May 19, 2007

Anatomy of Peace

I just finished reading The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict. As the title suggests, it provides insights into the heart of conflicts -- on why conflicts really occur and what to do about them. Why do conflicts occur? At the deepest level, they occur because we don't treat the other person as a Human Being -- we treat them as objects. What does that mean? Well, it is easier to see how we treat objects. Take, for example, the flashlight. The purpose of the flashlight is to provide light. If it doesn't, then it is broken and it needs to be fixed.

But Human Beings aren't objects. They do things (or don't do things) because they choose to. So if someone in our lives does something different that we aren't used to, that doesn't mean they are broken. And it doesn't mean they need to be fixed. Our view of who they are -- that needs to be fixed. Since we can only change ourselves and not anybody else, that is the only thing that we can do. And this is also the best thing we can do to help the other person from whatever "problem" they have put themselves into.

And, what to do about conflicts? Instead of working on things that have gone "wrong" (example, fixing the other person -- which is what most people do), work on things that'll help things go right for the other person (example, if your child has a problem, then building relationships with those have influence over your child in other areas of their lives, will be helpful -- their friends, their teachers, etc.).

If you find this confusing -- rest assured -- the book makes these thing very clear and understandable. And it really helped me with dealing with conflicts in my daily life.