Australia is known for many things, none other than its eucalypt tree, or more lovingly known as gum trees. Each year, with the heat and dryness, a spark may be caught by a fallen leaf, and with the fuel of the eucalyptus oil, giving rise to our annual bushfires that rages through many areas of the land. All is destroyed in its path, but evolutionary adaptation has guaranteed that the seeds of these trees not only withstand fire, but sprouts once it is burnt. Its resilience then paves way for new growth, new beginnings, new bushes, new life.
I believe that the universe is a macrosystem of homeostasis, being that the equilibrium of balance is constantly adjusted. Conflict is a symbol for change, the moment in which the culmination to this point of intense energy needs to be shifted. This period of conflict is what I perceive and have experienced, as an important point to explore alternatives, expand our use of creativity in problem solving, and re-negotiate the balance of interests. This is the crucial moment between all involved, because it is a poignant reminder to allow the bigger picture to resurface.
Yet despite the power in which conflict holds for change, it is avoided in majority parts of the modern society for its association with violence. Violence, is perhaps one of the most accessible and easiest means to respond to the hurt, pain and emotional intensity that arises from these moments. However, rather than to respond to conflict with the fiery rage of violence, I believe that the power of non-violence, empathy and compassion to resolve conflict has a deeper, more resilient and sustainable impact for greater change.
This is the point from which I diverge from the analogy of the bushfire. Human beings are not hardened, emotion-less seeds to withstand the repeated bouts of trauma. I look to inspiring world leaders whose words, actions and ideas have moved me, and a commonality is their choice to respond to conflict with compassion and courage, and whose values surpass beyond themselves in order to sustain a collective need for an even greater change. The deeds of Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, just to name a few, have the embedded message that such compassionate responses to conflict does take time, energy, patience and courage. These are virtues which I believe is in all of our capacity to realise, but may be overshadowed by individual and collective fear and doubt that equally requires these virtues to overcome.
I have experienced conflict through family and personal relationships, and have witnessed the consequences of professional conflicts. I have come to appreciate the Janus-face of conflict as both a process of pain and healing. Most conflicts I have witnessed and experienced were shaped by conditions of miscommunication, which once addressed, can pave way for catalysing the healing process. Healing, and the shedding of the old selves, cannot be done without the experiences of conflict, from which I have also come to appreciate as a symbol for new growth. As is the process of nurturing a seedling, this new beginning will be greatly fostered with language that generates compassion and empathy, to allow the re-introduction for negotiation, inclusiveness and diplomacy for all involved.
The internal struggles for individuals translate to the external world in politics and societies. I view each as a mirror of the other, with the appreciation for the knowledge and application of compassion through mindful words, actions and intentions. As it is in music, conflict is an integral part of our societies, for which a constant negotiation of balance of all interests is needed and adjusted. Negotiation, mediation and diplomacy are communication skills to foster key ingredients to instill compassion, kindness and a sense of collective inclusiveness. Much like a musical work that paints the aural picture of conflict through dissonant, unresolved tension that builds up to a dramatic climax, the resounding softness in dynamics and thinning of the textures carry messages of empathy and kindness to support and acknowledge all that has led to the transitions as the music flows. In this way, my training as a concert pianist all my life inclined my mind to appreciate the strength of resilience that empathy and compassion allows in the face of tension and conflict.