Conflict is a word I have always cringed at. It’s something I’ve always thought I hated. Best avoided in every shape or form. This year, I think I really may have learned something.

Conflict is an opportunity.

It’s an opportunity to be honest with yourself and with others. It’s an opportunity for others to be honest with themselves and with you. It’s an opportunity for awareness and it’s an opportunity for real, true deep-rooted resolution.

Now isn’t that something worth stepping up and being a little uncomfortable for? Isn’t resolution something worth re-examining your motives for, worth putting yourself in another’s place for? I think so.

Only, the problem is, conflict, often especially in small town New Zealand, isn’t really conflict – it’s fear. And unfortunately, the fearful’s greatest fear is admitting they are afraid. They’re afraid they’re not intelligent enough, afraid everybody else is better than them, that their family doesn’t really love them, afraid of ending up old and alone, afraid of change, afraid of trying, afraid of diversity, afraid of looking foolish, afraid of the unknown – basically – afraid of life.

What I’d like to ask is: surely isn’t the most frightening thing of all, to be on the brink of death looking back on your life and to realize every decision you ever made, every excuse you made, every opportunity you turned away from, was because of fear? Fear won. You lost.

And to my mind the absolute most petrifying possibility is that there are people out there who will never, ever realize this.


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About duendest (Tina Cartwright)

Tina Cartwright grew up on the East Coast in the South of New Zealand. She lives and works in Melbourne. Her children’s picture book, Kiwi and Scorpion, was published with Penguin NZ in 2008. She edited and translated Taking Latin America Home – a self-published anthology influenced by Latin America which raised funds for the Sweet Water Fund in Nicaragua.

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