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Is Conflict Necessary for Inner Growth?

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By contributing writer Khalid Husain, originally published in KidSpirit's Conflict and Peacemakers issue.

In this article, "peace among ourselves" refers to diplomatic peace between nations and ultimately humans coming together as one with no hardships that stem from their disagreements. In addition, "world peace" refers to peace and harmony between ourselves as well as the world -- including nature and other external events that we have no control over.

Peace among ourselves and the people around us is very important, and many world leaders and countries strive toward it all the time. If no one were working toward peace, we would be at a war on many fronts, internally and externally, constantly. Peace is important simply because lack of peace -- conflict -- can lead to violence and ultimately, joylessness and grief in our lives.

World peace with everything and everyone around us is as important if not more important than peace among ourselves. However, I think that world peace is a lofty goal to strive for, since not everything we want to be at peace with is under our control. Ultimately, since we cannot bend everything to our will, aspects of life, including death, are inevitable. As Murphy's Law states, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

For argument's sake, let's say that we achieve "world peace." Even when we achieve it, it will be temporary at best -- aspects of nature and life that we can't control will still eventually come into play. Worse, the longer we manage to stave off the problems we can't fully control, the more dulled our problem-solving skills will be. I say this because conflict is necessary for our development; when handled with an open mind, it constantly adds to our metaphorical bag of answers and gives us experience so that we can handle a difficult task when the time comes.

The fact of the matter is that we cannot live productively with only one of these aspects, peace or conflict, in our daily lives. While conflict can lead to misery, world peace isn't the solution because conflict invariably arises. Keeping this in mind, total lack of conflict, even among ourselves, could dull our problem-solving skills and keep future generations from developing these essential skills. We have to work on each problem with an open mind and extract as much information as we can from it, so that we are best equipped to deal with future conflicts.

While we may have peace among ourselves successfully, we do not have control over everything, and therefore, something bad will eventually happen. We must handle conflicts carefully and properly, but not be so immersed in the thought of total world peace, that we set our goals too high. Diplomatic peace is a reasonable goal to strive for, and can be achieved without dampening our conflict-solving skills in the long run. However, striving in itself is useful, even if it is toward an impossible goal. All in all, moderation is the best way to deal with conflict and peace, as well as anything else in life.

When Khalid wrote this he was a 13-year-old freshman at Stuyvesant High School.