Thank you to those who made comments about my previous blog. Your remarks have given rise to some points of clarification and further exploration.
I am not suggesting that differences and conflict are the same thing. Rather, conflict seems to depend upon how we respond to difference; whether we find our perception of a difference compatible or incompatible.
Difference is the substrate and requirement out of which conflict can emerge. For example, imagine that I have a teenage son who likes to cross-dress, and this preference of his is different from mine. We can all imagine the various types of responses I could have to this difference over his clothing preferences.
One possibility is to draw a line and say this is not permissible while you live at home. Another response would be to support his personal expression, allowing him to wear what he chooses while at home and out of the house. And, there could well be more complex responses that give rise to a series of disputes. For example, I may have sensitivity related to our greater family: wearing dresses is acceptable to me on a day-to-day basis, but not for family Thanksgiving at grandmothers.
Both my imaginary son and I can benefit from being creative in how we work with our responses to the difference. This is the conventional view of how creativity relates to difference: disputants can benefit from being creative and imaginative with regard to generating options for resolution of disputes.
The previous blog did not include the above notion; that is, how we respond to difference and the accompanying complexities. It focused on difference itself and the creativity inherent in it prior to any responses to the difference.
I am using the word ‘creativity’ here in a less frequently applied meaning – the general capacity to create something that was not there before. In light of this meaning of creativity:
1) Difference requires creativity;
2) Creativity results in difference.
The creation of a planet, the emergence of a cross-dresser, or the development of a controversial view of a budget are all creative acts that result in new differences. Any difference creates the potential for conflict. Whether an ‘objective’ difference between a set of astronomical measurements or two different ‘subjective’ views of a budget, the differences are all part of the cosmic stew of differences. And, all of the differences have arisen from creativity.
How could that creative origin of the differences that are the basis of a conflict be leveraged to support productive conflict engagement? In closed form, the question is: does the inherent creative origin of differences that subsequently give rise to conflict have any bearing on how conflict can be approached?
I don’t know.
For sure, the creative expression all around us of both human and cosmic origins is perpetually generating differences. When we find particular differences incompatible, we set ourselves on the course of possible conflict engagement.
The creative display of difference all around us is magnificent. While engaged in conflict, we tend to view negatively the differences that are the basis of our conflict. We rarely appreciate the cosmic creative component of their origins.