One of the most reliable ways to solve a fight between two children is to sit them down facing each other. Then ask one of the children to describe the events which led up to the fight. When the child reaches the first point of conflict, ask them to stop. Then have the other child respond by asking, “Do you agree with that, did things happen that way?” Let the second child speak until it gets to the second point of conflict. Once again, stop the child from speaking and go back to the first child.
This process of solving conflict works wonders. It allows each child to clarify what aggressive action was perceived and which one was valid. Once verbalized, the mediator can help each child find a way to avoid future conflict. This process does more than solve a problem, it helps establish the community as a safe place.
Adults, like children, often read more aggression into a statement, or action, than was intended. Then we counter the original persons’ aggression with our own. Now the person who first spoke is on the defensive. Since no insult was intended, they feel attacked. The return aggression is even stronger. It’s human nature and we live into it all the time.
I love social media, but it lacks one thing. The opportunity to reconcile differences face-to-face. On Facebook, friends daily engage each other with points of conflict. Words are read with more aggression than intended. Then countered with even more aggressive words and the cycle continues. Absent of physical contact, it’s almost impossible to discuss where the conversation spun out of control and reconcile. Reconciliation, not agreement, is at the very core of being a follower of Christ.
The Facebook phenomena is not new to the computer age. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians reveals it has been going on since the very beginning. We argue and our arguments threaten the security, health and vitality of the community. Nothing hides the presence of Christ better than unresolved conflict. Today’s reading has a weird but simple point, don’t allow arguments to reach courts. The point lifts up a question, how can we work towards peace and reconciliation today? (1 Cor. 6: 1-8)