. Change can challenge and undermine the status quo and be a threat to one’s power base: (Father Musala, Father Greg Reynolds). Galileo and the church
3. Groups often fear a diversity of views and values: they fear a challenge to their power base. this can lead to hypocrisy and double dealing
Personal sense/ family sense: Individuals are often challenged by the power of minority or alternative groups. For example, as women or minority ethnic groups gain their independence or are granted more power, there is often a backlash.
- Laxmi: men’s fear of rejection; fear and ignorance of women’s rights. – and Perkins (Australians ignorance of cultural ancestry)
4. These are not the only causes of conflict.
5. Equally knowledge can help to overcome the ignorance and quell the fear.
The struggle for power is at the core of conflict
- New ideas may set up a conflict between the powerful authorities and its individuals who challenge the status quo
Religious/social/intellectual… the church was extremely powerful in the 1600s… and their power coincided with social and intellectual power.
Galileo’s theories challenge the supremacy and the authority of the church. The church believes that such theories have the potential to disturb the social order and thereby threaten all such reformers and social and intellectual leaders to perpetuate the established views of the church. They adhere to Aristotle’s theory of the universe that … rather than the heliocentric model discovered by Copernicus and developed by Galileo.
- Church : conflict plays out between the victims of abuse and the priests/bishops in charge of the church… struggle for power – victims have finally got a forum to air their grievances..
Challenge to their authority … in a different sense to Galileo’s theories.
- Ideological and political struggle for power – Napoleon (Stalin) and Snowball (Trotsky’s) fight for power. Stalin is fiercely envious and opposed to Trotsky’s views – sabotages them … in order to entrench his own rule. Snowball/Trotsky – expansionist ideas… about communism.
The impact of conflict lingers on long after the conflict itself.
- From an individual point of view, (unpredictable) unforeseen emotional and psychological impacts long after the resolution – cantwell – continuing trauma (Physical (laxmi) Psychological Stack Fowler)
- From a national, political perspective (collective scale) , conflicts also linger (Crime rates…Resentment – anger… distrust – paranoia.. breeding ground for revenge… drone… terrorists have returned to take revenge…)
- We can resolve conflict – personal and collective level – by showing good attitudes – forgiveness compassion –gaspard – Rwanda .. stack…
Conflict is often the seed of another
- From a personal individual perspective – filled with desire for revenge because of grief and loss… from one political outcome… revenge.. is worse
- Collective political perspective… one solution – can lead to another
- Narrow-minded – arrogant – self serving –breeds distrust and suspicion
- Can we solve it… through forgiveness, compassion… Dalai Lama ..
At the core of conflict lies a power imbalance.
An individual‘s true character is shown when they encounter conflict.
Arthur Miller’s quote from Timebends.
Indeed, conflict gives us a chance to test our true mettle, to prioritise our views and values and think about what is important to us and who we are. However, is this always the case? Sometimes, depending upon the severity of the conflict it can crush us as individuals. Does such a situation provide an accurate insight into who we are, or is it just an aberration? Sometimes conflict sheds light on another perspective of our character, a repressed part of our personality, a part that may or may not tell us who we truly are.
True character = survival at all cost; often we reveal a selfish streak; self protection. (Often when faced with conflict, we would do anything to survive. Self protection often arises because of the primordial “flight-fight response” which is an ancient mind-body reaction and in such circumstances our “true” self seems to be taking appropriate measures to survive.)
True character = sometimes we reveal a compassionate streak and resist the need to act solely in our bests interests. We may seek to protect a loved one (Other times, people may perform extraordinary feats of courage. Sometimes people endanger their own lives to save a loved one.)
True character = good person, doing the right thing, sticking to our principles: Sometimes conflict strengthens our resolve and reveals our strength, determination and dignity. Sometimes it makes us more determined, simply because ….
True character = changes.. go with the moral imperative; protect the common good/ get involved/ change one’s priorities (Alternatively, conflict may force us to change our beliefs… our priorities for the common good. Whilst Fowler the main characters in G G’s The Quiet American is no D L or N Mandela, he rises to the challenge when confronted with the carnage in Place d g. Formerly indifferent and He seems to realize the extent of G Heng’s comment, “to be human one has to take a stance…” seeing the baby in the lap…
Coincidently, Bradley Manning was also described by his defence lawyer as “naïve… .” but good intentioned to reveal his newfound insights and change of heart, when as a 21-22 year army private stationed in Iraq he believed that the United States was betraying its mission… published … exposed 700,000 classified documents handed over to Wikileaks; showing culpable acts perpetrated by the US army against Iraqi civilians..
True character (?) = buried emotions; disappointment, regret, shame, anger / uncharacteristic or unpredictable Conflict may give us an insight into smothered or suppressed aspects of our personality.. Such emotions or thoughts may be “true”, but they may also be uncharacteristic… It may reveal hidden or buried emotions or thoughts… This is certainly the case when M J C returned home from 10 year war service. …. Consequences – grief, horror, guilt… he feels guilty that he has his limbs in tact..
True character???? = uncharacteristic response out of desperation – breaking point (Sometimes, conflict may not necessarily reveal a true picture of who we are. What if we are suffering extreme duress?)
Or sometimes we might act in contradictory ways. There is after all a suggestion that Fowler conveniently eliminated his rival. He is desperate to apologise but know that he never will and is doomed to live with a sense of shame and disappointment. In such circumstances, we may act in contradictory ways, that do not lead to the “truth” about ourselves. These become apparent when we are forced to make choices or are faced with dilemmas. Often the decisions we make are an indication of our priorities in life. Sometimes these decisions might be contradict other aspects of ourselves. Much depends upon the factors at stake.
One conflict often contains the seeds of another.
Depending upon the nature of conflict it may escalate from personal to public or from public to personal problems. Also the manner in which conflict is dealt with and resolved also has an influence on the outcome . In such situations it is satisfactorily resolved and hence solved, but in other cases it smolders and often leads to other problems.
In times of conflict, no one is completely innocent.
The Lieutenant? and Uncle John – following orders:
- People, especially those in a vulnerable or weak position, may be innocent, because the conflict occurs despite themselves . Such people have no power to influence the course of events. (Contrastingly, in such situations there are clear perpetrators..) Gorg Ali. / missionaries (Giles Corey, innocent baby and the mother sitting in Place Garnier)
- Subjected to religious or political witchhunt – do not contrbitue to their tragedy… artists during mccarthy style witchhunts, giles corey and Rebecca nurse.
- Clear perpetrators (Taliban, Abigail/ by inference and association – Danforth and Parris)
- Some people may appear innocent, because of their goodness, but even they may contribute to the conflict in unforeseen and or unexpected ways. – or their actions undermine their innocence Elizabeth Proctor – “I kept a cold house”
- Likewise, in times of war, people, like Alden Pyle has good intentions, but through his interference the violence escalates. (Afghanistan)
Conflict can strengthen our values.
- Conflict can force us to prioritise our values and be selective. (dilemma – 2 x good) Elizabeth Proctor
- Often when confronted with life-and-death choices, our instinct for survival is so strong that it might force us to compromise our values. Francesico Schettino, Costa Corcinia..
- Other times, we instinctively helps others because it is the right thing to do. Mrs Wing procured the quinine to help save Mrs Roberts and was burned to death by the Japanese guards
- Sadly, though we may not offer a helping hand because… we do have to make choices that may undermine and compromise our value system.; Good Samaritan values – and often we do are reluctant to help others because we have heard terrible stories
Conflict occurs because of ideological and religious differences.
Give examples of religious/ideological differences and show how and why these lead to conflict
1. (in opinion) Often differences in opinion, and specifically in scientific and religious views and values lead to conflict and cause a great deal of hatred, resentment and hostility between individuals and between individuals and the state.
2. Often individuals have different views and values than the prevailing governments and institutions and this leads to conflict with powerbrokers and those in a position of political or religious authority.
This often occurs when people or groups in society feel threatened because of change, or because they arrogantly or high-mindedly cling to (outdated) views.
The Church, Danforth, Saudia Arabia… (Often powerbrokers cling selfishly or hypocritically to their views, values and opinions in order to cling to power and oppress others)
(individual versus state)
3. Often individuals challenge the state on the basis of religious and ideological views and values that they believe may inhibit personal and individual rights and freedoms.
4. Often these ideological differences between individuals and the state can lead to split loyalty structures…
Galileo / Andrea – conflict in conscience..
Others have to seek compromises.. (Raul…driver/ teacher/translator) ..
5. If ideological differences lead to conflict, then dealing with these differences can help to solve/ overcome the conflict.
Atwar Bajat / Hale… Andrea
SOMETIMES JUSTICE / (TRUTH) IS A CASUALTY OF CONFLICT.
- Many innocent people are persecuted during times of conflict. Rugmaker/ Taliban/ massacre; China’s treatment of the dissidents.
- Many innocent people die during times of conflict – often because of powerful interest groups.
- Quiet American – innocent people die in conflicts .. war in Vietnam as featured in Quiet American, reveals that both justice and truth are casualties of the conflict. As the age editor once said, “truth is put in a stretcher and retired during times of war’ ; American soldier who fires on the innocent victims.
- Sometimes, justice is the goal of conflict, and often it is achieved, even though it comes at a cost, and even though people have to wage a difficult struggle;
- Other times, the issues are so complex that it is often difficult to clearly decide whether justice has been achieved or not. Much depends upon one’s perspective, one’s stake in the issue and the repercussions.; Pyle’s death.. .he was well intentioned and so his death could be seen as an injustice.
- Fowler would see it is an act of “justice” because he believed he was exercising too much control
- Truth as a casualty – Mary Warren in the dock – “do what is right and no harm will come to thee” ; J P ourges her to tell the truth.
Conflict can have unpredictable consequences
- Conflict often challenges our views and values and may cause us to make changes despite ourselves.
- Fowler is desperate to detach himself from the conflict, but he unwittingly / despite himself becomes involved after first-hand experiences. He also kills his friend, which is both a “necessary act” but a dubious act of self-interest..
- Conflict can lead to surprising discoveries about ourselves and others that lead to unexpected change … and repercussions.
- Paradise Road : the women group together and stage the vocal orchestra and defy the guards.
Conflict always repeats
- There are always repercussions and consequences of conflict. Sometimes it is repeated literally; other times, there are different manifestations of the conflict. It may be repeated in unpredictable or ambiguous ways.
- Sometimes the conflict does have repetitive occurrences.
- The war has been constant in Afghanistan – the warring factions have changed but the conflict , the discrimination and the persecution continues… Pashtun, communists and now the democratic allies.
- Witches kept finding scapegoats; Miller would say that the McCarthy trials repeated the witchhunt. There are numerous witchhunts throughout history – each repeating similar elements of persecution, fear and hysteria
- Conflict may change, but aspects are repeated
- Fowler – didn’t want to get involved.. his stance against Pyle has repercussions and is repeated in his personal conflict and guilt towards Pyle
SOME CONFLICTS ARE UNAVOIDABLE
- If we take a principled stance – or need to fight against injustice
- Conflict is unavoidable if we think we are automatically in the right… Danforth stakes his belief in the
- girls and sews the seeds of confrontation…
- Butler … ‘there is no mistake so great as that of being always right” – Danforth’s error.
- E P realises this when she protects her husband’s good name in court.
LIFE IS RARELY WITHOUT CONFLICT; IT IS HOW WE RESOLVE IT THAT MATTERS
Indira Gandhi once said, “you can’t shake hands with a clenched fist”, which alludes to the attitude of stakeholders and the manner in which they resolve conflict. Those who are unwilling to negotiate and pursue a hard-line approach often exacerbate the conflict and it breeds fear, resentment and brutality. On the other hand, those who insist on the truth or show honesty often resolve the conflict in morally correct ways. Whichever way conflict is resolved, it usually has an effect on the outcome and on people’s lives.
- Many people seek to resolve conflict by sticking to the truth. (justice) … truth and beauty. Belief that the end justifies the means. A belief in interference…
- Sometimes we seek to resolve conflict in ways that are impractical or simply serve to escalate the violence. Often in such circumstances people’s suffering often gets worse.. Pyle’s theory about spreading democracy – the end justifies the means. He overlooks the fact that their mission is to interfere in the affairs of another country. Greene suggests that we cannot solve conflict through interference and meddling; in America’s case it has only exacerbated the conflict. The means do not justify the end (cannot solve conflict through violence)
- Many people believe, like Indira Gandhi, that we must seek to resolve conflict through compromise and negotiation and most importantly through peaceful means. Queen’s handshake with Martin McGuiness, Sinn Fein member of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government is a literal representation of Gandhi’s figurative statement.
- In order to find long-lasting solutions to conflict, it is important to see the issue from many sides and often make compromises. It is not productive to see conflict from our own self-interested perspective.
- It is often necessary to find similarities between stakeholders and try to reconcile our differences. We must not erect artificial barriers between “us” and “them” which exacerbates conflict and shows a narrow-minded perspective to resolving conflict. In harming our enemy, we are harmed.
- Us versus them – divisive and confrontational/ focusing on differences) Frequently people take a hard-line approach to resolving conflict because they believe that this is the best way to assert their control and authority. Often this approach leads to violence and injustice; George Bush – either with us or with them… (terrorists)
- Many people, believe, that no matter how great the differences, it is important that we stick to the truth and resolve conflict in a just and fair manner. Many honourable citizens in Salem adhere to the truth and refuse to confess to the claim that they were trafficking with the devil. They believe that the truth will always triumph if we adhere to our moral principles.
- Often people are generous enough to recognize the error of their judgment. Such people can help to resolve conflict through honesty and wisdom, especially when they realize that they have made a mistake. Reverend Hale
- Listen to other perspectives; broad-minded… admit our flaws/ errors (focusing on similarities) In order to find long-lasting solutions to conflict, it is important to see the issue from many sides and often make compromises. It is not productive to see conflict from our own self-interested perspective. It is often necessary to find similarities between stakeholders and try to reconcile our differences.
It is difficult to be a bystander in times of conflict.
1. Some individuals prioritise survival; the flight fight mechanisms is very powerful and often survival is the most important thing; often we instinctively ensure our own survival
- The soldier who prioritises survival
- However, we must also consider that the leader’s survival may be critical to the group’s survival. (another soldier/captain story)
- Whilst the flight-fight mechanism if often an instinctive human response, some people are paralysed by the sheer velocity of the trauma, violence or offence. It leads to an overwhelming sense of hopelessness (the Palestinian psychiatrist’s views)
2. To be human, we often rush to the aid of someone in need. We feel the need to help; It is human nature to get involved; our involvement and response reflects who we are and our values (conscience – if we betray our conscience we are diminished)
- However, sometimes we get involved and pay the ultimate price
3. Damned if we do and damned and if we don’t
- Why should we risk our own lives? We are the ones who are sacrificed. A lady stops to help and gets stabbed herself… these days it is often hard to be the good Samaritan – it seems that the good individual pays too high a price…
We find who we are through the conflict we face
How we act in times of adversity can reveal much about our personality; level of resilience; defence of values under pressure.
The more severe the more dangerous the conflict – the more tested we are.
1. Someone who has the courage of their convictions… Daughter’s faith is tested… she was warned that there would government soldiers at Kabbala that day… but still she went – I admire her faith; her determination and her convictions …
2. Sometimes we triumph; sometimes we crumble… – set up a compare and contrast:
(Mother’s character – how mother survives… finds a way to cope… photograph –
I know she is dead, but I suppress this knowledge. I keep looking knowing that I will never find her…
Father – crumbles)
3. Strangely, we often act out of character or do uncharacteristic or unexpected things or act in a contradictory manner. Let me tell you a story about …
4. Conflict can shape us in unforeseen ways.
Conflict is always present when progress occurs.
At the heart of conflict is fear
- Quotes/ anecdotes… introduction… In her book Freedom from Fear, Aung San Suu Kyi states that it is fear that corrupts people, not power. She refers to the fear of losing power, or losing face – or even losing life.
- Accordingly, she is an incredible example of what can happen when a world leader elevates their cause beyond the petty power play of politics, and takes a humanistic approach to life.
- Whilst being caught up in conflict, it is easy for our emotions to turn to fear. We often catch ourselves wondering about the future. We fear the unknown, we fear differences. There is nothing worse than feeling disappointment, so our minds are often consumed by fear.
- Fear often makes people act in uncharacteristic ways or forces them to make choices that place them in moral dilemmas.
- Fear often pervades communities during times of social upheaval and change, which causes a great deal of conflict among groups in society which also leads to fear of revenge and promotes uncertainty. In such situations, it is common for individuals to clash with the authorities. In The Crucible Arthur Miller shows that witchhunts are often typical in societies that are undergoing change that threatens the status quo. (The “balance has yet to be struck between order and freedom.”) Those in power like Governor Danforth and Reverend Parris are fearful of the erosion of their authority. They hold reductive views about good and evil exploit the accusations of witchcraft so as to recover their influence in society and entrench their theocratic rule. Parris is annoyed that many good people in Salem no longer come to church which threatens his authority and influence; He is also shocked because he fears the consequences to his reputation if it becomes known that his daughter, Betty, and his niece, Abigail, are involved in witchcraft. His reputation is already fragile because there are complaints in the town about the way he worships. He knows that “there is a faction in this parish sworn to drive me from my post … they will destroy me”
- Contrarily, fear of death makes people act in uncharacteristic ways or forces them to blame others for their mistakes and certainties. People often look for scapegoats to settle their fears. The girls fear the consequences of getting caught and being accused of conjuring up the devil. They are spotted dancing in the forest sitting around the cauldron. Abigail is drinking chicken blood and the other girls are throwing frogs into the cauldron. The girls are aware that a person was hanged for witchcraft in Boston. Mary Warren is a typical character who shows how fear dominates her response to the conflict; she follows the dominant voices in society so as to seek protection from retribution or blame; fear of death (fear of damnation / witchcraft is a hanging offence to make people conform, and also fear of Danforth). This fuels the allegations in the first place.
- It is not surprising that Miller based his book on the fear of communism during the 1940s and 1950s, which was also a time of social upheaval. There was a great deal of unrest caused by the clash between communist and democratic countries. Joseph McCarthy, an American Senator, made a public accusation that more than two hundred “card-carrying” communists had infiltrated the United States government, which sparked a vendetta against many activists and artists, who were accused of being a communist. There is also a great deal of fear in the west about terrorism especially following the September 11 attacks and the subsequent “war on terror”. This year, the American government set up a congressional committee to investigate the radicalisation of American Muslims. They are calling Muslims into testify who have been suspected of radical terrorist activities in countries such as Yemen or Somalia. Civil rights activists say that the hearings are persecuting Muslims and targeting those who may do not follow mainstream views and values. They say it is another McCarthy-style probe.
- Similarly in The Secret River, the white settlers’ fear is born of ignorance and intolerance as well as cultural misunderstanding.
- Likewise, during the current climate of unprecedented change due to development of technologies, many individuals around the world are clashing with government authorities because of a desire for greater human rights and democracy. In America during the 1950s when civil rights champions like Rosa Parks refused to offer her seat to a white person. Fear pervaded society because of the unjust discrimination against the negro population. The Chinese government, like Governor Danforth seeks to entrench its authority by oppressing any calls for freedom.
In situations of conflict, neutrality is impossible.
Often, it is possible to remain neutral in times of conflict. Just walk past and ignore the turmoil or the incident and you can be assured that you will not get involved so long as you have not given any personal details or left a personal trace.
- Often it is not only possible but also desirable not to get involved. (Greene’s critique of Pyle suggests that neutrality is better. Often interference inflames the situation.
- This is initially Fowler’s attitude and in some cases it may be better not to meddle. He understands that theories and concepts are often meaningless to people who live in fear, who lack food and shelter, and who do not enjoy basic human rights. Wars don’t solve the problem and according to Fowler, nor does the concept of the Third Force.
- Greene critiques Pyle’s position and shows that it is wrong to meddle in the affairs of another country, especially if the super powers are misguided, naïve or simplistic. General The misleads them and exploits their support for his own purposes.
- Neutrality is preferable to the actions of those who simplistically believe that America can win “The East for Democracy”.
- Depending upon the situation it is important to sacrifice one’s neutrality and take a stance. Much depends upon the situation, the people involved and what is at stake. Some people do find it difficult to remain a bystander when it does affect them morally and personally. As the Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Similarly, General Heng states, to remain “human” people have to take a stance; Burke’s comments… If we fail to protect others and fail to care, then we are personally diminished and perhaps for this reason, Greene depicts Fowler as self-destructing – his personal life is disintegrating as well as a reflection of his inability to care. (such an attitude is morally indefensible – often suffer personal consequences) Fowler comes to understand that as Desmond Tutu also said, “If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
- Also in our everyday life, there are many examples of conflict and it is important to take a stance and confront situations of injustice and help those who are being persecuted. …. The Editor of the Age, reminds us that we all have an obligation to stamp out discrimination and situations where people suffer injustice and inequality. They cite the examples of Nicky Winmar and Michael Long who took a lone stance against racism and prejudice suffered by aborigines. The Editor (10/6/12) commends the actions of Collingwood’s player Dale Thomas because he supported Joel Wilkinson when he suffered racial discrimination on the football field – in fact twice in 13 games. AS the Editor states, it is important to show moral courage and to take a stand against discrimination and confront prejudice. “Only if we stop being passive bystanders can we make everyone think twice about discriminatory attitudes.” (Otherwise the effect is to “embolden the culprit and isolate the victim”.)
- Often we must remain neutral, even though there are problems. Although we may be morally concerned about the plight of others, sometimes it is not only “difficult” to remain a bystander, but sometimes necessary. Sometimes, the conflict escalates if people get involved. Other times the costs are too high to pay?
- Evidently, sometimes we get involved and it is to our detriment, proving that some conflicts are better if people do not interfere.
It is the victims of conflict that show us what is important
(obvious victims… and what they stand for) Badawi – withstands incredible pain and torture to draw attention to the importance of freedom fo speech and of expression. – like many heroic soldiers who endanger their lives…
Victims of war – show that dignity, justice, respect are all important. – pscyh. Compromise is important; change; fight; resilence.. .
Less obvious victims – perpetrators who suffer in guilt-ridden ways.. (Lieut) Hale power…
Life is rarely without conflict; it is how we resolve it that matters.
Groups and individuals often seek to resolve conflict through aggression and violence.
State: Saudi Arabia seeks to resolve dissent through violence and torture; this reflects the barbarity of the state and its moral poverty – simply perpetuating violence and aggression.
Parallels – the Lieutenant – the violence and aggression of early settlers towards the aborigines
Danforth – representative of the state – using power in aggressive ways
Church – Galileo – (Danforth)… any dissent is immediately suppressed even using violence… cf with inquisition in the middle ages
Individual: – often use aggressive and violent ways – personal lives..
Also sometimes groups or states seek to resolve conflict in ways that contradict their principles or that show double standards… this is counter productive – diminishes one’s moral stature… and does not lead to lasting peace/change or prosperity…
The West’s double standards ; hypocrisy… Every Man
- Confrontation – adopting the high moral ground : the victims who make a sacrifice… ..
- Systems of subterfuge… resistance… the draconian measures of the state… – through avoidance and escape…
… philosophers need to resolve conflict in ways that benefit all parties to the dispute; rise above differences and show tolerance… peace building; forgiveness and reconciliation: Rwandan story – about forgiveness.
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