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conflict is good

November 3, 2010

I am rethinking all sorts of things that at first glance appear to be unrelated, but I now realize are signs that my worldview has been undergoing a tectonic shift. I still abhor violence, but I now see that tension and conflict are desirable, and probably necessary, for healthy relationships at all scales. Harmony seems like an unequivocal good, but can mask stagnation, tyranny, or the silencing of important voices.

A fundamental part of my identity is being a catalyst for change. And that’s not really compatible with harmony, but it is compatible with integrative pluralism, which is the concept I was using the word harmony to mean.

I realized this morning that when everything in my life is harmonious, it’s boring. When everyone agrees, I’m not learning anything, expanding my horizons, nor imagining myself as someone new. I want to be challenged, I need opportunities to evaluate and refine or modify my opinions by exploring them with someone who thinks differently.

A large part of the appeal of the Slacktivist community is the diversity of opinions, knowledge, and expertise on every topic imaginable. I learn something new every time I read a post and the accompanying comments. And I need that give-and-take. Spouse and I agree a lot, which can be comforting, but ironically I’m happier when I regularly step outside my comfort zone, when I stretch myself in unfamiliar directions.

Some part of me craves uncertainty, ambiguity, and conflict. This is new knowledge, but I’m eager to see what I can do with it.

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