Scrum Notes 2013-20

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Conflict Revolution ▶️

Happiness is a garden walled with glass: there's no way in or out. In Paradise there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It's loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road.1

Conflict revolution. Yes, that's a V. It's not a spelling error. I've had some experiences this month that have highlighted a desire common to our time—the desire for everything to be nice. Arguments, fights, differences of opinion, disagreement, distress, dismay, anger, unhappiness, annoyance, exasperation and simple displeasure all become things to be fixed.

Dwelling amongst life coaches, corporate change agents, and others trained in the helping professions it may be more apparent on my horizon than yours, but look out for it. You'll see it too. You'll see it when parents get together, how they won't let their children disagree and be cross, but always insist they make up, share toys, be friendly, be nice to one another. You'll see it when people turn away from loud arguments on the street, blocking out the discomfort. You'll see it at work as managers and HR representatives attempt to resolve difficult situations, have people get along, be "team players". And you'll probably experience it in your own home.

It plays out through blocking, silencing, ignoring, coercing, compromising and even in genuine acts of peace-making. In my work community it plays out as triangulation: third parties offering to facilitate, counsel, or otherwise create space for the conflicting parties to resolve their differences. As if that's the most important thing of all. It isn't.

It's not that I want to be grumpy, be in conflict, or encourage conflict around me. I don't. But equally I do not want to be afraid of it. We're in danger of refining our relationships to such a degree that all the shape, color and energy goes out of them, all the weird madness is subdued, and we are left in an engulfing blandness, where everything is just...nice.

So we need a revolution—a conflict revolution. I reckon we need to start embracing our conflicts, letting them penetrate below our skin, right to the heart; feeling them, letting them work their way through us, experiencing the discomfort. Who knows what might happen? It's loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward. This month I discovered, at least, that resolution-avoidance is possible, and living in the subsequent confusion and hurt is actually quite energising. I don't exactly know what I've learnt, but in the words of the great Yusuf Islam, "I think I see the light."

1From The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

London, 27/07/2017   comment