Rich Elfers’ column often presents thought provoking material and so it was again with his comments on dealing with conflict. However, I might suggest that in spite of his “official” class on dealing with conflict, there is another approach, a sixth method, that is often employed in the real world.
Unlike the five he mentioned, which to varying degrees all seek some form of resolution, the nightly news is full of yet another reality in times of conflict: to antagonize.
Sad to say, there are many who run toward conflict for the primary purpose of fanning the flames. Unlike Competition, they don’t seek to win. Rather, they are content with fomenting discontent.
The current crisis in Egypt is a classic example of those who antagonize in times of conflict. Those groups who are burning Christian buildings are not trying to win, they are trying to incite a reaction. As one pundit mused, they are trying to turn their victims into scapegoats, but so far it appears to be backfiring.
When someone turns a gun on a crowd, like at a school or large place of assembly, they are dealing with some type of internal conflict for which their actions are not designed to bring resolution. That is why they often take their actions all the way to the grave.
In common conversation, those who convey the spirit to antagonize, don’t allow the discussion to make sense or come to any reasonable conclusion. Rather, they distract, poke fun at, change the focus, bring up nonsense, use words with shifted meanings, or do just about anything to frustrate the other party.
It is a defeatist mentality that seems more interested in using the moment of conflict to drag others down instead of actually dealing with the conflict itself. It is the primary method, for those who believe in such things, used by demons. They know their days are numbered and so conflict resolution in their favor is not possible, so their agenda is to make life more difficult for everyone else...and times of conflict are ripe for the picking.
In terms of mediating conflict, this is the type that the Bible instructs to correct twice, then have nothing further to do with them, for they have an “unhealthy interest in quarrels.”