You can’t do it.
Neither can we.
Human beings (all of us) spend a lot of time generating a lot of anxiety, about what will happen tomorrow, what will happen next, or when this thing we’re doing now will all be over.
We can’t help it. Our biology has us wired for fear and anticipation of the next thing over the horizon. But, we believe that the work of conflict is for human beings to overcome their biology.
In our modern, conflict ridden culture, we have the tendency to mythologize the past, as if the people who lived then were somehow less intelligent, less forward thinking, less analytical, and less worried about the future. This orthodoxy of nostalgia is a poison, particularly in the context of a conflict. When we mythologize the people and situations of the past, because the future is unknowable—and thus scary—we hand over power to the worst impulses inside of us.
However, there is a way out, but we have to do a very scary thing first: We have to jettison the orthodoxy that mythologizes and infantilizes past decisions, people, and situations and realize that we will, in turn, more likely than not, be mythologized and infantilized by future peoples as well.
Pride and vanity—in our accomplishments, our technology, our knowledge—are pathologies of the current age. In the age of the present, people elevate themselves over the populations of the past, and become anxious and fearful about how they will be judged and categorized by people yet to be born. The humbling thing to realize is that such pathologies are no more pervasive in people now than they were in people of the past.
Pride and vanity—along with a courage deficit and a need for safety—go a long way toward ensuring that conflicts we thought were over—in our families, our organizations, our societies, our cultures— continue on into the future.
Humility in the face of past, faith in the face of the future, and peace in the situations of the present, lead to not worrying about the future, rather than expending mental, emotional and spiritual energy on trying to predict it, control it, or prepare for it.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org