Thursday, March 30, 2017

Discord in Society

The Korean word for conflict, discord, complications, dissensions, difficulty is made up of two Chinese characters each meaning a type of vine. When they are entangled, one with the another, we have discord and complications, not easily resolved. A college professor who is an authority in the field of social discord gives the readers of the Kyeongyang magazine an understanding of the reasons we see so much discord in society.

Koreans use the word mostly with mental conflicts, psychological difficulties but the writer stresses it is much broader in meaning. When people are interacting with each other both individually or in groups, differences of understanding cause conflict.

Asians have a tendency to work with the internal emotions that arise and work to resolve them with the cultivation of the mind. In the West, coming to a peaceful resolution with the other or others is central. Needed is a concern for both.

The background for these problems may be expressed by differences, needs, perceptions and values.

In the workplace, if another worker enters the workforce at the same time and does the same work and we have a difference in pay, we see this as discrimination and a reason for conflict.

When a person seeks to satisfy their needs we have the possible infringement of another person's possessions or rights and a reason for conflict. "After three days without food, there is no one who will not steal." This Korean proverb shows the lack of what we need can lead to conflict.

In the same situation and circumstances because of our bodily characteristics, experiences, education etc. we perceive reality in different ways. A teacher can say to a student: Why did you act in that way? One student can see it as concern and another as a reprimand.

Values can affect the way we approach a subject.  One may have a value that shows respect more for an older person than for the young. Some would take this as discrimination. These four human qualities do not cause the conflict but are in the background.

Facts and data that are not accepted in the same way may cause conflict. Different understandings, structures, relationships, values, (convictions, religion, philosophies) and our very identity:(our appearance, race etc.) maybe the reason for conflict.

Knowing the reason for the conflict can solve the difficulty. If facts are the problem we work to uncover them in an objective way which will decrease the area of discord. Misunderstandings over the distribution of material goods, fairness and rationality all have to be spelled out clearly and with transparency.

Relationship discord needs the easiness of dialogue to remove the problems. Values and identity have taken a great deal of time to form and finding areas of compromise, difficult. Rather than looking for compromise it is better to recognize the existence of the other, respect and avoid the points of difference, which maybe the easiest way towards a solution.