Ten things I’ve learned from conflict

  1. Being young, dumb, and full of repressed sexuality often means embracing conflict, and creating antagonistic situations. Maybe it’s physical, maybe it’s activism, maybe it’s just yelling for the hell of it.
  2. I still get nervous whenever I know I might be in a potentially serious conflict with another person. I use humour as a defense mechanism, but when that doesn’t work, I often have to face the situation I have (often) created.
  3. I hate conflict, but it is part of who I am. I’m opinionated, weird, and have a natural anti-authoritarian streak. At the same time I can hold grudges for a long time, and have trust and betrayal issues. But I want people to be happy and, to some extent, to validate me. It’s a constant tension between pushing people away and needing companionship.
  4. Conflict, more often than not, comes from stubborn and willful misunderstandings. Conflict resolution is the effeminate way of dealing with those misunderstandings as rational and mature adults.
  5. Sometimes when I’m drunk, I become antagonistic. I try to mock people I consider to be stupid for as long as possible without them realizing they are being mocked. Ideally, they never realize. Then I feel like a man, and can go home to sleep with my contacts in and wake up the next day with a headache.
  6. When you have a conflict with somebody you don’t know, you can really say anything. If a car almost hits you while you are crossing the street, you can yell “fuck you fucking dick!”. It’s fine, because you’ll never see each other again, and you want to be succinct. But what about your friends? Your partner? Your family? Some things are hard to unsay, and difficult to process if you have to keep seeing each other on a regular basis. Then again…sometimes hurtful things need to be said.
  7. Conflict is a necessary part of the human experience. It’s difficult, but it often leads to honesty, catharsis, and good ideas. Apathy and diplomacy can, at times, be useful tools…but they can take you down a path of never being all that honest, and never being all that happy.
  8. If one side declares war, you are at war…whether you realize it or not, and whether you agree or not. Make no mistake, the Far Right are at war, in Canada, the USA, and around the world; and right now, they are winning handily.
  9. If you set something up as a deal-breaker, that means that if that thing happens, you walk away. Don’t make a threat that you aren’t willing to follow through on.
  10. Conflict is rarely about being right or wrong. It is often about just being listened to.

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