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The absurd blindness of conflict
The absurd blindness of conflict
In a school yard, far far away in my deep dream cycle, pupils and teachers were fighting. It was not just the ordinary pupil-doesn't-want-to-go-to-class exchange of ugly words. No, this was a real fight with sticks and stones and tear gas. It was brutal. The pupils REALLY didn't want to go to class.

Watching over this scene, I felt an urge to help. It didn't have to be this way. There are better ways of resolving our differences, and it starts by seeing each other. I headed for the teachers' lounge.

To my surprise, I was not admitted. Since I was not an employee, I had to wait in the hallway, where nobody would see me, given that I did not have a specific person I wanted to see. So there I was, me and my baby, waiting in the hallway. Waiting for me to figure out if I was waiting for nobody or if I should do something else.

Conflicts really boil down to limited views, information fatigue, the inability to see the bigger picture. It takes only one side to resist information for the conflict to perpetuate. While it is the open minded party's decision to perpetuate their view or leave the table, it is the more powerful party's prerogative.

In this dream, the school refused new information from a layman, no matter how useful it would be. The new information, of course, was merely that conflict could be avoided if they would take the time and energy to really see the pupils, rather than managing them with draconian methods. Even though it takes both sides to come to an agreement, I went straight to those with greatest power because they were the ones who truly OWNED the option of real change.

While I was contemplating this, the baby wanted out of my hands. I put him down on the floor, upon which he promptly started to crawl down the hallway. It took a lot of energy keeping him out of offices. But babies can be quite stubborn, and he finally did manage to enter an office.

The office had several desks and shelves stacked with paper. The desk nearest the door had some legos set up for children to play with. One middle aged, grumpy man looked at the baby as if its presence was a personal offense. Children, and especially babies, were not allowed in this school.

I thought it absurd. And after waking up, I still do. Conflicts usually are absurd when you look into them. And as a parent, I can truly say that my children can sometimes be my greatest teachers. So when in doubt, stop. Listen. Lift yourself and others out of the absurd world of conflict.

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