ready, steady, fight | 5 reasons why conflict is good

Harmony? Not for me. Go ahead, boo. But enough with the zen, I say! (If only for the fact that this zen thingie is- and should remain- something to vie for, intangible- indescribable- and- absolute. All the hoards of seasonal seekers who pretend they are it do nothing but cheapen the hell out of an otherwise deeply meaningful philosophical concept. But that’s another story.)

I believe nothing good ever came out of harmony. True, it is most desirable, because it’s rare and yet easy on the brain (symmetry is the easiest on the eye, harmonies are the easiest on the ear, and so on) – but it’s also true that in nature, most things are unstable and balance is not only hard to attain, but also almost impossible to maintain.

Chemistry operates with instability. Chaos breeds creation. Conflict is what commends change. Big Bang, innovation, discoveries, evolution and revolutions alike happened because delta (the difference between what was and what had to be) was greater than zero.

Just to make sure we’re on the same page here, let me explain myself. To me, “conflict” is the existence of more than one angle to an issue, coupled with the high probability that more angles than one can be considered valid. In my book, conflicts are an imbalance that can very well exist in a benign, live-and-let-live state foreverandeveramen. But, more often than not, they get taken into action. Their manifestations, usually belligerent, range from a benign domestic debate to full-on international wars. This applied stage is what communism was for socialism: a twisted practical application of an otherwise inoffensive theory.

As a natural phenomenon and socio- political glue, I respect conflict. As a personal source of advancement and perpetual provider of fun, I also crave it.

Here are the 5 good things that, in my opinion, come from conflict:

1. Information– imagine, say, three people who know each other well and have the same views. If you’re trying to tell me that their talk about the weather, the last soccer game they watched or the color of their kids’ fecal matter is a conversation, you’re delusional.  After all, to converse comes from the Latin conversus, “turned around”. Information gets exchanged if, and only if the parties have different tastes, preoccupations and habits and, therefore, curiosities that need be fulfilled through the analysis of delta (in this case, the difference between what I know and what you know).

2. Therapy– not only you’re letting steam out about everything and their mother (sleazy boss? Shitty in- laws? PMS?), but fighting provides an occasion to spill the beans on everything you’ve been keeping inside on the subject. A heated argument is the only acceptable venue for becoming a little extreme, and when both parties do it it’s.. well, therapeutic. Out with the poison, in with the relief.

3. Productivity– in physics, the sum force of two opposing forces is the difference between the two- if the two forces are equal, the sum is zero and you’ve accomplished precisely shit. The smaller the angle between the two, the larger the sum force. I am not one to preach compromise, but I do have a streak of utilitarianism in me, and I do believe there’s always a middle way that may make all parties happy. But in order for that ideal, productive way to be found, differences- and conflict- need first be acknowledged. In other words, if there’s more people than you in a particular issue, chances are that the best solution for everybody is not exactly what you want- get over yourself and accept that.

4. Socializing– if you think your kid will learn basic social skills from you hovering over him like a freak and telling him “no, Billy, you need to share”, “no, Billy, you need to be nice”, “no, Billy, put your penis back in your pants”, you’re- again- delusional. Billy will wait until he’s old enough to close a door and the first thing he’s gonna do is slam it in your face. NONONO. What Billy needs is what we all grew up with- a cold shower. Distributed religiously, every day, by other kids. Only through trial and error will he learn what it means to be part of a group, of a hierarchy (commanded mostly by age, at that age) and a network and, most importantly, how he can influence his position in this network. Billy will also learn to talk, not talk, approve, disapprove, make friends, deal with enemies, stand up for himself, stand up for others, be humble, be proud, be competitive, risk, pay off, think, choose, suck up and suck it up. All- thanks to differences.

5. Make up sex. And this, my friends, is pretty self- explanatory.

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