Thursday, July 3, 2014


Conflict is a part of life. We see it in the family, village, society, church and the world. Most of the time we are passive spectators  and learn to live with conflict. Kim Young Ai, who represents the Saeurinuri Peace Movement writes about peace-building. Recently, she successfully completed a three-day Ganghwa-Gyodong Peace Leadership Camp. She has made a study of how to resolve conflicts, and the leadership program was a concrete expression of one of her dreams. Conflict resolution is now understood by many as conflict transformation. Conflict is an opportunity to come to a new understanding of the problem.

Conflict is not only something negative but can help us to grow, help us to transform the way we live. We first have to know the context of the problem. In Korea, the opposite of peace is war: the cessation of conflict, factionalism, fighting. Many of our conflicts end with victory for the strong, with a legal victory, or a cultural victory of a religious way of thinking, but those who lose  usually do not change and often the anger makes them resort to revenge. Peace is when the victors and losers can accept the results. Working together for peace means that we already have a kind of peace.

She mentions first the transformation of the conflict. This requires, first of all, the awareness of the conflict and its reason.There is no reason to blame oneself for conflict we have conflict because we are social animals. We have to understand what  the conflict is before we can hope to solve the problem.

The second step  is to analyze the conflict:  see it objectively and  without emotions; accept the others as our equal, and search for the roots of the conflict. The conflict could have historical roots or cultural roots. It may have to do with authority, material goods or health. Usually the roots are like those of a tree with a variety of reasons, a composite of reasons. We need also to know what are the results of the conflict and what it is doing to us. Understanding the conflict, the reasons for the conflict, and the influence that it is having on us  are necessary for the transformation we desire.

Thirdly, we need to have plans and policies to overcome the discord that we experience. The transformation of the conflict is many faceted. Compromise, concession and negotiation are all part of the process. The process does not only depend on practice and skills, but a need to make  the process a natural  human one. This will take a great deal of time, but the beginning is important and as the Koreans say, to begin is to already be half way to our goal.

A great sadness is that many do not think anything is possible.They have given up and  feel it is hopeless.  Many are willing to live with the discord and inability to communicate, which is a great tragedy for that is not what Christians are called to do. Theresa ends her words with a reminder that Christians with the analysis of the conflict and meditation, and  our continual spiritual training; we should be familiar with much of what is required for the transformation of  conflict.

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