“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” 
Mahatma Gandhi

2 friends having an argument

I was sitting with some friends enjoying a cup of coffee, when I realized my 2 friends started to have an argument about something I considered meaningless but needless to say, the issue was important to them. Given that I did not think much of the issue nor did I think that it would escalate, I hesitated engaging in it in order to help dissipate the tension and eradicate the conflict. My two friends kept arguing and before all of us realized, the conflict escalated into other areas, into past hurts and frustrations that were never forgotten nor forgiven. As I hesitated and did not intend to get involved in it at the beginning, I started to wonder how I could have impacted and perhaps even changed the complexion of the ongoing conflict. It made me dwell on past teachings about the power of intention and the negative impact of hesitation. I engulfed myself into deep thoughts on both topics and realized that something could have been done prior to the explosion of the conflict between my friends. In addition, I could observe that my friends had held up a lot from the past, they were ticking bombs waiting to explode at the opportune time. While listening to them, I started detaching myself from the situation in order to extract any emotion and facilitate being unbiased given that it is challenging to resolve any conflict while one is emotionally invested into it. After subtracting my own emotion and my inner reflexion upon the full situation, I made the decision to intervene. I was able to stabilize the conflict as to avoid any more damage. Then I proceeded to isolate each party in order to avoid any rekindlement of the issue. Once I was successful at doing so, I started to delve into the deeper issues of the past. From my experience, the seeds of most conflicts reside in the past. Therefore, I always attempt to conjure up past issues that are directly or indirectly related the current conflict. There was some hesitations from my friends to open up about the past issues as they felt hurt and did not want to revive the past emotions. Even though they were reluctant in doing so, they eventually opened up and engage in Fruitful discussion with me individually. Once I was able to properly appreciate and assess the situation, I presented both friends with the other person’s views. Upon doing so, they realized that most of the issues were due to miscomprehension coupled with assumptions. Therefore, they altered and re-aligned their thoughts correctly. Once we all seemed to be on the same path, the path of peace and resolution, we started to work with the right intention and were able to find the proper solution and eradicate past negative feelings. Even though it was challenging, they had the right intention once they realized that they had been misleading themselves about the true nature of the other person’s intention. Their willingness to work together and negate the past feelings and hurts increased and the subtle animosity vanished. To be honest and frank, it was invigorating to see them re-establish a sincere friendship removed from hypocrisy and ill-thoughts. After resolving the issues, we sat down and really enjoyed each other's company, it felt as if there was a sudden injection of joy and sincerity into the group.​
In this story, there are a few lessons to be learnt that are very important in order for us to better handle and resolve conflicts.
Hesitation, by definition it is the action of pausing before saying or doing something. I hesitated to step into the conflict in order to resolve it. My hesitation caused the conflict to escalate further than needed. My wanting to remain on the side and dwell on whether to intervene or not accelerated the conflict to the point of animosity manifesting itself between my friends. The atmosphere was no longer ideal and the difficulty got harder to come to a resolution to the conflict. Hesitation can worsen the situation we should attempt not to let hesitation hinder us from resolving any issue as the consequences might be greater than needed.
Intention by definition a thing intended; an aim or plan. The power of intention as we are taught in religion, philosophy and psychology. Intention is the key to everything we do. Without the proper intention, results can sometimes be challenging. Both friends had a negative intention during the conflict, their aims was to prove their points without any regard for the other. They intended just to be right regardless of the consequences. After, once the intentions were changed to a positive one, the behavior and the actions changed. They acted to resolve the conflict and do what was needed to arrive to a peaceful resolution. The change of intentions created an auspicious environment for a resolution. Intention is the key here and the key in our endeavors.
Past, we are sometimes hunted by unresolved hurts or feelings from the past. Most of us are either oblivious or simply refuse to confront past issues as it can be painful to re-visit how hurt we might have been, we might even want to remove people from our lives. However, we must also recognize that we are not resolving the issue we are simply storing the emotions elsewhere and at time, those emotions rekindled and affect us, affect how we perceive others as even those who are not related to the issues as we might project the negativity on other in order to protect our sanity and find solace. We just run away. We must not be afraid to confront the past as it might help us better avoid and resolve past and current conflicts.
WIllingness, by definition it means the quality or state of being prepared to do something. Given that both had a willingness to come to a resolution once they realized the erroneous assumptions, they made a decision and elected to be willing to work together in order to find a solution and release the negative energy. Willingness is very important to resolve any issue, even if all parties are miles apart, as long as there is a will we shall find a way.
Lets remember to develop the right intention, be willing to act positively, rectify past negative emotions and hurts and to always take action and not to hesitate once we decide on what to do.

Conflict during a trip

I traveled to Abidjan to visit my family for Ramadan. The daily prayers were said at the Mosque. While there, I started to engage with the youth and the community to learn of ways to help and contribute to the growth while there. I was delighted to have had people happy to provide guidance and present ways that could be used to help the community. Once specific issue came to my attention. A business group serving alcohol within 5 meters of the Mosque. Both entities appeared to dislike each other as the bar owners disliked being seen as negative influences and the people going to the mosque felt very uneasy. The tension between both parties was very strong. The issues had been on going for a couple of years, however despite countless legal efforts from the mosque to relocate the bars, the bars remained. After being presented the issues, I was told to go through a hierarchy in order to find ways to resolve the conflict. Knowing that the multiple layers imposed by society will be an impediment to finding a solution, I decided to first interview both side without revealing my intention of resolving it. Hence, I arranged informal meetings and interview a few bar owners as well as members of the mosques. While interviewing both side, I made sure to put them at ease in order for both side to be comfortable and fully open. I was able to extract much needed info and allowed them to properly present their views and concerned without the need of being guarded.
I asked each side what would be the desired outcome given the current situation, both side opened up and provided the ideal roadmap as well as what they will be willing to compromise on. After gathering all facts and views, I started negotiating with both side informally and was able to obtain an agreement. Within a week, the businesses moved away from the Mosque.
In times of conflict when both side elect not to engage together and seem to have deep differences and hatred toward each other, it is important to isolate both party, make each party at ease, provide a safe emotional and mental zone. Obtain much needed info, what each party might be willing to compromise on. Once the info is gathered, then the negotiation start with all parties involved, still keep all parties isolated until a solution is found as in the event that the animosity is still potent, all efforts might be disrupted. Once a solution has been found and all parties have agreed to the solution, then have all parties meet to have an in person acknowledgement of the agreement. At this point, the hatred would have decreased and the willingness to engage and meet with the other side increased. After being able to find a satisfactory solution, all happy I decided to inform one of the higher up persons in the Muslim association. While all happy, proud of my accomplishment, I went to see him and explained what I did and thought that he would have been excited about the outcome. Yes he was delighted about the solution but extremely unhappy about the process. He told me that  I skipped some steps and took it upon myself to resolve a conflict that they had been working on for years. He disliked my approach. Let’s stop here for a second. Here, we have a possibility of various conflicts rising. However let’s focus on just 2 of them. My approach was disliked by the other person has it was perceived a a sign of being disrespectful, a sign of arrogance, a sign of I will show you how it is done properly. On the other hand, my approach can be seen as very pro-active and efficient, as let’s get this done and just focus on the result given that we all want this to be resolved.
In this short story, there are multiple lessons to be learned when it come perceptions and conflict resolutions.
Respect, By definition it means a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something due to their abilities, qualities or achievements. One regardless of the situation we might find ourselves into, we must respect and observe the norms and customs of others, there is no need to absolutely go according to our own views and ways and justifying it with the result. We might reach our desired results but at the same time caused more damages along the way by alienating others and making others feel belittle and or insulted as well as belittle. People love to feel valuable, love to feel respected. We must always be aware of that fact whenever trying to resolve a conflict or just while interacting with others.
Change, by definition means to make or become different. Most of us dislike change as it brings a sense of uncertainty. We feel a lack of control and a sentiment of discomfort start to settle within us. However, we must recognize that change can also bring a much needed progress. In The story above, change was needed to resolve the conflict, change of views, change of perceptions were needed. Change can be good. Whenever we are unable to move forward, there is a dire need for change. We must be willing to embrace change as well as the new perceptions proposed to us as the new proposed changes might be exactly what we might be in need of at the time and will indeed facilitate a resolution and provide for long term stability.
Fearlessness, by definition means lack of fear, not being frightened. When the issue was presented, I had no fear of failing to resolve it, I had no fear to do what was needed to find a solution as I knew that a solution was much needed and needed sooner rather than later given that both sides had been at a stalemate for about 2 years. One must recognize at time that he/she must divorce the internal fear and act accordingly to resolve any situation.
Diplomacy, by definition it means the art of dealing with others in a very sensitive and effective way. In today’s society, we tend to overlook or shall I say steer away from diplomacy as we tend to want things to go according to our ways of thinking and seeing things. Hence conflicts tend to worsen and linger much longer than needed. In the above story, both side displayed a lack of diplomacy as they were very hard and harsh toward each other and had no intention nor desire to soften their tones. By being diplomatic with both sides, we were able to reach a solution pleasing to both sides.
Always remember that in order to resolve a conflict, we need to be able and willing to respect all parties involved, to be fearless, embrace changes as well as be very diplomatic.