There are four literary conflicts –
Man vs Nature
Man vs Man
Man vs Society
Man vs Himself
In life, we do not cure conflicts, we manage them. Therefore our management skills must be honed and adapted throughout life. We can be taught to think by our parents and social circle and never change that pattern. We can also view life experience as outcomes and then alter our behavior to change those outcomes. This ongoing laboratory is called life. You have to be aware of your history or be doomed to relive it.
Sometimes this burden of challenge becomes overwhelming. Rather than turn inward for the answers, we turn outward for the culprit. We need an enemy. By focusing on an outward metaphorical villain, it eases the personal responsibility of change. In fact, the ability to take charge is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal. If we are not controlling our destiny, then who is? If “THEY” are,.. then you really are screwed, you are a victim of their whims. However if YOU accept responsibility, then anything is possible.
When the problem is someone else’s the solution seems clear. When you strip away the emotional packaging of any conflict, deducing the remedy is a lot easier. That’s why it’s easy for others to tell you to stop dating someone or how much to spend on a new car. It’s easier, but not better,.. decision are like chariots driven by two horses. One is emotion and the other is logic. That’s why Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock made such a great team. [read more in, “How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer]. The restraint we are often held by is that we moralize things into good and bad. If we simply viewed results as outcomes we could strategize and become more effective at reaching goals.
Part of the ability to strategize is from comparing and organizing evidence. If we don’t understand the nature of evidence or science, it impairs us. One clue is those who often use the the words, “Believe” or “Beliefs”. These words have nothing to do with science. They are based on faith. So if you find yourself using these in the context of decision making, stop it. If you find someone else using them in a science or logic based argument,… run like hell. They are simply ignorant, stupid or both. Don’t drop to their level.
Now the above discussion is based on someone taking adult responsibility for their actions and outcomes. Usually that’s not the case. It’s fundamentally easier to blame others, society or nature. We can demonize them into horrible, giant, monsters. This would cover several of the literary concepts of conflict. Such as-
Man vs Nature-
“The weather sucks,.. why does it always rain?,… I hate this heat!”
Man vs Man-
“People are out to get me,….they hate me because I’m [fill in the blank]”
Man vs Society- [a list of enemies]
“Government, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party, Liberal Medial, Big Pharma, Western Medicine, FDA, News Media, Monsanto, Music, TV, Madison Avenue, Federal Reserve, Illuminati, Tri Lateral Commission, Pornography, Oil Companies, etc. etc”
Man vs Himself-
“I’m a loser,… I hate me,… I always get the dirty end of the stick.”
We are all unique, all different,… but not THAT different. I have not seen too many Vulcan’s lately so I’m fairly sure of that. If you find yourself falling into self loathing, complaining, whining, bitching or even becoming a conspiracy theorist,.. then it’s time to hold up a mirror and look at the only person who can positively make change that is profound and ongoing. Opportunity and tragedy can be two edges of the same sword. Like a messenger. If we don’t get the message, the sword may get bigger and sharper until we do. When you use the message as a tool of transformation you are much, much further ahead than those who choose to be victims.