How and why you should avoid conflict?

Picture of two men in confrontation.

A motorist starts to back his car into an empty parking space.

Another car comes up from behind and quickly sneaks into the space.

In anger the first motorist goes to the other car to reprimand the driver. 

Suddenly the second driver rips him open with a knife.

In a neighborhood grocery store two men get into a dispute. 

They go out into the street, where one beats the other to death with a baseball bat.

We can read of such incidents nearly every day. 

Many people in these stressful times are very “edgy,” so that a burst of anger or a wrong word can trigger a fight that costs a person his life. 

On a larger scale, riots and revolutions take a heavy toll. 

Life is indeed becoming cheap in the eyes of an increasing number of people.

How do you feel about life? 

Do you value it? 

If so, are there steps that you can take now to protect your life?

Is there anything that will ensure protection, or at least, a greater measure of safety?

Yes, there is. 

But it requires some effort to know what to do, and constant vigilance in doing it. 

Control your temper

Control of your own temper is one of the foremost qualities for which to strive. 

Keeping a calm tongue under aggravating circumstances can save your life and the life of others. 

Self-control can prevent great grief and can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

But the ability to control one’s spirit is not easy to achieve.

How can you develop self-control so that you can maintain calmness under dangerous circumstances?

By practicing control of your speech when with your family, when at work, or when things do not go just as you would like. 

Of course, you cannot entirely avoid getting angry.

However, surely if you value your life, that is a goal worth working for.

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Financial success yes, but at what cost?

A picture about financial success.

Is financial success the only goal in your life?

What are you prepared to do in order to achieve it?

With poverty abounding, many people have pursued financial success to the exclusion of everything else.

How do you compare in this regard?

Do you feel that you must achieve more money than your peers no matter what the cost?

Do you take great pleasure in talking about your wealth?

A TV commercial urges people to “Be successful. Be important” by using a certain brand of toothpaste.

While we all know that toothpaste could hardly hold the key to a person’s becoming important, the advertisers are showing they recognize that people want to be identified with things that carry the tag of “success.”

The desire to succeed and to be recognized by others is a natural one.

Nevertheless, both men and women often place such emphasis on human achievement that they put themselves under pressure to “keep up with the Joneses.” 

Could this be dangerous?

Could it affect you negatively?

Success verse cost

Untamed personal ambition to be rich can exert much pressure.

In some homes the parents may continually strive to improve their earnings in order to boost the family’s social standing.

Children can be pushed toward unreasonably high academic performance at school.

This is particularly a problem in developing nations where many believe that the key to a person’s bettering his lot is higher education.

The community too may exert pressure on a person to aim for higher education, wealth, and positions of prestige and influence.

Success, which is usually measured in terms of money, may lead to prominence, praise, and respect.

No matter how virtuous and impressive one’s qualities are, most people will not respect and recognize him, if he has no money.

What can result?

Such success can bring some enjoyment, but consider the high price it also exacts.

Families may breaking down, largely because of money and what money can buy.

Even the spouses who still manage to hold together hardly talk in terms of their parental obligations.

They are all too busy in the pursuit of the wealth to notice the emotional well-being of their children

This neglected children then turn to drugs and crime or running away from home, and the price becomes very high.

For some pressure to succeed has pushed some ambitious people into dishonesty and immorality.

Young women have even traded sexual favors for good exam results and employment.

Is this really success?

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Causes of war that make it hard to end wars

A picture of a soldier at war.

War is a depressing feature of the news.

Those bulletins of brutality doubtless sicken you. 

But perhaps they also make you wonder why weapons must be the arbiters of so many disputes. 

Will men never learn to live in peace?

A remedy for the plague of war seems more elusive than a cure for AIDS. 

During the 20th century, entire nations have been mobilized for war, millions of men have been thrown into battle, and hundreds of cities have been reduced to rubble. 

No end to the carnage seems to be in sight. 

A lucrative arms trade ensures that the world’s armies—and guerrillas—will continue to be grimly effective.

As weapons of war became more deadly, casualty figures skyrocketed.

More than half of the 65 million soldiers who fought in World War I were killed or wounded.

Some 30 years later, just two atom bombs snuffed out the lives of more than 150,000 Japanese civilians. 

Since World War II, conflicts have been more localized. 

Nevertheless, they are lethal, especially for civilians, who now account for 80 percent of the casualties.

Ironically, this wholesale butchery has occurred during an age that has seen unparalleled efforts to outlaw war as a way of resolving disputes between nations. 

With the end of the Cold War, hopes were high that a new, peaceful world order would emerge. 

However, global peace remains as illusory as ever. Why?

A Biological Necessity?

Some historians and anthropologists claim that wars are inevitable—even necessary—simply because they are part of an evolutionary struggle for survival. 

Influenced by such thinking, military analyst Friedrich von Bernhardi argued in 1914 that war is fought “in the interest of biological, social and moral progress.” 

The theory was that war is a way of weeding out weak individuals or nations, while leaving the fittest.

Such an argument would hardly console the millions of war widows and orphans. 

Apart from being morally repugnant, this thinking ignores the harsh realities of modern warfare. 

The machine gun is no respecter of the fittest, and the bomb annihilates the strong along with the weak.

Disregarding the sobering lessons of the first world war, Adolf Hitler dreamed of forging a master race through military conquest. 

Rather than uplift mankind, though, Hitler sacrificed millions of lives and devastated a whole continent.

Yet, if war is not a biological necessity, what drives mankind toward self-destruction? 

It was Napoléon who described war as a “business of barbarians.” 

Having spent most of his adult life in the military and nearly 20 years as supreme army commander, he experienced firsthand the barbarities of battle.

What forces bulldoze nations into this “business of barbarians”

Following is a list of some underlying factors that stymie the best efforts of peacemakers.

Causes of War

Nationalism: Often invoked by politicians and generals, nationalism is one of the most powerful forces in promoting warfare. 

Many wars have been launched to protect “national interests” or defend “national honor.” 

When the mentality of my country right or wrong prevails, even naked aggression can be explained as a preemptive strike.

Ethnic animosity: Many regional wars are sparked and then fueled by long-standing hatred between races, tribes, and ethnic groups. 

The tragic wars in the former Yugoslavia, in Liberia, and in Somalia are recent examples.

Economic and military rivalry: In the outwardly peaceful days before World War I, European powers actually built up huge armies.

Germany and Great Britain were locked in a battleship-building competition. 

Since each major nation that ultimately became involved in the carnage believed that a war would increase its power and bring a windfall of economic benefits, conditions were ripe for conflict.

Religious feuds: Especially when reinforced by racial divisions, religious differences can produce an explosive mixture. 

Conflicts in Lebanon and Northern Ireland, as well as the wars between India and Pakistan, have been rooted in religious animosity.

These underlying causes of war are not easy to eradicate. 

Over 2,000 years ago, Plato said that “only the dead have seen the end of war.” 

Is his bleak assessment a bitter truth we must learn to accept? 

Or do we have reason to hope that one day there will be a world without war?

Only time will tell.

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How being a private person can develop your thinking abilities?

A woman thinking near a seashore.

Do you appreciate having some time to yourself?  

Do you benefit from reflecting on new things learned? 

Are you absorbed in efforts to broaden your understanding of matters?

 Do you like to ponder over constructive questions and problems?

Or, are you more like those persons who seem to lack the ability to think, or even feel, for themselves? 

Such persons would not, perhaps could not, enjoy their own private company. 

They seem impelled to be around others as much as possible.

It would appear that if they cannot talk to someone they cannot think for themselves. 

What would happen to such a person if confined to solitary imprisonment? 

What would happen to you?

Many persons feel that if they search long and deep within themselves, they will eventually uncover some depository of profound truth and meaning. 

It might be true that deep and persistent “soul-searching” will help us better to understand our views, tendencies, attitudes, feelings, ambitions, longings and the like.

Developing thinking abilities

Personal privacy can be a time to think, to study, to meditate, to develop thinking abilities. 

Yes, we may be born with the ability to play music or excel in athletics. 

Yet, what if we never trained such abilities? We might as well never have had them. 

The same is true with thinking abilities. 

The ability to think develops only to the extent that we feed upon information, experience and training.

Developing ability to think is not easy. 

It is real mental work. 

Let us say that we wish to develop some special thinking ability, for example, the ability to judge types of persons to a reliable degree. 

First, we think of a person, someone we know. 

That person can be seen, heard, touched and discerned with the physical senses. But does such discernment involve thinking? No.

Furthermore, as we begin to think about the person, do not our emotional reactions toward that person start interfering? 

Before we are really thinking, have we not started feeling about the person—registering likes, dislikes, respect, disrespect, trust, distrust—reacting emotionally before beginning an intellectual appraisal?

But let us say that we force ourselves simply to THINK of the person. Think of the person’s views, attitudes, behavior, abilities, accomplishments and the like. 

How well do we understand such qualities in anyone? 

Could we make logical predictions as to how the person might react under given circumstances? 

Appraising mental and emotional qualities in a person requires the ability to think. 

We find ourselves involved with intangibles beyond discernment with mere physical senses such as sight, sound and touch. 

At the same time we have to make sure that feelings have not slipped in under the guise of thoughts to throw our mental processes off track.

In order to do these necessary things we will benefit by making room in our lives for a reasonable degree of personal privacy; privacy for thinking and study and meditation.

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