Conflict Transformation

A deeper more life-giving way of seeing conflict…

“Life-giving opportunities: The word life-giving applied to a conflict situation reminds us of conflict transformationseveral things. On one hand, the language suggests that life gives us conflict, that conflict is a natural part of human experence. On the other, it assumes that conflict creates life like the pulsating heart of the body creates rhythmic blood flow which keeps us alive and moving.

“Conflict flows from life. As I have emphasized above rather than seeing conflict as a threat, we can understand it as providing opportunities to grow and to increase understanding of ourselves, of others, of our social structures. Conflicts in relationship at all levels ae the way life helps us to stop, assess, and take notice. One way to truly know our humanness is to recognize the gift of conflict in our lives. Without it, life would be a monotonously flat topograhphy of sameness and our relationship would be woefully superficial.

“Conflict also creates life: through conflict we respond, innovate, and change. Conflict can be understood as the motor of change, that which keeps relatiohships and social structures honest, alive, and dynamically responsive to human needs, aspirations, and growth.” (p. 18)

Conflict transformation will be only utopian if it is unable to be responsive to real-life challenges, needs, and realities.

A transformational view engages two paradoxes as the place where action is pursued and raises these questions:

How do we address conflict in ways that reduce violence and increase justice in human relationships?

And how do we develop a capacity for constructive, direct, face-to-face interaction and, at the same time, address systemic and structural changes?

(from The Little Book of Conflict Transformation by John Paul Lederach in the series The Little Books of Justice & Peacemaking)

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