The Origins of Deep Conflict


As I prepare to become a conflict specialist,  I will be charged with the task of listening ... really, deeply listening. Conflict specialists in any discipline are not to guess of the content of someone’s conflict. We are to understand and to do that we need to listen and then ask the right questions so we can more fully understand.


I have been observing the sound bites, blogs, posts, news stories, conversations, and bewilderment of all, about why Adam Lanza shot 28 people dead. What could be so devastatingly wrong that he needed to “go down in a blaze of glory?” Of course you have your NRA haters, and your mental illness advocates, and your better school security endorsers ... (and just for the record, I would hate to think what school would be like if people had to pass a back ground check just to visit. That would be horrible!) However, listen up people. Yeah, listen. Could it really be as simple as listening?


How would I know what it feels like to experience the rejection of not being heard? Oh believe me, I do. Through life circumstances, multiple events where I trusted someone and they usurped my identity and my power from me and then hung me out to dry.... and just my introverted, quirky personality causes me to often times feel like a ghost in this world (and in this nation of “group thinkers”.) But I have relatively few mental health problems. (Some would argue with me!) Although I feel very isolated at times, I had a good upbringing, resources, and love.


What if I hadn’t? What if I had but untreated mental illness caused my brain to twist it all out of sorts? ... (and it does sometimes, briefly). What if I hadn’t been a teen-ager in a more innocent time, in a more protective environment? What if I didn’t have the constitution to reach out? Or, worse yet, what if I did, but no one really listened? Anybody who has felt this knows ... we could have been that kid (or adult) under different circumstances.


To feel like a ghost in this world, to feel isolation, rejection, or to feel like the world’s biggest oddball, especially when you know there is something beautiful to share inside you ... well, it is a spirit killer to say the least. When all the worst factors get aligned, and no one is really listening, something snaps. A decision gets made to go down a path that will have people listening, loud and clear. Sometimes, it’s just a suicide attempt, or radical behavior. In the worst cases, it’s Columbine, or Aurora, or Omaha, or Sandy Hook.


Here is my final thought. Take a minute. Check in with your self, your family, your co-workers, your kids, your viewpoint. Don’t judge, don’t try and fix, don’t rush, and for God’s sake, don’t dismiss. Just listen carefully. The message of desperation and isolation could be clearer than you think.... but you have to stop and lean down and get quiet before you can hear it. And then you must act with love!

Jillian Post, soon to be Werner grad., Creighton University, Omaha NE

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