Of all the ways human beings meet and interact, we only remember the two extremes of love and war. But conflict and alliance are inseparable, interchangeable even in the constant ebb and flow of human engagement. We know that moving forward needs collaboration among the diverse. We throw about platitudes like ‘Opposites attract’, a statement that only focuses on the superficial drama of early meetings. So there is firepower. So what? Without direction, that’s just fireworks that fizzle out in a few breaths, burning oxygen, making it harder for everybody to breathe. Look up to the sky to remember what you are becoming or what you could be. A firework or a cathedral.
Trust? How is that to be built between people primed to see each other as foes? ‘Friendly opponents’ is a temporary white flag one may wave but maybe some differences run too deep for the truce to last very long. And then, it’s back to the stomach of a volcano, combat to death, anything goes. We do this with words now and with silent actions that leave invisible wounds science still can’t heal. We cheat, we snipe, we ghost, we block, we brag. We hold up our perfection as a way to slice the other person’s flaws. And they retaliate, not with swordplay but with a cup of sweetness, already poisoned beforehand. Who bears blame for this war? We may as well live in blood-stained medieval times then, for all that we remember about collaboration, respect and growth.
Love is a taboo word in our times but it’s the only solution proposed in every text, every wise truism, every question asked about how to deal with conflict. Maybe it is an inadequate answer or an outdated one or a silly one but it is the only one. It takes two to start a fight and only one to end it. But maybe you are not strong enough to be that one, maybe the other person isn’t whatever they need to be for it to be more than fireworks. It doesn’t really matter. The rules of engagement are very clear. Either you survive together. Or you both burn.