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Imagine being presented with a terrible, mind-numbing conflict. How would most people react? Would there be aggravation? Would there be an icy desolation? Or even utter joy? Of course, these are quite a few ways people would react when confronted with a difficult situation, but it most likely that the best way to respond to conflict is to stay calm, and remain in a “neutral position.” Quoting former president, Ronald Reagan, “ Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
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One reason to believe approaching a conflict in a relaxed manner is because it can prevent the situation from escalating further. For example, if two siblings were to fight and keep yelling back and forth, the siblings are encouraging one another to yell even more and possibly louder. This can escalate the fight. However, if one sibling were to stay calm, the other sibling will not truly have someone else to fight with, therefore, the conflict will decrease.
As stated in the text of the play, The Diary of Anne Frank, quoting Anne and Margot, “Anne: [violently rebellious] Margot! Margot! Margot! That’s all I hear from everyone… how wonderful Margot is… “Why aren’t you more like Margot?’” “Margot: [Protesting] Oh, come on, Anne, don’t be so…” As mentioned in the script, Margot had kept a calm manner and tried to keep Anne from fighting. It is possible that if Margot had yelled back to Anne in response, the conflict would have heightened even more by causing a fight between Anne and Margot. As stated in the text of the Diary of Anne Frank, Mrs. Frank recklessly states, “Mrs. Frank: [Paying no attention, going in to Mrs. Van Daan] Don’t think I haven’t seen you! Always saving the choicest bits for him! I’ve watched you day after day and I’ve held my tongue. But not any longer! Not after this! Now I want him to go! I want him to get out of here!” Day after day, before this, Mrs. Frank had prevented a fight by simply proceeding with a calm tone, but in this part of the play, Mrs. Frank had broken her silence and caused an even greater tension between the Van Daans and the Franks as well as Mr. Dussel. Secondly, keeping a composed attitude can keep individuals from making an unreasonable decision during a heated conflict. For example, coming back to what Mrs. Frank had hollered ( “Mrs. Frank: [Paying no attention, going in to Mrs. Van Daan] Don’t think I haven’t seen you! Always saving the choicest bits for him! I’ve watched you day after day and I’ve held my tongue. But not any longer! Not after this! Now I want him to go! I want him to get out of here!”), after breaking her silence, she had made the dangerous, unreasonable decision to remove the Van Daans from their hiding place. After countless years of hiding and coexisting in peace, she could’ve prevented an outburst like this if she had calmed down and thought out her decision, but she hadn’t.
Another example is when Peter was about to hit his dad with a chair, but stopped himself realizing he was making a poor decision. As stated in the text, “[He pushes Peter away. In his anger against his father Peter grabs a chair as if to hit him with it, then puts it down, burying his face in his hands…]” If Peter had hit Mr. Van Daan with a chair, Peter most definitely would’ve revealed the Franks and the Van Daans to the thief (even though the thief already discovered the Franks and the Van Daans even if Peter didn’t hit his father with a chair, it would’ve heightened the chances even more of the thief hearing the two families). Thirdly, it’s better to react with a placid manner, for it can help the individual to keep a neutral attitude, or even upgrade to a swell attitude. Take Anne Frank for an example. Before the Franks and Van Daans were about to go into hiding, Anne Frank and Peter said, “Peter: You can’t throw…? Something they branded you with…? That they made you wear so they can spit on you? Anne: I know. I know. But after all, it is the Star of David, isn’t it?” Instead of reacting the Peter’s comment in anger, she responded with a cool-headed tone, saying that she simply cannot throw it away, for it is the Star of David. In addition, if one keeps a mellow profile, then they shall progress to happiness. For example, during the Revolutionary War, even when the Japanese were treated with great disrespect, they never truly caused any trouble, for they remained calm during the worst times.
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Of course, there are quite a few counter-arguments that can be made against my claims. To start off, a counter-argument that can be made against my first argument (P2) is that even if a calm manner can help avoid a situation from possibly escalating further, it does not always happen, for the angry individual can simply ignore the other individual who is trying to keep the argument at bay.
However, my rebuttal is that even if the disturbed individual ignores the calm individual, the angry individual will not be able to form more arguments, for they have no one else to argue with, therefore the argument most likely won’t be able to escalate much further. For a counter-argument against my 2nd reason (P3) is that conflict is not always an argument.
Conflict can be a lack of supplies, trapped on a deserted island, etc. My rebuttal to this argument is that in any situation at all, if you keep a calm manner, it is much easier to reason with yourself into making the right decision in the end. Finally, the last counter-argument is that calm doesn’t necessarily translate to a good attitude. However, my rebuttal is that a calm manner will keep you from seeing the bad side of things, and at least keep you in a neutral position. In conclusion, a calm manner would most likely be best to have during conflict.
Whether there’s a war, diminishing food supplies, etc. staying equable will always be able to keep you glowing even when there is no light. Quoting Greg McKeown, “Take a deep breath. Get present in the moment and ask yourself what is important this very second.” When you ask yourself this, and revert to peace, you’ll finally be able to see the truth: that the conflict isn’t what’s most important, how you react to the conflict is most important.
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