Thursday, November 06, 2008

Ending the conflict

By Carol Gee

It will not be quick or easy. By conflict I mean the wars abroad and those at home. Many of feel that this election has ended our "long dark night" of discouragement, pessimism and battling to change things. "Unity" and "reconciliation" were among the watch words used to describe what CHANGE meant. Where to start?

Abroad includes all of the Middle East. President-elect Obama has committed to ending the occupation of Iraq in a responsible way, and refocusing on the conflicts in Afghanistan and the nearby border regions of Pakistan. This will amount to first figuring out what to call the new conflicts, besides the "war on terror," such a misnomer. After that it amounts to a laser beam focus on destabilizing and interrupting al Qaeda. Then the entire military needs to be repaired and re-purposed. Well, optimism says that all should be a piece of cake, huh? The pessimists among us will say that it will be impossible to disengage from Iraq; it is too fragile and we dare not "lose."

Discouraged others say that the military industrial complex is too formidable to reform or refocus, let alone dismantle.

At home includes conflict within and without the two main political parties, conflict among social classes and ethnic groups, and even the conflicts within our families and smaller social circles. No problem says the optimist. We'll get started on that right away, too. Whoa, there, say the pessimists. Does not psychology, sociology, anthropology and political theory maintain that conflict is a natural and inevitable part of the human condition? Homo sapiens is a fighting species, biologically programmed to favor the winners to be the fittest, the survivors? Pessimistically, we could always be fighting.

Conflict, how to end it? The cynic in me says, forget it. The job is too big and too hard. I talked about the weight of the world on our new leader's thin shoulders in yesterday's post . My friend betmo's comment was this:

"We are all a bit older and grayer and more subdued after 12 years of the yoke of wrong rule. The weight of the world should be shouldered by all of us. We should lift Obama up to be the leader he needs to be by shouldering the responsibility for change - millions of shoulders carry a lot of weight."

Conflict remains at home and abroad. Where is the rational middle ground to start to diminish conflict? What should we realistically work towards, now that we the people of good will are all joined in this common effort of CHANGE? I cannot think of a better way to look at the question that though my reader's powerful thoughts.

We cannot afford to be overly optimistic or pessimistic. We must figure out what is realistic. And it is realistic for me to say to myself, not speaking for anyone else, I am capable of figuring out what my shoulders can carry. I know what I know how to do, what I have the capacity to accomplish, what are realistic goals that can be met just by me alone. Whew! That feels do-able, rational and realistic. I cannot presume to speak for, dream for or plan for others. That is theirs to do... or not.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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