Conflict and the Altar of Conscience

Sometimes it seems like life itself is conflict. The very act of living is savage, sustenance required on a daily basis requires consumption, the stronger against the weaker. The imperatives of nature, of scientific inquiry, of existing as individuals, groups and nations in a world where difference is the norm and change is the only constant seems to imply that conflict lies within the very genome of life itself. With the many conflicts currently occurring in the world, what is the importance of experience at the individual level? From the most recent trauma in Paris, France, to the racial profiling in the United States and the Palestinian question in Southwest Asia, how much of what the world is experiencing is necessary and how do we integrate our understanding of these conflicts within the context of our own lives and the conflicts we experience on a day to day basis?

Throughout nature, conflict is legion. From the cells of the bodies and the microorganisms of the world, to the oceans and forests, the mountains and skies, some form of consumptive interaction can be attributed to the behavior of living things in their interactions one with the other. Conflict can breed vibrancy, dynamism, the atmosphere of challenge stimulates growth of an organism, evolution. Conflict, then, can be a positive aspect of life itself.

Engaging in scientific pursuit necessitates the use of conflict in the form of debate, analysis, the in-depth examination of a thing, an issue, in order to reveal some aspect of essential truth, be that perceived truth subjective or objective. The academic atmosphere is much like the economic atmosphere in this sense as competition and conflict drive the search for scientific illumination, with all subservient desires attendant to the parameters of the arenas wherein ritualistic conflict occurs.

Interactions between people breed conflict as individualized perspectives of necessity diverge, differences of opinion accrue emotional portentousness and energy exchanges frantically, cycling higher with recrimination and positional supremacy. The addition of neuropeptides to the interaction suffuse and shift focus from intellect to emotion devolving impetus and clarity: conflict becomes its own causation and effective result. In the spiritual realm, the fabled text of the Bhagavad Gita highlights the discursive exposition between Arjuna and Krishna on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, explicating the profound order and necessity of conflict in the greater realms of existence, as do the holy books of many religious traditions to greater or lesser extents.

At the individual level, dealing with conflict between self and other is our most common way of analyzing and interpreting the greater conflicts we bear witness to in the world around us. The battles we have fought and won – or lost – inform our personal interpretations of the battles we see others fight, and the wars that engulf the planet wherever they may occur. From our individuated lenses and places we inhabit in society, we gaze out at the racial profiling of black Americans in the United States, at the vicious attacks on artists and editors in a magazine office in Paris, at the plight of innocent bystanders in Syria and in Gaza. We judge, depending upon our own experiences, the justification and causes of violence and conflict and we choose sides accordingly.

For those who’s lived perspective in our societies is that of the Other, immersed within the majority cultures of the Western nations, sometimes the plight of the Others in other nations calls most insistently. For those who cleave unto violence as an answer, the bloody fist of those victimized seem to rise into the air gleaming with the pure light of justice manifest. For those who seek peace as a response, the opposite is true. Violence as an answer to societal ills is the absolute antithesis of true justice, as it results in a cascading cycle of violence whereby the State must invariably triumph through necessary national mobilization in defense of its institutions. The forces of societal repression solidify then and a deeper form of command and control – on the verge of the institutional coalescence of a Police State – becomes inevitable. For some, this is indeed the goal and the desired outcome, on both sides of the conflict.

For those whose lived perspective is firmly ensconced within the protective framework of society’s institutions, the perspective is, of necessity, quite different and even oppositional. Conservatively speaking, the police are a beneficent force; their property and lives are valued and their interests are protected. A black or brown person killed on the streets is indicative of the criminal nature of the underclass – and, perhaps, an entire race or races – and it is one less thug to worry about robbing their car or home. From the Liberal standpoint, the depredations of the cops are somewhat necessary but can sometimes be extreme; jobs must be brought to the cities, education and a lessening of the exclusion of those melanated and considered Other in order to inculcate a great and more inclusive polity in the American quest for a More Perfect Union.

Further, Muslim extremists killing beloved French satirists and their co-workers in Paris are a sign that Western military forces must confront the Islamic threat of ISIL and ISIS and that the Crusades of the Middle Ages must be, finally, brought to their inevitable and imponderable crescendo. The plights of the Palestinians and the populations of ravaged countries throughout Southwest Asia are a consequence of seemingly impersonal geopolitics and arcane economic imperatives, of command and control, of dominance and submission, of conflict and its resolution at the end of a sword, the open barrel of a gun. The question of Zionism and Israel and the treatment of the Palestinian population in the occupied territory of Gaza continues to beg answers as the violence continues to spiral downward. The support of Israel over the decades by Western powers remains fraught with controversy, another divisive issue, another maelstrom in a conflagration of plenty. France’s open acceptance of many Islamic residents within its borders – as a result of its colonial heritage – as well as its firm commitment to preserving its unique European culture are brought to a head by such events and the consolidation of support within the confluence of pain and mourning demand and receive a global outpouring of grief and world-wide assurances of faith and solidarity.

Global conflict mirrors personal conflict. The justification implicit in a fight between lovers mirrors the clash of cultures, the crucible of difference sparked into conflict by words and actions, individual and collective.  Throughout time, atrocity and horror have typified the human experience. Bloodshed and the willful sacrifice of individuals and groups by murder and genocide have created the world that we currently inhabit and this is the truth of human existence. But of course, this dysfunction represents only half of the overall existential equation. Love is not opposed by hate, they are not oppositional. Love is coherent, a steady-state resonance typified by peace and vibratory harmony. Hate is unsustainable, non-coherent; it is an expression of disharmonic influences – thoughts, words and actions – that waft away upon that whispering breeze of pervading peace that eventually must arise to dissipate its illusory cacophony. The energetic sub-stratum of existence depends upon a pervading force of coherence that unites opposition in the foundational support of the world as we know it, of life as we experience it day in and day out.

Within the context of the savagery of life itself and the chaos of seemingly random events, there is an implicit and underlying order. Upon the Alter of Conscience and between the extremes of psychopathy and empathy lies the arena of choice. Pulsed freneticism, the rush of neuropeptides, the storm of emotional overwhelm scintillates, rosy-hued and reductive. Choice becomes limited and stark, decisive outcomes rendered absolute forsake equanimity and peace in favor of overarching violence and inconsolable rage. The warfare between friends schisms perception and rends love. The warfare between nations – be they cultural or geographic – fractures economic and political relations. Understanding the nature of conflict is understanding human nature but, even moreso, the nature of the world, of existence itself at the level of material manifestation and interaction.

This is the way of things and unalterable. From these conflicts, interpersonal and international, the collective human consciousness evolves beyond its previous constraints in order to encompass greater conceptions of unity in diversity. The peace which pervades and which undergirds all else, apparent in the deepest sleep and the highest meditative states, proves the lie of hate as the opposite of love. Accessing that capacity for a greater and transcendent love in our own lives increases the capacity of love in the world, quantum entanglement and the emotive, electromagnetic emanations of heart coherence necessitating a very real and collective susceptibility to all of the dictates of subliminal input that are often beyond our individuated capacity for conscious recollection.

Conflict is the gift and curse of being. The bane and the promise of life and death. The horror and the joy of cosmic evolutionary principles beyond question or comment. It lies within the core of each of us, the hearts of this world, galaxy and universe. A necessary condition of existence itself.



  1. This is a very well-written argument, almost poetic in expression. I enjoyed that aspect very much. Even though I was originally taught the same conflict premise, I have less faith in it than I used to. Because adaptation and innovation are key qualities of the human animal, we have more choice than other mammals in how much to be in conflict with nature, and how much to reside in harmony within it.

    If you regard yourself as being “outside” nature, you become impelled to try to master and control it – which fosters eternal conflict. If you can shift paradigms toward thinking you are “in” nature, trying always to find your place within a structure that is more eternal than you are, it reduces conflict. You really can “opt out” of the conflict process. That is the goal of inner peace-based philosophies and practices.

    There’s always competition for resources between individuals and groups of humans, but we don’t really have a valid rivalry with other living things. They can’t beat us, stop us, or wipe us out. We have the capacity to eliminate ourselves though, and to poison our planet beyond the point of management.

    1. You are of course correct, Mikey. Thank you for your comment. I am very much in line with conflict-mastery at the individual and collective level as my sister-blog, “Sacred Space in Time” highlights. Most of my writings there are indeed spiritual in nature. This particular blog is more materialist in nature and is a coherent envisioning, as far as it goes. I only use the last few paragraphs to indulge myself in greater discussions and then, only to awaken the inquiring mind. That pervasive peace that lies beyond is indeed possible. The fundamental firing of atoms and molecules, the consumption of food, the striving for position will remain implicit tho, until consciousness itself shifts at the collective level.

  2. It seems at times that conflict serves to pull scabs off wounds which then allows for the cleansing of the infection. I feel that is what is happening. The scab is being pulled back, and we are in this cusp where so many are individually ready for peace.

    I am recalled to a quote by Bruce Lee. He said, “Be Water.”

    I think of that a lot. ❤

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