By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
Conflict is an inevitable phenomenon in human relations. Be it at the international, national, state or family levels and units. According to a notable scholar, David Lockwood” there are machnisms in societies that make conflict inevitable and inexorable. For example, power differentials assure that some groups would exploit others, and constituted a built- in source of tension and conflict in social systems. Additionally, the existence of scarce resources in societies would inevitably generate fights over the distribution of these resources. And finally, the fact that different interest groups in social systems pursue different goals, and hence often had to vie with another assured that conflict would erupt”.
Like Lockwood aptly posited, other sources of conflicts are ego, interest, perception to issues, distribution of scarce resources, power interest, among others. Even Biblical characters such as Abraham, locked in one conflict form or the other. In Abraham’s case, it is a classical demonstration of compromise. When there were early signals indicating a serious breakdown of law and order between servants of Abraham and his nephew, Lot, over grazing spaces,Abraham had to consult Lot for a consensus. Even when it was obvious that Lot’s choices of the grazing spaces were not fair, Abraham had to cave in and compromised. Compromise in conflict situations does not portray us as cowards or paint us as weaklings, rather it portraysbus as ardent Christians who are faithfully demonstrating the teachings for nonviolent resistance when we are shortchanged.
As long as there are interests to be protected, egos to protect, varying perceptions to issues, limited powers yo be distributed among power seekers, limited resources to be distributed to be distributed among unlimited population, conflict situations would arise. There is nothing entirely wrong in conflicts. Rather what is important is their management and conflicts.
Shoddily managed conflict situations can trigger wildfires. At this, infernos are usually caused by mere sparks .The most deadly forest fire in the history of the United States engulfed the dry Woodlands of north-eastern Wisconsin in early October 1871. As the fire raged on, the flames and intense heat killed more than 1,200 people and consumed some two billion trees.
This is a pathetic appeal to Abia politicians to adopt the Abraham’s model of conflict resolution to avert the state going up in flames. On this note, if ones political interest is not protected this season, it has not ruled out that in subsequent seasons, ones political interest would not be protected. A classical imagery is that a football constitutes most times over forty players but only eleven players are selected and permitted to compete at a time. Into may not necessarily mean that the 11 players are the best at that material time. Here, Ecclesiastics 9:11 comes into play “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all”. Let us always learn to think Abianfirst, even when our political interest is not protected. Because Abia is our common heritage. It will be antithetical to set it ablaze because of an Individual ambition. Our individual ambitions should not override our collective goals and aspirations.
Like Apostle James’ classical imagery in James 3:6: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” This is similar to the admonition in Proverbs 18:21: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Indecorous and unhealthy languages, rumours and propaganda are inimical to society’s progress. They undermine good human relations. They generate tension, chaos, panic, and can cause a city to evacuate, even when a single bullet has not been shot. Abia will be a better place for all of u if we could heed the biblical injunctions of Exodus 23:1: “You must not pass along false rumours. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand;” and Leviticus 19:16: “You must not go around spreading false stories against other people; don’t do anything that would put your neighbour’s life in danger. I am the Lord.”
On the other hand,ambitions are good. Nothing is negative about ambitions, especially when they are done within the realms of decency and responsibility. What is negative about ambitions is when they are shot beyond every reasonable limit. This negative pursuit of ambitions informed Wolsey’s charge to Cromwell thus”Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition. By that sin fell the angels; how can man then,The image of his Maker, hope to win by it?Love thyself last, cherish those hearts that hate thee;Corruption wins not more than honesty .Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,To silence envious tongues. Be just and fear not;Let all the ends thou aim’st at be thy country’s,Thy God’s, and truth’s. Then if thou fall’st, o Cromwell,Thou fall’st a blessed martyr. Had I but served my God, with half the zeal I served my King, he would not in mine age Have left me naked to mine enemies”.
Cardinal Wolsey, it would be recalled , was adviser to King Henry the Eighth of England, but he was an overly and unscrupulous element.As overambitious elements are not content with their states, Wolsey was not content with the level of wealth he amassed and besides, he had the ears of the King.
Overambitious elements are noted for always going into unholy alliances to satisfy their selfish ambitions, Wolsey connived secretly for an alliance with France, and urges the king to divorce Katharine of Aragon, who has been his wife for twenty years. Wolsey hopes the king will then marry a French princess to cement the alliance. But the king falls in love with Anne Bullen, a Protestant. Alarmed at this turn, Wolsey requests the Pope to delay the divorce. A copy of this letter and an accounting of Wolsey’s wealth, enough to make a king jealous, fall into Henry’s hands. Confronted with the king’s wrath, these evidences of his double-dealing, and the loss of his offices, Wolsey meditates upon the precarious nature of ambition, and then speaks a touching farewell to his servant Cromwell.
Like Wolsey charged Cromwell, Abians let us learn to confine our political ambitions within the limit of decency and responsibility. Let us always remember that political seasons come and go but human relations will not cease to be. Let us remember that political seasons will come and go but Abia will not cease to exists. More importantly, let us have it at the back of our mind that our activities will define what we would bequeath to our unborn children.