Dr. Linda James Meyers in, Re-Centering Culture and Knowledge in Conflict Resolution Practice (2008), writes, “The significance of conflict in Western civilization is made evident by the way the West benchmarks history, and much of it centers around materialistic values. Western historians typically recount what has taken place over time through the engagement of Western cultures in extremely violent conflicts or wars, the consequences of imperialist instinct and aggression or inability to resolve differences and conflict…..insight into the mindset of Western aggressive dominance is important.”
(Personally, I think that the insight to that mindset can be found through a book entitled, The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli, and an Abrahamic view of male dominion over the earth.)
I read this in one of my courses in the Conflict Resolution undergraduate certificate program I am in. It really stuck with me. I wrote a discussion question about it, but no one replied to it, so I decided to write more about it after answering my own questions. For the past 6 months, I have been writing a semi-autobiographical novel. In so doing, I had to recall many events in my life. I was able to remember the year by thinking about a few major conflict situations that happened in my life and in the world. In my life, I often use the following events to benchmark my personal history: When I became homeless in 2008, joined the army in 2006, got jumped in 2003, attacks on September 11, 2001, Columbine in 1999, 1996 Olympic Bombing, and the Gulf War. Looking back, I thought about my dad being a war historian. Of course I benchmark life events through conflict. What better way to develop and maintain a culture of war than to measure time by it?
Those big events happened every few years. A lot of life happened in between those major U.S. and world events. I was having trouble remembering what happened in between. Another conflict popped in my head. The Swann family battle of the Will Smith CD.
“What year did that Will Smith album, ‘Big Willie Style’, come out?” I questioned. Immediately, I googled it. “Oh, it came out in 1997. It must have been 1998 when I got that. Yes, definitely it was 1998, because the next year was when we built the basement into bedrooms for my brother and I. That is around the time I started becoming more independent. Yes, I was 11.”
The CD was confiscated by my father who did not believe in multi-culturalism. I was angry. To me, it was innocent. There were no cuss words and I first heard the songs on Disney Radio for Kids. I remembered the sadness of the conflict, but it spurred another thought:
|Recently, I learned about conflict metaphors and realized that my family had a “War metaphor”. Wow! I am trying to change that in my life and have been switching over to thinking about conflict as a garden or a dance to be danced in harmony. I need to stop looking at my personal history through the lens of conflict. It is a must, if I am going to change my life into a culture of peace. I have to “be the change that I want to see”.|
I began remembering all of the music from my childhood. It has been helping me get the timeline right on my book. I just remember an album or a book and look up when it was released.
We could just as easily use Mozart’s, Clarinet Quintet in A, to benchmark history as the commencement of the French Revolution. The big difference is that we would be furthering a culture of the arts rather than war. Can we make music instead of war? My grandaddy benchmarked his life by economics: When he got his first pair of shoes, went to college, got a teaching job, etc. Can we make money and educational opportunities instead of war?
The muse in me wants the world to benchmark history through the arts. What are your ideas?
“Chronic use of military or violent metaphors severely limits creative problem solving. Other metaphors would capture different realities instead of focusing only on military images.” – Hocker and Wilmot in Interpersonal Conflict