On Conflict and Calm

Before jumping into another person’s battle, first ask yourself whether or not their cause is righteous and just, and whether or not they actually need your help.

In a day and age where so much conflict is public and publicized, it is easier than ever to find ourselves leaping to the defense of a friend, an acquaintance, or even a stranger with whom we think we agree. We have forgotten that conflict should be withheld for when it is inevitable, unavoidable, and only absolutely necessary. Furthermore, we have forgotten that most conflict, real or imagined, is more easily resolved without our added participation.

Conflict is a destructive force that requires time and energy, both of which are finite resources, that could otherwise be spent doing something creative and helpful. Beyond that, conflict, even virtual conflict, has real consequences. No one leaves the other side conflict, whether entered voluntarily or involuntarily, unscathed and unaffected in some way.

We should not turn our backs and look the other way when someone, especially someone we care about, truly needs our assistance. Nor should we sacrifice our integrity and back down, give up, or give in simply to avoid conflict. We should, however, practice calm restraint and reserve our time and energy for those rare instances when conflict is totally unavoidable, when the cause for which we would be fighting is worthy of our sacrifice, and for when our participation would potentially lead to resolution, not simply more conflict.

Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Artwork by Ana, except where otherwise noted.

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