Tuesday 4 September 2007

Niceness or Justice? Growth or Pretending? Cheese or Truth?

Great time yesterday with my colleagues Alison Webster & Raj Patel doing the first Oxford Podcast about Racial Justice in our diocese. Coming back I found a fantastic Greenbelt 2007 talk by Raj about Conflict — When do we confront and when do we walk away?

Raj gives a Gujarati slogan for us all — What God first created you to be, that you must become! and conflict, justly and honestly undergone, is a means to this happening, personally and corporately.

Conflict holds up a mirror to an organisation, an opportunity to get real, grow and learn. Secular organisations are often further ahead in their self awareness about conflict. Churches are often more into niceness than faith, so that fear of conflict paralyses them, rather than grows understanding and faith. Bullies use Fear of conflict to manipulate people. There's a weak "let's split" option that preserves subgroups' nicencess, along with their immaturity, sitting apart in smug little self-reinforcing circles, tolerating bullying and manipulation as the price of peace that isn't peace.

We need to learn when to confront and when to walk away rather than walking away because we hadn't the courage or self awareness to work it out or see it through... Raj's talk includes some pointers and practical help about these crucial decisions.

The way we handle conflict is a mirror of ourselves — What do we see in the mirror just now in our hearts, our homes, our congregations, our churches?

Is it Cheesy or realistic?

Just or Convenient?

Manipulative or honest?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Indeed! WE quite often think that conflict is completely incompatible with our faith. It is, of course, incompatible with comfortable religion...
However, as you point out, the real challenge is how to handle conflict appropriately. Bullying is not only found in the confines of those trying to preserve 'niceness', it is also possible in conflict - even conflict over an appropriate disagreement.

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