Reverence, Conflict, and Contention – Understanding Improves Capability

Several commenters have erroneously confused conflict and contention and harangued me for promoting conflict.  With this article, I intend to dispel the confusion and encourage understanding.  These three principles, reverence, conflict, and contention, are paradoxically connected, and a greater understanding is needed.

Reverence

Some of you think that reverence only belongs in church settings, and frankly, your lack of insight into this word is why we are discussing reverence.  Please, turn off the voices in your head for a minute.  M. Russell Ballard provided etymological understanding for the term reverences pertinent to this discussion.

Reverence may be defined as profound respect mingled with love and awe. … The root word revere also implies an element of fear.  Thus, reverence might be understood to mean an attitude of profound respect and love with a desire to honor and show gratitude with fear of breaking faith of offending.” – God’s Love for His Children

Webster also provides additional insight into reverence.  Reverence contains definitions, including an action to show respect; a feeling of mingled awe, respect, and admiration; veneration; esteem heightened by awe (wonder), as of a superior; especially, such a feeling toward deity.  Finally, we find more insight; reverence includes treating with profound awe (wonder) and respect, or veneration.

Many Christian religions sing a hymn that encapsulates reverence, “How Great Thou Art.”  The first stanza is my favorite:

O Lord my God!
When I in awesome wonder
consider all the works
Thy hands have made,
I see the stars,
I hear the rolling thunder,
the power throughout
the universe displayed.”

Take anything you see out your window right now.  Flowers, trees, grass, snowfall, frost, cars, asphalt, window glass, etc., and consider the hands, science, and creation of that item with wonder.  With awe, consider the birds, bugs, animals, humans in all their variety.  Want to know a secret?  You just showed reverence.  More importantly, you made a choice to open your mind to see past the mundane and explore the higher plains of existence with your human eyes.  What are the consequences of awe and wonder, joy!  Reverence brings joy!  Want to know another secret; one of the most challenging problems all societies face is choosing to show reverence and look with wonder and awe upon the world around us.

I can build a house; well used to be able to build a house, now all I can do is teach my skills to someone else.  But, guess what, I am the first to declare I am no expert, and their remains much I can and want to learn.  Want to know another secret; learning shows reverence and brings joy.  I marvel in awe at craftsmen displaying their skills, be it building a house, fixing engines, creating delectable goodies, or simply watching small children explore the world, I choose to view in wonder the majesty around me, and this brings joy!

What is Joy?  Why pursue Joy?

Joy is defined loosely by Webster as “Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness.”  But does not fully encapsulate what joy is; joy is mental peace, mingled with an uplifting spiritual feeling, leading to physical contentment and feelings of well-being.  Joy is a pursuit, not the object, not the destination, and is a drug you can become addicted to quickly.  However, pursuing joy for pleasure is a pathway to problems, for joy does not contain truth, only the recognition of accomplishment.  Joy is a by-product of choices leading to success in achievement.

The pursuit of joy includes failure, feelings of hopelessness, and even despair, physical and mental pain, and anguish.  Yet, joy is still sought and pursued, why; because at the end of the day, joy occurs when goals are accomplished, and in evaluating the goal, we find the struggle worthwhile!  When we, as individuals, choose to stop pursuing joy or achieving a goal, we die inside, leading to physical and mental disease.  This is why retirement is such a bad idea, why giving up is so physically, mentally, and spiritually destructive, the loss of joy can physically, mentally, and spiritually kill a person.

The lack of joy precedes a loss of hope, bringing with it soul-crushing despair, depression, and opening the door for that individual’s destruction.  Why pursue joy; to avoid the death inherent in hopelessness.

Contention

Let me be perfectly frank, contention and conflict are not the same.  While the terms are close, they are distinct and tell different sides of the same story.  First, contention is an act of striving or an assertion.  Contention is a violent effort to obtain or protect something vehemently!  There is effort, struggle, exertion in contention; there are violent efforts, and the core of contention is pride.  Pride breeds animosity, animosity breeds struggle, and struggle is contention, where pride is demanding that violence is acceptable as a means to achieve the desired end goal.  When contending, “The ends justify the means.”

Contention is animosity personified into action, effort, and desires become evident as contention unfolds.  We cannot forget these facts about contention.  Consider the following; I went to work in a hostile atmosphere; due to a contract signed, I could not quit and find a new job, and reassignment was not going to happen.  Jealousy and pride entered because I was very good at my job, and violence followed like the sun rising after a moonless night.  The result was that contention was born and festered, violence was perpetrated against me, and the violence was acceptable to the leaders as it gave them feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.

The violence was justified because I was “too good” at my job, made “decisions above my paygrade,” and “I needed to be taught humility.”  The result was four disastrous years of struggle, incredible stress levels, and mental torture, with physical acts of violence thrown in to spice up the environment.  Contention is pride expressed through violence and justified to fit the individual’s desires.

Conflict

I have written a lot about conflict, conflict’s benefits, how conflict is a tool, and the dark side of conflict.  At its most fundamental level, conflict is all about helping spur growth, development and bring about change.  However, I cannot stress this enough; conflict is NOT contention.  Conflict is not born of pride and a desire to feel better about yourself through violence.  Conflict can be observed in a disagreement or difference in opinion, but conflict does not include emotional hyperbole (pride).  Conflict should be about mental disturbances spurred by people seeking greater ideas and ideals, personal growth, or team development.  Does conflict lead to contention?  Yes, because pride enters into the disagreement, emotions are injected, and desires to be right at any cost dictate it is time for violence.

My wife and I have a conflict.  She does not like being mentioned, even obliquely, in these articles as she feels it is disrespectful.  I disagree because she has achieved much, and when she is mentioned, even obliquely, it is not to denigrate or deride, but as an example of what can be achieved and what I want to become.  She has gained a lot in self-mastery, and I long to learn how to achieve similarly; thus, it is not disrespect, but profound awe and wonder, mixed with desire, that I mention her.

Our marriage has been a long string of conflicts leading to personal growth, primarily for me.  I have learned that when I feel my emotions begin to boil, it is not her that is wrong in the conflict, but me.  Those emotions are pride screaming, “Oh, please let me be right!”  When the reality is, if I took some time to cool down, mentally focus, and look at my perceptions, I could see where and how I was wrong.  My parents possess a contentious relationship, and many times I have longed to see them divorce and go their separate ways.  I have observed them get into physical fights, watched them argue over BS while something else was the real problem, and I have witnessed several seasons of intense warfare between them.  Hence, I possess a motivating influence to be different, even if I have to unlearn and relearn.

Thus showcasing the significant difference between contention and conflict, growth never occurs in contention, EVER!  Contention only breeds more violence, not personal growth, not individual development, not team cohesion and goal attainment.  When the dust settles from contention, there are generally physical, mental, spiritual wounds and scorched earth between the opposing foes. In contrast, conflict breeds individual growth, personal strength, and goal success.

Leaders, followers, encourage conflict, teach how conflict can lead to contention, monitor conflict closely, and do not try to solve the conflict.  Settle contention, but do not deprive people of conflict.  Use wonder and awe as tools to breed an inquisitive nature and explore with a mind full of reverence.  Therein lay the path to joy; pursue the path!

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

NO MORE BS: Sacrifice and Selfishness – Understanding Begets Power

Personally, I do not care what you believe for religion, nor do I care about your bedroom choices, your skin color, your culture, heritage, or even your clothing or hairstyle.  What you do is more important.  What I do is more important.  How we form a free-thinking society, responsible people who love freedom and liberty under the “Rule of Law” is more important.  I have been called a bigot, a racist, a sexist, and so much more, primarily by ignorant byzantines who projected their own inadequacies, and I happened to call them out.  I have thick skin and big shoulders; you want to accuse me of stupid stuff; that is your choice; thankfully, you will also enjoy the consequences.

What is Sacrifice?

Webster provides multiple definitions for sacrifice; only those contained below are we considering:

      • An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.”
      • A bid made in the belief that it will be less costly to be defeated in the contract than to allow the opponents to make a contract.”
      • Give up (something important or valued) for the sake of other considerations.”

Gary Hamel is quoted as saying, “A noble purpose inspires sacrifice, stimulates innovation, and encourages perseverance.”  Herein lies the importance of understanding sacrifice as a principle of power, a tool for constructing a life, and a mode of understanding the world.  People will always sacrifice for that which they desire; understanding this principle explains many human behaviors and the resulting consequences.

Consider our current (fraudulent) president, Biden.  He has sacrificed dignity, potential, life, and much more to attain in his senility the president’s chair.  I long to ask him if it was worth the sacrifice.  Except, the consequences of the president’s actions have ripped holes in the fabric of America, monumentally increased distrust in government at all levels, and is actively working to ruin America during his remaining days as president.  Hence, we must ask America, was the candidate worth the consequences?

As a principle, sacrifice must be understood as a double-edged sword; it cuts both ways.  Selfishly sacrifice, and you get harmed, selflessly sacrifice, and you gain even as you lose.  Like the double-edged sword, there is no safe spot to stand; you either slide one way or another, and danger lies on the edge of decision making.

What is Selfishness?

Interestingly, selfishness is being selfish, and being selfish is all about “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with personal profit or pleasure,” according to Webster.  More specifically, selfishness is also self-centeredness and realizes that one is only concerned excessively or exclusively for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others.

James Altucher is quoted saying, “Your competition is not other people but the time you kill, the ill-will you create, the knowledge you neglect to learn, the connections you fail to build, the health you sacrifice along your path, your inability to generate ideas, the people around you who don’t support and love your efforts, and whatever god you curse for your bad luck.”  The perfect summation of a life lived as selfish and self-centered.  Thereby presenting a person with some interesting questions, especially for juries deciding guilt or innocence, managers of people in employment, and parents of children.  Do we understand that selfishness is an empty hole that can never be filled?  Do we appreciate that sacrifices made selflessly are many times lost in the selfishness of others?  Will we choose to learn, connect, build, generate, and support?

Speaker Pelosi (D) is the most selfish person it has been my displeasure to know.  Blind to other people’s struggles, refusing to represent her district properly, continuously thinking she is the keystone in American Government and an institution in her own mind who refuses to act in any manner worthy of anything higher than utter contempt.  Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi (D) is not alone in her attitude, actions, or refusal to represent those who elected them to a seat of American power.  If Speaker Pelosi had an ounce of humanity, she would have retired many years ago; instead, she bitterly clings to power and projects her insecurities and ineptitude onto others in her vile and detestable manner and methods.

Why is this topic important?

Sacrifice and selfishness are two sides of the same coin.  The extremes of a decision matrix line, where the person must choose, and cannot long remain neutral.  However, like all things, selfishness and sacrifice can be taken to the extremes, and in the extreme’s bondage, chaos, and trouble lie.  Do we, the lovers of liberty, understand that the extremes of anything bring problems, sickness, death, and disease?

Consider for a moment a friend of mine.  He sacrificed a lot of credit card debt to fund projects that were supposed to help other people.  But in the end, he had to file bankruptcy, he lost his house, he lost his spouse, and too many people thought his “sacrifice” was for selfish ends and hated him for his “gifts,” all while being “grateful for the gift” to his face.  Can a selfish act be a sacrifice worthy of the name; no!  We see this pattern explained in the New Testament when Jesus Christ is teaching the sermon on the mount; he talks about a man who fasts to be seen of men and has his reward not from God, but man.  He speaks of a man who prays on street corners to be seen of men and has his reward.  What is a sacrifice-minded person to do; enter into your closet and petition God in secret, and He who sees in secret rewards openly.

The connection between sacrifice and selfishness is clear, but also the extremes of action in selfishness and sacrifice are also apparent.  We have examples all around us of selfishness taken to extremes and the danger that lies on that path.  We also have examples around us of those who sacrifice selfishly and struggle.  The answer is to balance sacrifice and err on the side of selfless sacrifice; essentially, not running faster than we have strength.

Selfless sacrifice is not a new principle, tool, mode of living, or human capability, but selfless sacrifice requires discernment in making decisions.  Selfless sacrifice requires education, knowledge, and experience and includes failure!  Selfless sacrifice does not have a media cheering section but does come with genuine gratitude by those who know, and the reward is always greater than the sacrifice, law of the harvest.  Selfless sacrifice includes action, trust, hope, faith, and joy.  Paradoxically speaking, one would not involve joy in the activities of sacrifice.  Still, selfless sacrifice does include feelings of joy, hope and can be considered an extension of a person’s commitment to charitably living with others.

Best of all, selfless sacrifice is not a “religious” anything!  I know many great, and good people from all walks of life, and every religious flavor possible, and of them can be said, “They walk as an example of charity, hope, and faith embodied in human frailty.”  Hence, to all the irreligious and atheistic people, you can walk in like manner and have honor without affecting your choice of religiousness.  Selfless sacrifice contains the power to connect with other people, animals, and even plants in a more profound, more full manner than currently enjoyed.

I offer these thoughts for your consideration, hoping that by choosing differently, we can create a truly better world and not just a surface polish.  We, the humans on this planet, can live differently, without ruining our economies, without destroying each other, and without sacrificing freedom and liberty for the chains of government, and bondage to politically powered people.  All I ask is that you think about these principles and take action.  Thank you!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.