With all the conflict in the US political election, I thought I would write about unicorns, fairies and conflict resolution. Just for clarification, when I write fairies I mean magical beings like Tinkerbell from Peter Pan. I recently told someone that they looked like a fairy, because they had glitter in their hair, and I got quite the look until I explained to her I have four little girls at home and I meant a fairy as in Tinkerbell.
So, why do we have escalating conflicts? First off, we all have flaws and that is okay. I have flaws. I could start to name them for this article but I am limited to 600 words. The issue that I believe we run into is accepting our flaws for who we are. When I was in Grade 7, I had some “friends” that poked fun at me, and then called me “Red Boehmer” when I lost my temper at them. I could have gone through life with the opinion that I have a temper and it is just who I am. For the record, I did have a temper at that time. What I did was work extremely hard to control my temper. This is not to say that I control my temper 100% of the time (renovations get me to cuss at tools, materials, manufacturers of tools, etc.) but I have decided that I can be better. Occasionally playing hockey brings my temper out, after which I work even harder the next time to control it or take a break. I was raised by my parents to believe that nothing is impossible and I continually seek to improve myself as a person, as a spouse, as a father, etc.
Secondly, we often don’t like to go out of our comfort zone. We find differences and change scary. We have a certain lifestyle that we like to live and if that changes we get scared. We usually end up coming up with ways to villainize others so that we can hate them, thus avoiding change and discomfort altogether. When there is a problem or conflict, we usually imagine three different roles: a hero, a victim and a villain (I learned this at a dealing with difficult people workshop). For example, I think unicorns are the best, my friend thinks that fairies are the best, and he calls me an idiot for liking unicorns. In my mind, I am now the victim – someone called me an idiot. I have also identified who the villain is (they used to be my friend). I can either continue to be the victim or go on the offensive and become the hero and call them an idiot. My friend, in their mind, has identified me as the villain because I thought unicorns were better; they then decided to become the hero and go on the offensive and tell me that I was an idiot. In our conflict, we have both identified each other as the villain, when maybe no one is the villain. This is how we justify treating each other like garbage. Much of the time in our conflict, there is no actual villain.
What can we take from this? If we are in a conflict, we probably both think of each other as the villain, but maybe both of us have some merit. We could then try to work on understanding each other, or at least trying to understand why someone likes unicorns more than fairies or vice versa. Also, watch the movie Hook – Robin Williams is a great Peter Pan.