The physiology of conflict is pre-historic and rooted in our ancient brain area, the part that makes us react fast and instinctively to the threat of the tiger. It is the ‘Shoot first, ask questions later’ response. Fight, freeze or flee – these responses are ideally suited to facing the tiger, but not well suited to modern life in all its complexity.
The primary fight response escalates the disagreement to the point where the fight has a life of its own and everyone forgets the original trigger. This is how feuds start. How family members stop speaking for years or even forever. This is how peoples of different faiths and cultures end up in conflict that haunts generations, for centuries. Where two or more belief systems clash, forget logic, reason, negotiation and fairness; conflict rapidly descends into chaos, death and destruction. Death to the Different.
Examples of this through the millennia are legion – as well as current. Human-kind has to learn how to resolve disputes or how to live with them. Mediation teaches people to live and let live, work out ways of co-existing, of understanding. It can transform a primitive and instinctive first response into a transformative way out of deadlock. Perhaps we should teach it in schools.