I suppose there are all kinds of issues, some more frivolous than others, over which people are conflicted today: the next loser on American Idol; the winner of the NCAA basketball tournament; the designer of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress; the right stocks to select to get back on board economically; is this the right time to buy a new car? In their context, each may seem like an “end of the world” decision, but the reality is that these conflicted issues are minor when compared to the events in the world on this Saturday in March:
- The earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
- The resulting nuclear fiasco in Japan.
- The onset of military conflict in Libya.
- The outbreak of unrest throughout the Middle East.
- Wisconsin-style issues of union vs. the economy.
- The disturbing incidence of crime in American cities and communities.
This list could go on for a long time, but these six items paint the picture. There is crisis enough in the world to keep one’s stomach filled with acid regularly. The way in which you and I respond to such issues (as well as the lesser ones listed at the beginning) is a source of internal conflict. That conflict can be passing and purely intellectual or it can become visceral.
I have to keep remembering that it is important for me to pay attention to world-class issues in order to be informed. But the reality is that there are people far higher than me on the pecking list who have responsibility for doing something about them. I can support Secretary of State Clinton with my opinion and even, maybe, an e-mail. But ultimately it is she and the President, not I, who have the responsibility to provide action regarding the issue. Being conflicted about the global issues is commendable and significant in the sense of being a part of the dialogue. But there is little, other than holding and expressing an opinion, which I can do to participate in the issue.
That, in itself, is a conflicted answer. When it comes to the global environment, for instance, I can slough it off as being too large an issue for me, citing my conflicted feelings about nuclear energy, wind energy, and the other alternative forms of energy production which are available and seemingly softer on the environment and its future. But the reality is that every time I purchase a bottle of water instead of using a Britta, I have engaged myself in the conflicted area. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is.
My list of issues about which I am conflicted could fill a library. More and more, however, given my age, I find myself coming down on a side which makes sense to me, and which I choose to support. There just aren’t enough years left to be content with dialogues and unproductive seminars. The result is an opinion. Sometimes people don’t like my opinions; others do. But that opinion is the result of weighing in on the areas in which I am conflicted, studying it in one way or another, and coming to a conclusion based upon that information. There is also room for a little “gut feeling” in an opinion, and I find that the “gut feeling” is frequently right on the button. The goal is to emerge from a conflicted state into one in which I am capable of contributing something to the overcoming of conflict.