When I began working in the field of conflict transformation, I was surprised to realize conflict impacts all aspects of life -- political, education, health, environment, business, etc... and at all levels -- home, community, national and international.
I also came to realize that conflict is neither negative nor positive, but rather it is a natural part of life resulting from differences. If we deal with conflict destructively, it can have terrible impact. If we approach conflict constructively, it can be an opportunity for deepening relationships and for growth.
This list of basic facts about conflict is a good start for learning about the impact of conflict in the world. It also gives hope in knowing that more and more people and organizations are using conflict resolution, mediation and other cooperative approaches for dealing with conflict constructively.
Another thing I try to keep in mind: most conflicts in the world are handled peacefully; something that is easy to forget when watching the news.
How to live together in a world of differences is one of the most critical challenges facing us today. So much depends on our ability to handle our conflicts peacefully - our happiness at home, our performance at work, the livability of our communities, even our very survival. How we deal with conflict affects every other major issue we're dealing with, either directly with specific consequences, or indirectly, through our inability to reach consensus and work together productively.
When you look at the current strife-ridden state of the world, an understandable response is to feel frustrated, if not hopeless. Although violent behavior is much too prevalent, our fundamental view is that the world is evolving in positive directions. One hopeful sign is that the whole field of conflict resolution has grown rapidly over the past 20 to 30 years. We've made tremendous progress in our understanding of how to deal with conflict constructively, and that momentum is growing.
More and more people are becoming determined to be part of the solution. Just as it seems that our world is becoming increasingly polarized, there is a groundswell of enthusiasm and commitment for working toward peace around the world. Many signs are pointing to a major shift in consciousness with regard to dealing with conflict more constructively and learning to live with one another more harmoniously.
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