Conflict: Permanent Solutions Based on Creative, Radical Change

A bully is not a friend - at first.     From the book  "Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends?"

A bully is not a friend – at first. From the book “Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends?”

Yes, it’s tough to find an answer to  conflict.

At present, the goals to finding solutions to conflict range from ‘winning and domination’ to ‘reconciliation and unification’. Counselors in schools and businesses, diplomats and mediators at the national level attempt to defuse conflict with these methods.  But, do they solve it?

In the scenario of most conflict resolution, each opposing viewpoint gives up something until both sides are satisfied.  But, is this really resolution? If there is an underlying ‘simmer waiting to boil’ that wants one’s own viewpoint to ‘win’, then the conflict is only on the back burner. To truly dissolve a conflict,  a creative, radical approach must tempt both sides into a better,  so-far-unidentified, solution.

New geometry. The typical approach to mediation begins with a straight line with the opposing viewpoints at each end.  Each group/person gives up or modifies their viewpoint and moves toward the middle until each side is satisfied.  In the new approach, use a triangle. Write the goal above it.  Then, put each opposing viewpoint in a bottom corner.  Clearly identify each side’s viewpoints. Then, toss them out!  Work to find totally new viewpoints/solutions.  Wipe out any lingering preferences for the original conflicting viewpoints.

To consider the importance of radical changes in viewpoints, read Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends?  The ‘soon-to-be dinner’ frog offers to help the dragon solve his problem.  This is radical change #1. He is not treating him as the enemy.  Then,  he deserts the other frogs to help the dragon. Radical change #2, the frog is willing to stand alone.

Next, is the frog’s persistent offers to help the dragon which equals radical change # 3. He is determined to help him at all costs.   This defies the usual interaction of dragons eating frogs.  Radical change #4 happens when the frog willingly ignores, then disproves, the ancient forest legend regarding the inevitability of conflict. It is often the history, the past, that straitjackets finding a solution.

These radical changes on the part of the frog disarm the dragon.   Recognizing the frog’s shift in attitude, the dragon shifts his perception of the frog and accepts his help. This is the dragon’s radical change #1. When a second dragon arrives on the scene and threatens to eat the frog, the first dragon defends and protects him – radical change #2. His defense is so thorough that the second dragon expresses gratitude toward the frog and does not eat him. That was definitely a radical change!

The success of this ‘higher viewpoint‘ mediation method is the willingness of everyone to completely give up the past – what others have said and done – and  then recognize and prove what is good and useful about the ‘enemy’.  This requires a lot of creative thinking and a true willingness to change.  It usually happens when both sides are about to wipe each other out.

I admit this approach appears to be based on the “love your enemy” concept. But, it is not. Loving the enemy as an enemy, still sees him as your enemy. It is the  gaining and holding a different viewpoint of him that causes the radical and positive change. This higher, better viewpoint is gained when the ‘enemy’ becomes a cohort, a friend, and someone worth knowing.  With that radical change, comes the creative solution to conflict.


Children’s Books Are Everyone’s Books

Books children fall in love and are bought by many are called popular and, over time, may become classics.  Why? Because the children who loved the books became the adults who read them to the next generation – and the next. Every business needs children’s books to provide moments of relaxation and delight in childhood memories. To enhance the childlike moment, add coloring books and crayons.

Velovotee / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

A classic author for me is Beatrix Potter. The Story of Peter Rabbit shows her flair for a detailed, simple story that appeals to many ages, including mine! Reading the’ back story’ to Peter Rabbit, I found that she had originally written the story in a letter to a child. Later, she asked for the letter back so she might publish the story. Today, children the world over delight in Peter’s adventures.

Future classics, in my humble opinion, will be Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books. Written for the ‘I Can Read’ children, the stories take a small event and look at it from many angles. For instance, in April, when Frog wants Toad to get up from his winter hibernation, and Toad wants to sleep just a little longer like maybe until May, Frog tears off the calendar pages from November to April. He then reawakens Toad who is surprised as to how fast time has flown! What a smile that brings to a child’s face as the logic and the humor come together. The happiest part is there are at least five stories to every book!

The Magic School Bus series based on a PBS program reveals a love for science in delightful stories of travel through time in a school bus that shrinks and enlarges. With factual information and a story to carry the adventure along, children discover the world around them, and hopefully go outside for another look!

An interesting book, written for an older child, is one I discovered in a grocery store. For fun, I asked a friend to read it to me. (If, as an adult you have not had another adult read a children’s book to you, I assure you, it is a unique way to hear a children’s story.) The Mask of the Dancing Princess written and illustrated by Judith Gwyn Brown is a fantasy beyond imagination and yet, well, maybe it could happen. The king’s daughter asks for the impossible – someone who looks just like her. When the king grants her wish, things go wrong, and her adventure as a gypsy begin. Over time, she learns that there are more important things than just loving oneself.

Children’s literature is such a rich world.  To enter it,  find a comfortable chair, gather a stack of children’s books, and enter the mind of a child. For me, I include a stack of Oreo cookies and a glass of milk.

Ah yes! One more! James’ Herriot’s books including The Christmas Day Kitten are truly a delightful must read.