As noted in a recent Mpls Star Tribune article about peacekeeping in South Sudan – http://www.startribune.com/local/144731315.html – conflict is complex. And as noted by Tiffany Easthorn, Nonviolent Peaceforce’s (www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org) country director for South Sudan, ” When it comes to understanding conflict, a good-bad dichotomy is seldom accurate… People in conflict shift positions all the time. Everybody’s a victim, and everybody’s a perpetrator.”
This is a hard truth. Hard to hear. Even harder to accept.
It’s easier when we perceive a clear “good guy” and a clear “bad guy”.
And when we’re part of the conflict, it’s especially hard to accept our part in conflict, because doing so is so counter to our natural urges. Whether our ‘warring” is with our work colleagues, our lovers, our friends, partners, or children, our natural inclination is to defend our self and to blame, shame and fault-find our ‘enemy’. “If only he/she would do such and such, things would be just fine.” “If only he hadn’t said that, we could still be friends.” “She’s such a jerk. There’s no way I can work with her.” These are words I’ve heard a hundred times over, whether from myself or from the parties to a mediation.
Shifting from a reactive stance of blaming and fault-finding to seeing our part in conflict requires presence, self-awareness, curiosity, vulnerability and courage.
The Enneagram can help us gain such awareness and develop a curiosity about the dynamics at hand. And a process called the 4 As can help us manage our defensiveness and reactivity and own up to what we’re responsible for related to the conflict.
Future blogs will explore how our dominant Enneagram Type/Point tends to lock us into positions and create conflict with others. I’ll explore the 4As as a process/path by which we can notice the habits that create challenges for us. And I’ll explore the peace keeping principles of John Paul Lederach and how the Enneagram can help us approach conflict from a perspective and attitude that is indispensible to true peacemaking, healing, and reconciliation.
Join me for the journey. I’m not sure where it will take us.