On Liking Confrontation

On Liking Confrontation


I find that we often conflate confrontation with conflict.

Conflict is a collision of opposing ideas--heads butting together, beliefs holding position in a wrestle. And conflict is necessary and healthy. We need it. But it is understandably distasteful for many of us, because it is vulnerable and, when not handled with care, hurtful. Confrontation, on the other hand, is an airing of ideas for comparison and discussion--it may lead us to discover that our beliefs and values are far less opposed than we may have thought. Confrontation can include conflict, but it doesn’t have to. What it does do, though, is bring to light what’s squirming within us--what wants to be out in the light. In doing so, it eradicates the fictional tales we unintentionally create in our minds about what is motivating so-and-so to do whatever so-and-so is or isn’t doing. Dwelling within an internal story, in which our fellow humans are objectified by our own psyches, usually leads us deeper into the fog away from the actual truth.

Many of us fear conflict because it’s uncomfortable, scary, and unpredictable. And in our pursuit to avoid said unpredictable or hurtful discomfort, we sometimes also flee anything that may lead to conflict, including confrontation. But by fearfully associating confrontation with combat and interpersonal distance, we miss out on vulnerable, honest encounters--encounters I believe foster intimacy in a way that blanket agreeableness cannot. Temporary disruptions of harmony can, perhaps, create a more solid, holistic, trusted harmony by bringing our honest feelings to light, whereby we better understand not only the values driving our fellow humans, but those in our own guarded hearts.

This life is fleeting. Do we have enough time for anything other than kind honesty?