There are some who suggest conflict is to be avoided at all costs. Nothing is more important than peace. If I push this view to the limit it would seem as if there isn’t a principle, view, or cause that is worthy of conflict. As I look back through history I find example after example of the opposite view. In response to a simple statement by Jesus of walking into a firestorm, “they said, ‘Rabbi, you can't do that. The Jews are out to kill you, and you're going back?’” (John 11.8) If you go further you find people willingly giving up their lives for a simple principle such as honor, trust, and even free liberty.
Recent events have brought this question home. What is worth taking a controversial stand on? Should one wade into the unpopular zone and take a stand on principle? Does one accept a battle because it is the right cause? Are there principles and values that are so overwhelmingly important that they demand one defend them with integrity, compassion, and vigor?
Intuitively I want to say yes. The challenge comes when dealing with the principle makes life more difficult than not. I could compromise on my purpose. Things would be easier, more enjoyable. Yet something would be lost. I wonder if it is possible to understand the risks in the midst of the struggle. Given this challenge and uncertainty, I have developed a simple mantra.
Discover your core values and hold onto them for all you are worth. They are the “things” that define life after all.
Defending one’s values and priorities is no excuse for not being actively compassionate and considerate.
Certain decisions in life are painful; making the wrong (easy) decision will be even more painful because in the end there are lives at stake.
There are few things truly worthwhile that come without a challenge. Conflict is a signal indicating something worthwhile is in play. Discerning the difference between pride and real values is at the heart of every conflict. Welcome to a new day.