Confrontation

A lot of people hate confrontation, and they do everything they can to avoid it. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s hard for confrontation to lead to a win-win result; usually, someone has to lose, and for many of us we don’t actually feel better if the other person is the loser. We feel guilty, remorseful, or ashamed. Even when a confrontation is necessary, many people will procrastinate, put it off, and secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) hope the issue just goes away.

I began wondering the other night why people dislike confrontation so much. I don’t think, despite what I wrote above, that people are afraid to confront others. That’s too easy, and our motivations are, to be honest, generally more selfish than that. No, I think people are afraid of confronting others because they have never confronted themselves.

People are afraid to confront others because they are afraid to confront themselves. They avoid in others what they avoid in themselves. And I think the reason they are afraid is because they have never confronted themselves.

Someone who confronts their self and wins—who sees something in their self that needs changed, and they face their self to recognize that flaw and change it—can confront anyone and anything. With each success it becomes easier, not because they become more flippant about it, but because they better recognize the necessity. Change does not come without confrontation of some sort, and once you accept that, and then fully understand the need for confrontation, you just get on with it. Change has to happen, confrontation is needed for change, so you confront.

Someone who confronts their self and loses is weak, but they will become stronger with the struggle. So long as they do not grow discouraged and they keep trying, I am confident that they will eventually succeed. And they may still be able to confront others and gain change.

But someone who never confronts their self is a coward. And more often than not, these are the people who run from confrontation with others. They will do anything to avoid it.

So what of people who confront others all the time, yet seem to have never confronted themselves? People whose lives are disorderly, or terribly unbalanced in some fashion, but who always seem to create conflict.

In my experience, these people are likewise unable to or afraid of confronting themselves, and in truth they do not confront others. Rather, they setup straw men and confront those, knocking them down with ease. They talk behind people’s backs, spreading gossip, rumours, and lies, and they will then confront those lies as if they are confronting a great reality that needs changed. And of course, there is no way to achieve change in this situation, because they aren’t addressing a real issue; they can only confront the lies they have created because they are too afraid to face the truth of themselves.

We must always be wary of this. It is easy to spin lies to ourselves, to tell ourselves that someone is lazy or stupid, and then to attack their laziness, instead of admitting that we feel insecure about ourselves in some fashion. It is easier to buy these lies than to take the time to learn about and understand someone else or their situation. And it’s easy for any of us to do this, even someone who has confronted their self numerous times and won. Just because someone recognizes the necessity for confrontation and the importance of change doesn’t make settling for straw men any less attractive. Straw men don’t fight back. They can’t.

What do you think? These thoughts came together on a bike ride home one night, and I don’t consider them altogether complete or comprehensive. But it fits somewhat into my understanding of the world, so it seems like a start to me.

One thought on “Confrontation

  1. I would also say that a person who can not confront can not forgive. Miraslov Volf in his book Free of Charge states that every act of forgiveness is an act of blame. It is impossible to forgive someone without blaming them and that takes confrontation. So instead of forgiving, we excuse.

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