PPTS Pt.2: Structures of Conflict

To read Pt. 1: Post-Paris Tears Speak PT. 1: Bodies

The terror that invaded Paris on Friday night seems so far away, so distant.  When I use the word distance, I am not referring to geographical location, but I am speaking about the space between ourselves and the attackers.  We understand the terrorist’s actions to be so foreign, so alien.  We discover their actions to be so easy to loathe.  We perceive their actions to be so vulnerable to our condemnation.  And that is not completely wrong.  The ideologies and decisions of those terrorists should be placed on the contemplative chopping block.  We do need to bring these matters into question.  But, we also need to recognize that we are not completely innocent of this discussion.  I confidently claim that humans are creatures of conflict. On Friday night, the terrorists provided sustenance to their hunger for conflict.  In some regards, we are no different.  A good soccer game, engaging in an entertaining political debate, an attempt at converting someone — conflict isn’t necessarily bad because it is inherent to us.  But, we have to recognize that we are all creatures of conflict and that we act out of that desire in different ways.

Why do we engage in conflict?  We as humans have a tendency to desire to achieve immortality. We desire to perpetuate our existence for forever.  We have nothing to fear except death itself.  We cannot imagine not living.  We cannot imagine a conclusion on of our days that are usually filled with consumption, travel, people, happiness, joy, music, food, sex, self-gratifying attention, etc.  As a result, we then perform actions to construct an eternal life for ourselves.  We are quick to locate entities that would threaten that immortality.  We then act in a conflicting manner towards those seemingly threatening forces to be able to preserve our existence.

We love conflict.  We feed off conflict.  I can reflect on my experiences at this moment in how much conflict factors into my existence and motivation to live.  I am attending college because I am at conflict with the expectations and norms of our society.  I need to be able to have some sort of job to be able to satisfy my biological necessities.  I am taking sociology because I am, at times, learning about oppressive social structures and I desire to learn how to be in conflict with them.  I believe in a God because there are depressing, dark narratives that exist in this world that I desire for a being higher than myself to address and solve.  I am not claiming that conflict is my sole motivation for deciding to do things.  But, I also cannot deny that conflict plays a very significant role in inspiring me to do something.  I would like to claim that this is applicable to every person’s life.  We must acknowledge that conflict is a life-giving force that generates entities.

We are bored without conflict.  We like to feel that we are engaged in some great and righteous battle.  Moreover, we like to feel that we are winning that great and righteous battle.  Isn’t this what sports are all about? I can think for my own self in situations when I have messed up and have done something that was wrong.  After I recognize my wrong doing, I soon after feel encouraged by the idea that I will “do better next time.”  I feel encouraged by the fact that I am engaged in a battle for the pursuit of my perfection.  I feel even more encouraged to work harder in my pursuit of perfection because that means that I am winning this battle that I am engaged in.

Studying sociology, I am forced to think nothing to be random or mutually exclusive.  Sociology looks at the world and observes the structures that govern it.  These structures aren’t necessarily operated by CEO’s or presidents, but they can instead be directed by ideas.  Conflict is an idea.  Conflict is an idea that we all hold and value.  If it is true that we all love conflict, then wouldn’t it make sense that we unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally) create a structure of conflict.  This social structure of conflict either creates opposing forces or makes us believe that there are opposing forces that exist (which may or may not be true).

To read Pt. 3: PPTS Pt. 3: Structures of Violence


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