I dislike conflict. Some say that’s typical of us Librans. However, I am the first to admit that conflict is crucial to so much of the world’s existence.
In the US, the biggest industry by far is the military hardware industry. That’s an industry that needs conflict for its survival. If a war weren’t happening, it would be necessary for the industry to create one.
Superheroes need villains. Batman, Super Woman and Spiderman would be nothing without dastardly foes.
Team sports also depend on conflict. Imagine your favourite team sport without an opposition.
After a rugby team’s first try, the game would come to a standstill because there’d be no opposition to restart play. There’d be no need for agile backs to evade would-be tacklers. There’d be no need for intimidating forwards to block play.
In a cricket match, an accurate bowler could hit the unprotected stumps. So what?
Even a modestly talented tennis player could hit ace after ace. Somehow I can’t see Wimbledon having the same cache if it were simply a demonstration of serving.
Even the most passionate fans would soon tire of turning up to watch a soccer ball hit the back of the net or a basketball drop through the hoop unopposed.
Many of the world’s democracies have parliaments that operate on a two-party system. Conservative versus liberal. Take away one of the voices and you have dictatorship. Dictatorships have tended to be colourful. And dangerous to the dictatees. (Do you enjoy creating new words? I do.)
We live in societies created around competition. We compete with equally-skilled individuals for a job. We compete with other families to rent a flat or buy a house.
Competition keeps businesses on their toes. Cars are better in open, competitive markets. Ask an Iranian driver about his experience behind the wheel of a Paykan. Or a Russian about a Lada.
The problem with Facebook today is that our page feed is being influenced by our own likes and dislikes. If Facebook’s computer registers that we negatively interact with stories about Monsanto or fracking, then we get lots of stories in our news feed that present further evidence of the evils of Monsanto or fracking – and reinforce our negative feelings.
We end up only reading news we agree with. At a barbecue, we express our anger at Monsanto or fracking to people who share our feelings. As a group we become increasingly convinced that we are right and everyone else is wrong – not that we ever meet those with contrarian views on Monsanto or fracking. In fact, as far as we know, there are no people with feelings that differ from ours.
There’s something dangerous about allowing ourselves to believe that everyone shares our views. Failing to recognise competition makes us complacent. It leaves us vulnerable.
In The Republic, Plato wrote extensively about ethics. And politics. (Yes, a rare combination.) Ethics have no meaning without a reference point. Just because someone doesn’t behave as I do, is she unethical? Or am I the one whose ethics are out of whack?
Without an original thesis, an antithesis is the opposite of nothing – which would make it a thesis.
Without antithesis, tertiary education collapses What’s the point of a professor critiquing your thesis if there’s no alternative to your proposition?
Is this blog the right medium for such philosophical musings? I don’t know. But I presume you share my views on everything.
So, whilst I don’t like conflict, I have to acknowledge that I – well, we – need it. Our businesses need it. Our lives need it.
We need the yang to balance the yin. Without the dark, the light becomes grey. What a dull world that would be!