Conflict and curiosity


The church subscribes to a quarterly publication called Leader.  We distribute copies to various folks in leadership positions.  The theme of the most recent edition is Conflict.

One of the essays is by Richard Blackburn, long time director of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center.  He notes that conflict is inherently emotionally charged.  A healthy response includes recognizing those emotions and, rather than distancing oneself from their source, to remain relationally connected with the other and approach them with curiosity.  His phrase for this is “moving toward the other with interest.”

He writes: “Staying connected in the midst of disagreement requires one to move toward the other with interest.  It involves being respectfully curious about the other’s perspective while communicating a genuine desire to listen and understand.”

This approach is most appropriate when conflicted parties have a similar amount of power.

These are challenging days to be a peacemaker, especially when so many people are wrong : )

Hopefully we have not lost the capacity for curiosity about why another feels/thinks the way they do.  On good days we might still be able to move toward the other with interest.