Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Conflict. Everyone has got some conflict in his or her life. Individuals, families, groups, communities, local, state, national, name it. When human beings have differing points of view, the resulting clash is conflict.

Certainly there are degrees of disagreement. There can be a general sense of agreement where the parties are just hammering out some pesky details, all the way to full blown warfare. So, there will be conflict. What happens after that is up to us.

Here are some local conflicts that are on my mind today:

Howard County Schools intend to administer the MSA's this year even though they will not assess what the students are actually learning. Many parents, myself included, object.

Howard County moves to purchase the Verona Apartments in Oakland Mills. Some residents voice serious misgivings.

The State of Maryland implements a fee system to deal with the polluting effects of storm water on the Chesapeake bay. Allan Kittleman (and others) call it a "rain tax" and want it repealed.

I recently observed an online conflict that arose from one respondent's view that any County money spent on the Bridge Columbia project would be money taken away from updating and improving Wilde Lake Middle School. Money. Priorities. Opinions. Conflict.

How do we handle conflict? So many choices are available: do nothing, get frustrated, make snarky comments, write a letter, go to a meeting, get involved, become violent. I'm not advocating violence! But these are clearly ways that people choose in response to conflict. A friend of mine is involved with CRI, which is the Circle of Restorative Initiatives for Maryland. I wish their website were a bit more informative, although I did learn that there's a Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center At Howard Community College. Does anyone out there have experience in working with them?

The word "restorative" intrigues me. When we are in conflict, what do we lose? Should our goal then be winning, or restoring and improving the relationship which is put at risk through conflict?

I'm going to need to learn more and think more.




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