Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CONFLICT: Defined As "To Strike Together"; Pro or Con

IT'S IN THERE SOMEWHERE: [Ephesians 4:1-3]

During the football season, we are witnesses to a wonderful illustration of conflict resolution. The ball carrier (ball firmly tucked under his bent elbow, fingers firmly over the end of the pigskin) is hit violently; the ball spurts from his grasp and bounds randomly first here and then there.

Three seconds elapse and the ball will have traveled no more than thirty yards, but not necessarily in your preferred direction.

Three more seconds slip away and the ball is smothered under a dozen testosterone factories, housed in two to three tons of male flesh, but not necessarily in the possession of your man.

One by one the component parts of the pile are pealed off, top to bottom. Finally, the pile is whittled down to a few hot, struggling bodies until the player with legal possession of the ball is identified. By this time another six seconds has gone by and in professional sports, time is valuable.

A similar thing happens in conflict resolution. By the time referees get to the scene of a conflict the combatants are struggling fiercely and its cause is buried beneath a heap of time, circumstances, contributing factors, participants, situational milieus, and temperaments. Before the cause can be identified, each component of the pile must be pealed off from top to bottom, one by one. By now, a lot of time has passed and in the game of life, time is precious.

Communicating the need for patience to the combatants by a referee is essential to the process and its success.

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