The few creating conflict for the many

Too often, the few ruin it for the many. I watched in sad disappointment last night as our beloved Canucks lost Game 7 and the Stanley Cup to Boston. But then I watched in horror and shame as a relatively few complete idiots behaved as shamefully as one can behave, painting an ugly picture of our city for the world to see.

That’s not our city, and that’s not Canuck fans. That’s a few people bent on selfish destruction who unfortunately bring the rest of us down with them. I am heartened by the thousands who have joined Facebook groups supportive of our police, and calling for volunteers to clean up our ruined streets. That’s our city, and those are our people.

We feel this as a collective shame, but in so doing we are assuming responsibility for the misdeeds of a select few who were so publicly bent on conflict and destruction while the rest of us gathered peacefully (if a bit sadly). Is that right? Of course it isn’t, but it begs the question as to how much responsibility we must assume for others’ actions to keep the peace or make things right.

On a much less public level, we see this all the time in relationships, in workplaces, in families, in companies. Most go about their business productively, cooperatively, but some continually create conflict, behave selfishly or destructively. Most of us don’t like conflict, so find ourselves doing whatever it takes to appease that person, or make up for their actions, or clean up after them, proverbially speaking. We allow them to continue to behave badly so as to avoid the confrontation, avoid unpleasantness and avoid having to “deal with it”. It’s just easier.

But it’s not easier in the long run and we risk allowing a bad situation to become so much worse. We risk our own happiness, our own success, or the success of the relationship or the venture. Turning a blind eye, or assuming responsibility for someone else’ misdeeds seems easier but may in itself be irresponsible. As I have said time and again, conflict exists, it’s how we deal with it that matters.

What if the many start schooling the few? What if the right we know should prevail, actually does. What if we find ways to say those destructive few “this is not how we do things. This is not right.” What if that squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease. It takes more energy in the short term, but pays off in the long term if individually and collectively we are able to stand up and say “you can’t behave that way, it’s just not right”.

Solving conflict is often about listening and cooperating, but it’s also about speaking out. The many don’t need to suffer in silence while the few loudly rant. If individually we speak out against that which is wrong, collectively we are stronger.

I am not suggesting for a minute that anything that happened last night on the streets of Vancouver was the fault of the thousands who weren’t looting or burning cars; neither am I suggesting that people take their safety in their hands and intervene. But were there those who knew their buddy was bent on destruction and said nothing? Were there people who remained uninvolved, but chose to stay and provide an audience for lunacy instead of leaving the scene and thereby leaving the idiots alone in their destruction?

I am suggesting we take responsibility for promoting what’s right, for not tacitly supporting what’s wrong, and for refusing to let the few ruin it for the many.

Posted on June 16th, 2011 by Renee