Conflict is as common as the air we breathe. From the dawn of time, struggles have been inherent and present. The advancement of language and technology has done nothing to dull the sharp contrast brought about by differing views. This leads me to believe that we are doomed to a perpetual cycle of conflict and strife.
As long as man continues to evolve and freely think, oppositional nature will continue its choking grip on our society.
We are a product of our perspective. We hold firm to our beliefs by way of our experiences and trials. The method by which we become so entrenched in our faith in a particular philosophy isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s just not inclusively right.
The parable of six blind men feeling an elephant for the first time speaks volumes to our narrow personal vision. Each man was asked to feel one part of an elephant to learn what it was like. The responses were wildly different.
The one who felt the tusk described the elephant as a spear. The one who felt an ear said it was a fan. The one who felt the trunk said it was a snake. The one who felt the side said it was a wall. The one who felt a leg said it was a tree. The one who felt the tail said it was a rope.
Were these men wrong in describing what they felt with their own bare hands? Of course not, but what they held in their hand was a single piece of a larger puzzle. We, too, grapple with what we do not see. Comprehension of something we have not felt or experienced is extremely difficult and is rarely seen in an individual.
In order to harmoniously live with one another, we must understand that our own perspective is not absolute.
If someone were to ask you what two numbers equal the number 10, you could say 5+5. This is correct, but it is not an absolute truth. If someone else were to be asked the same question, their answer could be 9+1. It could be 30-20 or 7+3 or 12-2, and there are other possibilities. We must understand the difference between absolute and relative truths.
In some capacity, we are all blind. This is an awful consequence of being human. Our staunch belief system would rather focus on a small area of light, which our eyes can focus on, than pull back the curtain and try to see the grand abstract picture.
Although we may not be able to see or understand this larger picture made up of other’s perspectives, we must respect them. When we refuse to allow others’ thoughts and beliefs into the grand scheme of harmony, only darkness and misunderstanding remain.
An important distinction that is often misinterpreted in accepting others’ beliefs is the expectation one must convert to others’ sets of beliefs. To fully grasp solidarity, you don’t have to believe in what someone else may believe. You just need to acknowledge that it is different from your beliefs. Your beliefs, no matter their merit, can stand on their own as long as you afford your friend and foe the same principle.
People will continue to shape their own perspectives. We will all hold on to truths we believe to be factual. Although we can’t change everyone’s experiences, we can create our own narratives in acceptance of all accounts. The delicate balance between conflict and understanding will always be on the verge of crumbling, but it will never be too late to accept what we can’t see.
Jim Jackson of Frankfort is a freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.