Community conflict

16 There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 6, Verses 16-19, New International Version)

Pretty amazing! From God’s perspective, stirring up conflict in the community is on a par with shedding innocent blood. Although I’ve read these verses hundreds, maybe thousands of times, today they speak to me with a new emphasis. They serve me with a double-edged warning. Stay away form such folks, and even more importatly, don’t be one! The community where you live is important to God! Build it up. Don’t spoil it. Who wants to be detestable to God? Not I. Praise God for his Living Word, for His Rhema Word that jumps off the page and into my life.

So how do you build up your community? There are wealthy philanthropists who fund libraries, parks, hospitals, and nurseries. Praise God for these folks. Then, there are guys like me. I like to walk and pray early in the morning. I take one or two small plastic bags with me as I head out to the park near our home. I use the bags to pick up trash and dog poop. The park is next to an elementary school. During the week, lots of parents and kids walk through the park on their way to and from school. On the weekends the park is full of families, little league soccer teams, picnics, etc. I want the kids to see a clean park. I want them to learn to respect nature and the public commons from a very early edge. So I pick up trash and dog poop. It makes me friends.

If you can, build a park for the community. If you can’t offer such a gift, just help keep the park or the sidewalk or the bus stop clean. It builds your community probably more than you can know.

By A. Allen Rowe

Asad Abu Antun

3 replies on “Community conflict”

The post confuses caring for and maintaining a community with conformism to the status quo. Is it hateful to the Lord, for example, for a person to advocate heliocentrism in a society that accepts and punishes those who disbelieve in geocentrism? Is that “stirring up conflict.” Is defying the status quo hateful to the Lord simply because others might vehemently disagree and result in conflict? I think not.

Mike makes a great point here. I believe the issue depends on the difference, in my personal dictionary at least, between conflict and controversy and the motive in each case. To me to “stir up conflict” is to pit people against people for personal aggrandizement or for revenge or just out of spite. On the other hand, to stir up controversy is to pit ideas against ideas for the sake of bettering the community and possibly serving such lofty objectives as truth and justice.

A good example of the type of case Mike gives is the subject of Thomas’ Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn explains how advancement in science involves a period of intense controversy over what is scientific truth. This period of controversy is necessary for moving from one major paradigm to another.

Mike’s comments also bring to mind one of my favorite life principles, the dialectic. I believe that it is extremely rare for any human to possess absolute truth. We make our way toward truth primarily through the encounter of thesis with antithesis from which results a synthesis. This synthesis then becomes the new theses that invites encounter with a new antithesis and the process continues.

In summary, a community does well if it can respect the humanity and rights of all individuals but can still engage in controversy as needed to find right solutions and right decisions.

The recent and continuing dysfunction of our national government illustrates the current tendency in our society to manifest personal disrespect due to ideological differences. I would like to see a government where controversy rages while human dignity trumps intrapersonal conflict

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