why conflict avoidance might be the downfall of western society

the other day i was talking to andy (>_>) and i mentioned that i thought conflict avoidance might be a critical part of the downfall of western society. i don’t even remember in what context i dropped it, but he challenged me to write about it, so here we are.

my theory that this statement might be true is based on two patterns i am a part of (#patternist) and see regularly. people who are conflict avoidant often fall into one of these two behaviors: power grabbing/mongering or silence.

when i think of people who grab power as a way to avoid conflict i think about… the entire history and founding stories of america. i mean, if you read the history books, sure maybe you could disprove this point by some of the language about democracy being meant to both protect minority views as well as prevent a tyrannical minority from unjustly wielding power over the majority. but if you take a wider view, the folks who wrote those documents explicitly excluded everyone who wasn’t a wealthy white dude. controlling the government was a clear (maybe unintentional) way, in my mind, to avoid being faced with the blunt truth that the words people were penning and speaking weren’t actually believed. conflict avoidance. (i also think if you look at the history of the police in ths us, that structure is another example of institutionalized conflict avoidance. one group (wealthier white people) literally paid another group (poor white people) to handle its conflicts. non-militia militaries also often end up creating similar structures, but not always).

the second is silence. this is the one i participate in most frequently (shoutout to universal partnership and VISIONS INC. for the trainings that opened this one up for me). when people are conflict avoidant, silence is one of the easiest ways to avoid conflict and, worse, confrontation.

unfortunately, what both of these behaviors do is prevent a group (of any size) from dealing with its own truth and reality. by avoiding the conflict, we create a false image of a system. but in actuality, the image we create isn’t the real system.

i think part of this stems from a deep-seated (maybe puritan?) belief that conflict is bad and harmful (see conflict is not abuse – thanks, cameron, for the rec). however, unless we learn to treat conflict as (at least sometimes) generative and productive, we will continue to create and live in dream worlds until we destroy each other and/or the planet’s capacity to carry our species.


words / writing / post-processing
413w / 13min / 6min