You must be right that conflict is situation normal. Yet, at the same time, most of us don’t live our live our lives gripped in the urgency of conflict. We know times of peace, shared interest, cooperation. Those times may be brief moments or more extended but they will be part of the rhythms of our seasons here on earth. Unending conflict would only lead to madness or death. Conflict adds spice but I don’t believe there are many of us who would like to live entirely on a diet of chilli peppers. We have to be able to sleep at night.
The unsuspecting world that I referred to needs to be understood as part of a pattern of voluntary and involuntary unconsciousness, unknowingness. After all, how much consciousness can any of us bear? A small personal example from this last week may illustrate something of this:
My post-university daughter has been to and fro these last weeks as she decides where to live and how to live. On Wednesday evening we went to see the latest offering from Lars Von Trier – Melancholia. I found it, quite literally, a powerfully affecting movie in that about two thirds of the way through I had to leave the auditorium to be sick in the toilets! Von Trier works close to the edge and the movie held me close to the edge not only of the end of the world but to the emotional/psychological frailty of one of the two sisters who are at the core of the film. Despite the cathartic purging I came away from the film wanting to see it again and thinking of it as brilliant. In the cold evening we cycled back home through the dark following the little pool of light provided by my bicycle lamp down the mostly dark lane.
But the point I want to make is that Von Trier has the ability to hold us in an uncomfortable place that we might not want to know about and after all we each have the task of doing what we can to run our own little individual life and perhaps are able to include a family and beyond that have some mind to our community – a community that can include the whole globe – 'us lot' again – just coming up to 7 billion apparently. And as part of that many of us have little idea of idea-tsunamis that are swelling and building somewhere in the ocean of the collective mind. A good example may be the collapse of the communist states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and another might be the stunning success of unfettered markets and the consumerist and technological revolutions of our very recent history.
Unknowingness, a sort of naivety, is also situation normal. My sense of myself is not that I’m no longer naïve, only that I’m differently naïve . . . and actually I have an immediate image of my grown up children streaking ahead, leaving me somewhat bemused and bobbing in their slipstream.