Chapter Five

Conflict

Getting to Resolution

Human beings have forever disagreed about one thing or another. When early humans were threatened over their rights to a water hole or an animal carcass, they had only two options—fight or flight. They could battle against the threat or withdraw. The Latin root of “conflict” is fligere, meaning “to strike,” and for the Romans a conflict was a clash of arms, a dashing together of bodies, a prolonged struggle to the death. By the fifteenth century, the meaning of the word “conflict” had expanded to include disagreement over ideas, although it retained the connotation of a battle, as it does today. We still think of conflicting interests as incompatible and conceive of conflict as having winners and losers ...

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