Tag Archives: Conflict

What’s The Real Reason Behind Conflict?

Two Guys Walk Into A Bar…

I was hanging out with a friend of mine in a sports bar one afternoon. It was Sunday, and there were a couple good games on, so we figured we’d kick back there for a while. Both of us were too lazy to make the proper preparations (meaning clean up enough) to watch the games at either of our houses. And also, and more importantly, the sports bar had several different TV’s, and so we could watch several games at once, even though we were only interested in two of them.

The only problem was that there was a gap between games for about an hour. Not really long enough to go to a different bar, but long enough to be concerned about drinking ourselves silly out of boredom so early in the day. One game finished around 1 PM, and the other didn’t start until around 2 or so. So there were, in between games wondering how to kill the time. I don’t know about you, but I can’t sit there with a drink in front of me for very long without drinking it. Even if it’s only soda or water, if somebody keeps filling it, I’ll keep drinking it. So I had to be particularly careful not to get too sloshed before the second game started. We had taken the train there, so neither of us were concerned about driving, but it kind of ruins your afternoon when you come home trashed at 4 in the afternoon. Any productivity you may have enjoyed in the evening is gone.

We noticed a group of people sitting a few tables over that for some reason didn’t seem particularly interested in the game. They didn’t cheer or exclaim during any of the spectacular plays that had happened earlier, and they didn’t seem to have any concern one way or the other when either team scored. So we focused our concentration on them to keep ourselves entertained.

They were all men, as were most of the patrons that day. They weren’t wearing suits or anything, so they weren’t businessmen in town for a sales meeting or something. But they seemed to be quite animated about something. Finally, one of them noticed us paying a little too close attention to them. He got up and made his way over to our table. I was a little concerned, when I realized if somehow they took our attention the wrong way, we may be in trouble, as there were only two of us, and four of them.

I remember once I took this course in political science. I think the professor wished he were teaching history, as we didn’t spend too much time talking about politics, but more time talking about the history behind the politics. The professor had this rather interesting view of human nature. The textbook would go on and on about different political viewpoints, and certain government bodies among countries, which honestly I find incredibly boring. I suppose the professor did as well as he would always get really animated when he started talking about things like human nature, and how different factors along with human history lead inevitably to various political systems.

Although he was a professor at a public university, and was required to keep his political and religious leanings out of the course material, I suspect he was a strong believer in capitalism, and a devout atheist. He always talked in terms of competition, survival of the fittest and the law of the jungle. His theory was that all politics, and all political maneuvering is purely the law of the jungle in action. Any efforts to present any public policy is really a means to an ends, which in his opinion, was always more power to the politician in question. His theory was that all political systems were merely a collection of strategies to amass more power to those already in power.

He believed that pure capitalism, on a level playing field, was the best way to make sure that certain groups of people didn’t secure power and then make it impossible for others to do so through the creation of draconian laws. He based this on the theory of escalation within a closed society. Whenever one group amasses enough power, they can put in to play systems, which will keep others from amassing power. This is the most stable when there are two separate groups wielding power, and the power will naturally oscillate back and forth. In the creation of a society, or in the early days, each group will slowly grab more power by escalating its dominance in the face of its adversaries. And the adversaries will respond by escalating their dominance.

It’s a bit complicated, but there is a mathematical model that describes it in terms of driving elements of a function in a closed system. There is a kind of symbiotic relationship between elements, that is one gets power from the others weakness, but if the other disappeared completely then so would the original groups power.

According to this professor, this explains why many countries in today’s modern world seem to be at odds, but really depend on each other for their respective survival. If the stronger would completely obliterate the weaker country, then they would lose a lot of their reason for existence. I’m not sure I understand the mechanisms behind all this, but when this particular professor described, it sounded really logical.

When the big guy from the group of four reached our table, he asked us if we would like to join them. Although it seemed a little weird, a group of four guys who weren’t outwardly interested in sports asking two guys who were at a sports bar to join them, we said what the heck.

It turned out they were seminary students who were at this big conference at the convention center downtown. It was a weeklong conference, and seeing at it was Sunday, they had the day off.

I’ll leave the strange, but interesting discussion that followed for another post.

And now for something completely different:


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Success with NLP

Roar Your Desires to the Heavens

Once upon a time there was a tiger. He was born in the part of the jungle that people haven’t discovered yet, except the people that live there. The people that live there know enough to stay away from where the tigers live. They learn very early, usually from the tribal elders, that a tiger’s roar is unmistakable danger. Whenever you hear the roar of a tiger, it is best to freeze, not make a move or a sound, and slowly and quietly find out which direction the roar is coming from, and as deftly and as quickly as possible, go in the other direction. Or wait, and die.

The people of this tribe are taught to decide quickly when they hear something that represents danger. Not to hesitate. Because those that hesitate, usually become dinner, or sometimes lunch (as leftovers the next day. Tigers aren’t famous for eating breakfast.) They also know that when they are out looking for food, sometimes it’s important to act quickly as well, because when you see something you want, it’s best to act quickly before it gets away. Otherwise you might go hungry. The trick is, for these people, is to decide what you are after, and decide what is good, and what is bad. So when you see something that is good, and you think to yourself, this is really fantastic, I must get this, you can move towards, and alter your behavior to acquire this which is beneficial to you.

But you can forget that, because this story is about the tiger. What happened was this tiger was born, and he happened to be born close to a big fight between two adult tigers. The temperature had been changing, and the migrating zebras made it hard for the tigers to track down their dinner as easily as they used to be able to. One day when the young tiger was out developing his roar the adult tigers were arguing. Some were saying that they needed to migrate west, along with the zebras, to ensure that their food supply would be plentiful. Others were arguing that they should stay put, and wait for the next herd to come through, as they had usually done. They argument got heated, with tigers roaring back and forth, each side illustrating the logic of their respective arguments.

Meanwhile, our little tiger friend came up, completely unaware of what was going on. He decided to have a go at his full strength roar that he’d been developing so far. When he bellowed out roar, he was completely surprised when the head tiger turned and told him to shut up. The adults were discussing serious matters. This was not playtime.

The young tiger slinked back into the jungle, wondering what he’d done wrong. A few months went by, and every time the young tiger was in a situation where he wanted to roar, all he could hear was the lead tigers voice in his head” “Shut up! This is not playtime!” followed by a flash of tiger anxiety. He looked around at all the other tigers. They seemed to be able to roar without a problem. Was there something wrong with him?

Finally when he was out moping around, he could hear an adult human talking to a younger human. He said:

“It’s ok. Scream as loud as you want. If people don’t want to hear what you have to say, that is there problem, not yours. Maybe they are mad because you can express yourself, and they can’t. Maybe they are angry at something that happened to them earlier. The truth of the matter is, you never really know what other people are thinking, so you might as well enjoy their reaction when it’s good, and ignore it and move on when it’s not good. Understand?”

“I think so,” came the young voice.

“Let me put it like this. You were born above all the animals in that you can speak, think, sing, and express yourself in beautiful ways. Your voice is the voice of the gods. Your desires were put inside you not to be held and bottled up, but to be shouted. If other’s can’t express themselves, it’s up to you to show them how. You understand that, don’t you?

He did, and so did the young tiger, who grew up to be the most fierce tiger the jungle has ever seen.