“First go and be reconciled to your brother . . .” – Matthew 5:24
Conflict inevitably occurs among humans. No matter how hard we may try conflicts can never be totally avoided in the course of our life experiences, but our behavior in response to them can make a huge difference in the outcome. That is, how we respond can either be destructive, making matters worse, or constructive, facilitating a fair and peaceful resolve. Allow me to share an example:
A friend of mine became the victim of a scathing post on Twitter about a remark he once made in a public forum (one of the unfortunate hazards of putting ourselves out in public in this age of social media). Needless to say, my friend was hurt, angry, and humiliated that someone had taken offense to a message he had intended to be positive and diplomatic. But rather than lashing out at the person who posted the Tweet – or worse, suffering in silence – much to my friend’s credit he graciously extended an invitation to the other person, a stranger, to meet him for coffee. And much to the credit of the other fellow he accepted the invitation. “First go and be reconciled to your brother.”
When the two men met they did indeed have obvious differences – a generation apart in age, from very different backgrounds and life experiences, living in different environments, thus having very different political and philosophical views. But what they discovered in their face to face meeting was that they had one thing in common; they were both fellow human beings who cared deeply about the world and the people around them. And because of that one element of common ground they were able to work toward a constructive resolve to their conflict. Not that either changed his political or philosophical views, but they did gain each other’s respect which opened the door for civil conversation, and who knows, maybe even the beginning of a friendship.
Conflict is certainly inevitable among humans. Yet, painful as it often is, the absence of it would eliminate one of the essential components in the advancement of knowledge and understanding. So, I applaud my friend for the grace he extended to his offender, and I applaud the other fellow for his courage in accepting the invitation. What a beautiful demonstration of a constructive response to conflict! And to think it all began with one small humble act: “First go and be reconciled with your brother.”