From the perspective of narrative, all drama is conflict, and you can’t have a story without drama. But in terms of our lives, in theory, many of us would probably like to mitigate conflict as much as possible. Many people manufacture conflict in the form of drama when natural conflict doesn’t already arise. I think this is something that can be undone, I don’t think it has to be that way, but I’ve seen it plenty. Bored people have so much drama in their lives, even if precious little genuine conflict. So—as the famous Chinese curse says—may you live in interesting times.
We’ve always known that narrative depends on conflict. You can’t tell a story without an internal or external conflict. Maybe it isn’t only true in fiction. Maybe we do thrive on conflict.
I think—I hope I’m wrong—that class stratification, tensions from increasing pressures driven by corporate owned resources, etc in coming decades invariably leads to a place where the disenfranchised, otherwise well-intentioned individual can’t help but become some form of outlaw. “We” need cells, safe-houses, methods for the production and securing of goods, value to some extent excluded from corporate control. This is an incredible undertaking, one which most of us are in no way prepared for. But parenthood is also a tremendous undertaking which most are not prepared for. We may have to learn as we go or die trying.
To go beyond that point, we need to ask, in what can “we” be constructed without re-capitulating the Us / Them process? This posture is biologically conditioned, but biology itself is not entirely immutable.
Unicellular to multi-cellular evolution took a seemingly inordinate amount of time, that is, until you consider the systemic leap that is required between a single unit, with a single will, and multiple units with a shared will. (Though it’s worth mentioning that even unicellular organisms seem to communicate via a chemical language.) This complexity certainly shouldn’t be lost on anyone who has tried to make a decision when in a group, and how the layers of expectation and posturing, demand and avoidance, can compound until it is quite simply impossible for the group-as-such to make a decision at all, and it invariably fragments in any number of ways. In layman’s terms, democracy is slow and often irritating.
This is problematic not just in the most obvious sense—in the sense in which any being that thinks of itself as having a singular will – must attempt to couple that with an overarching group objective. “Agreement” so often demands compromise, conquest, even genocide; conflict is the result not necessarily of flaw, but rather an abundance of divergent wills. The natural world is rife with conflict and fecund birth-conflict-consumption-death for this very reason. Life has always been “against all odds,” not an agreement met and reached through parliamentary debate.