As long as humans live together, there are bound to be moments of friction, disagreement, misunderstanding, and tension. Most times, disputes begin unintentionally like little sparks of fire but when not properly managed, they begin large balls of fire capable of bringing down whole communities.
At the bottom line of most of our quarrels are:
This is the natural tendency in every human being to refuse to accept that he or she is wrong. Yes, I may be right but I need to consider the fact that from the other person’s perspective, I may be wrong as well. It is not a matter of knowing who is wrong, but a matter of humbling myself to accept that I am not perfect.
Anger is a type of disease. I call it a dis-ease not in terms of a medical condition but in that when one is angry, he or she is no longer as ease. Anger is a natural defence mechanism which is triggered when the body senses danger, oppression or disrespect.
Anger leads to hatred and a strong desire to make the other person sad but then the more we try to take away the happiness of others consciously and unconsciously, we only succeed in reducing our own peace and happiness.
- Attachment to Material Things
It is difficult to hear people quarrel over purely spiritual things. Most of our quarrels are fuelled by our extreme love for the things of this world for instance money, possession, property, rights or privileges. We fight to get back what others have taken away from us forgetting that we brought absolutely nothing to this world.
- Refusal to Forgive
Forgiveness is very strong medicine. Like most medicines, it is very bitter and could even involve piercing oneself with a needle (injection), but the effects are wonderful. We often withhold forgiveness because we feel justice has not been served or because the other person is yet to apologize. The truth is that the longer it takes us to forgive, the longer our healing waits.
In all of this, Jesus Christ himself gives a solution to solving quarrels and disputes. He said, the first step should be to go to the person who has hurt us ONE on ONE. Matthew 18:15. This first step is often the most difficult to do. People get to hear what others have done to us long before we even summon courage to approach the person who offended us.
It is only when the one on one encounter fails that we can now involve one or two others. Take note, Jesus said, one or two others not the whole community immediately. And this one or two should be persons well respected capable of brokering peace without bias; persons who are not afraid to tell us the truth if we are the ones wrong.
It is only after the one or two cannot solve the problem that it then becomes a community affair. And I am very sure, Jesus meant this as a last resort. By this time, it becomes clear that the person involved has actually refused to let go of the quarrel.
Jesus then goes on to talk about prayer which is basically our human attempt to involve God in the matter. Jesus says: “When two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20. Let God be involved in the matter. There is no judge as wise or as impartial as God himself. Allow God to settle the dispute by putting the whole matter before him in prayer while you relax and watch events unfold.
In conclusion, the keys to settling disputes are humility (putting yourself in the shoes of others), letting go of Anger, letting go of attachment to material things, consciously deciding to forgive and above all following the 3-step plan of Jesus which culminates in prayer.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me wisdom to handle disputes and quarrels. Amen
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Wednesday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Deuteronomy 34:1-12 and Matthew 18:15-20).