There are many obstacles in the world today to a peaceful and harmonious situation. The conflicts and difficulties that people engage in are on a global level, national levels, state levels and organizational levels as well as family and personal levels. Human beings must learn to resolve their conflicts through open and respectful communication, understanding differences, accepting differences and finding common ground amid their unique experiences. This is true in global settings; this is true in national settings; this is true in all government, in business and in religious organizations and spiritual organizations as well as in families.
North Korean Conflict When people break off communication and refuse to discuss and find common ground, then trouble arises. This is true for all types of conflict. So, if Mr. Trump decides he would rather slander North Korea and not communicate, not find out what their needs are and how those needs can be worked with, then what happens? A polarization happens between forces and the people come into a situation of not talking to each other. So, the United States is not talking meaningfully to North Korea or vice versa. North Korea, feeling threatened, will naturally continue to defend itself, as it feels is most effective. The more desperate they become, the more likely they are to develop arms and to use them. The more fearful the United States becomes of losing its power or of destruction by the people they are not talking to, the more they will act in an aggressive fashion. So, with these two forces, unwilling to talk, there is a tension that must find resolve. Either they will talk or something else will happen, isn’t it?
Group Conflict The same happens in all human relations -- in different groups, spiritual groups, companies and organizations, even families. When one group refuses to talk to another and instead starts to form a collective negative opinion, the gap grows and it will continue to grow, because of the lack of viable communication. Whether it be on an international level or on a very personal organizational level, the lack of viable communication leads to distrust. Even in families this happens, and so you have a family feud for twenty years with people not talking to each other.
When this happens each side begins to develop a story about the other side. This can happen weather it be on a national level, an organizational level or a personal family level. Then over time the story becomes more and more real It gains a life of its own. So the negative story about the "other" that maintains the lack of communication, the lack of respectful inquiry and effort to resolve differences, that story gains solidity in the minds of the people who believe it. Thus human beings divide from each other. Then an attitude of "I and my group" as opposed to your group develops. There is now an 'other;' and, in the gap, the "other" is demonized, slandered in some way because there is no communication to bridge that gap, to find the common humanity you share and loving kindness towards each other. This is a spiritual deficit, When this occurs, be it in international relations, national relations, companies, spiritual organizations or families, it is the same dynamic. it is the same dynamic of loss of love.
Slavery So, there is a problem, and the problem occurs repeatedly on all levels. The problem comes when either both sides, or one side unilaterally, decides to break off communication. They cannot find a common denominator and the human connection is broken. Why is it that human beings can own other people as slaves and feel no remorse or sadness? They are so loving to their own children and their friends and families, to their own community, yet they see the "other" as below them and they treat another in ways that are utterly cruel. In these situations people tend to develop two standards, one for the people they feel are part of their group and another for the group that they have a lesser opinion of. Why? Because they have not bridged that gap of communication and found the common denominator; and, instead they have woven a story, a belief about who they are and who the other is. In this way slavery becomes acceptable to human beings.
Those human beings who accepted slavery are no different than other people. The only difference is that they did not communicate and find their common humanity with those they considered slaves and they accepted the group story about the other. They joined into it; and, so their actions were cruel. Today someone may judge them saying “how can such people be that way,” but they are no different than anyone else. They just accepted the group norm, and they divided themselves from the "other" and did not bridge that gap of humanity to find their commonality. People can do highly cruel things to other people, who they consider not a part of their group, not a part of their community and to whom they attribute negative traits. In the case of slavery, they attribute traits of not completely human, maybe lazy, maybe completely different, so they can separate themselves and project.
The Nature of Conflict The same dynamic can occur in international relations. It is a foreign country. We don’t understand those people. They are different. They are crazy. So, the North Korean leader thinks that Mr. Trump is crazy; Mr. Trump thinks that he is crazy. Why? They don’t talk to each other. Someone should lock them in a room together for three weeks and then see what happens. But, they are not unlike many other people. There are many other people who do the same thing, perhaps not as flagrantly as those two gentlemen. They are very outrageous in their words. Some people are a bit more dignified in their words. But in a conflict their judgements, the feeling of them and us, the unwillingness to be open and honest and to have viable communication, the unwillingness to see the needs and feelings of another -- these are the same in all conflict situations.
Conflict does not arises simply because there are different intentions, but because the parties refuse to understand each other, refuse to communicate, want to dominate. One party wants to dominate another, rather than communicate. They can dominate by silence, not having any interaction. They can dominate by blasting the other with interactions that are non-communicative. Either way, all dominance comes because one group -- whether it’s a nation or family or an organization -- gets a collective idea or belief about the one they don’t communicate with and they sustain it. It becomes self perpetuating and the longer it goes on, the wider the gap, The more imbedded and enmeshed the belief systems become, the more the two parties become hostile. They can have a war of words, a war of silence, or a war of violent actions, but all are wars.
What to do when such divisions occur? Usually, they can not be resolved by the parties themselves because both parties become very invested in their separate negative stories about each other. The only real solution lies in breaking down those stories with truth and in each party listening to the needs of the other. If the United States listened to North Korea's need to be recognized to feel secure and if North Korea listened to the needs of the United States to feel safe and have a stronghold in world politics for its own security, then perhaps the two could find a meeting ground. As they began to respectfully talk to each other and interact, meet the others needs, compromise a bit, perhaps they would grow more similar; the cultural integration would begin to occur and the tension diffuse.
But, as long as North Korea will only build missiles to keep itself safe by being able to destroy the United States, the United States will not listen; their approach is faulty. As long as the United States will not listen to the demands and needs of North Korea for respect and assistance to get them on the right path, North Korea will become more and more of an outlaw. If they can not find a good path, they wild find any path. If they can not be praised and brought into the fold of international relations, they will become an outlaw and they will act as an outlaw. So, both sides refuse this viable communication and, thus, a situation of great strain has been created.
As I have said, this dynamic is very common in all levels of human interaction. If the parties will allow a third party to come and to assist them to break down the barriers, the negative beliefs towards each other that they have set up and the self-defense, then slowly, slowly communication can form and integration becomes a possibility. The other option is oppression, one dominating the other or a cold war – stand off. This conflict resolution is an essential need in human society. When two parties have become set in the negative beliefs towards each other and in their aggressive actions towards each other and their unwillingness to talk to each other, it becomes necessary to have an intermediary -- but both must accept the authority of the intermediary.
Human beings have the tendency to revert to aggression and self-defense when they feel threatened. They have the tendency to identify with a group and a group dynamic and to create a situation of them and us, where there is a defensive demeanor towards other. So, this group-ism, this identity with one’s primary group, be it a nation, an organization or a family (as opposed to another) becomes the source of struggle, discord, and violence -- all too common in human society. Human beings have made efforts over the millenniums to control violence, but those efforts have not been successful and war has been a part of human society -- wars in families, between families, between clans, between tribes, between nations on small scales and on large. Efforts to do harm to the other, to secure ones position, are always there. Efforts to dominate and oppress others with one’s own position, these are a part of the change taking place in the world today. Under stress and strain, these primal tendencies of human beings increase as fear increases in the minds of people.
Movement Towards the Future In the transitions of the world today, there is a movement away from the prior aggressiveness into a world of communication and interwoven connections. But, in this movement there is also resistance and struggle and today’s situation reflects that struggle. Old ways rise to the surface when people feel afraid and great destruction can ensue. The solutions lie in viable compassionate communication, in the efforts to understand each other, and to find the common humanity and loving kindness within the hearts of each, rather than to reinforce the separate stories about the faults and failings of the other. Conflicts come in everyone’s life, not only in the lives of nations, but of people, ordinary people. Each person struggles within themselves with these very tendencies, but as mind grows in magnitude and one comes closer to divinity, there is less of a tendency in this direction. Yet, there are times in the spiritual path where these tendencies rise up to be worked with. These are primal tendencies of the human mind and the human society, but they need not dominate the human society. There will come a time when war is a thing of the past and human beings will not resort to this violence, or the type of psychology that causes violence.