Like many, conflict is not my comfort zone. In fact, I sometimes feel that getting a tooth pulled without anesthesia is preferable to wading into a conflict zone.
The challenge is, when I avoid conflict, I create discord within myself and the world around me.
Like a sickly sweet cotton candy ball, conflict cloys and clings, wrapping everything it comes in contact with in almost invisible threads of sticky nothingness that is bad for your health and everything it touches.
Which is why, to find resolution, we must choose to wade through the murky waters of conflict to swim in the waters of harmony on the other side.
Ask my beloved. I might not like conflict but I dislike enduring inappropriate behaviour, injustice, and inequity even more.
It’s a simple equation in my mind. I can choose to carry the discomfort of what someone else has done and let it fester inside while also polluting the waters between us, or I can choose to be accountable for my part of the equation.
For me, that choice isn’t always easy, but it is important. So, even when I’m feeling uncomfortable, intimidated, or like I’d rather just stay silent and pretend like it’s okay, even when it’s not, I must choose to do the right thing to create better.
And staying silent, standing stuck in confusion and fear, does not create better. For anyone.
For me, movements like #MeToo have highlighted the need and imperative for women, and allies, to speak our truth in the face of racism, discrimination, injustice, and all forms of harassment, bullying, gender inequity and patriarchial concepts designed to keep us feeling less than, in our place and silent.
It’s about turning up, paying attention, speaking our truth, and staying unattached to the outcome.
It’s about drawing a line and saying, it is not okay for me that you have chosen to cross that line.
It is not okay for anyone that this behaviour continue, unchallenged.
When we know better, we do better.
And because some people, some men, in particular, have not yet learned it is not okay to charge a conversation with uninvited sexual innuendo or make unsolicited advances, ignoring a woman’s right to choice, or a host of other advances that impair a woman’s ability to work, play and be safe in this world, we must draw hard lines where no man dare to cross. We must stake out boundaries and push back against advances that would pull us back into times past when women’s rights meant having the choice between moving to the parlour or the sunroom after dinner, to do needlepoint and chat of babies and the latest fashions while the menfolk sat around the table drinking port and smoking cigars as they discussed the heady matters of which the womenfolk had no ken.
And yes, I know there are men out there who stand with women and minorities in wanting to change the status quo, who want our world to become a more parity-based reflection of the make-up of our society where women represent 49.6% of the world’s population. (In Canada, women are 50.37% of the total population. In the US, 51.1%.)
And yes, I know change takes time and behavioural change is daunting but what is even more daunting are the challenges women continue to face in 2021 to gain equal pay for equal work. To eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace and a host of other malpractices that limit women’s advancement in their careers and their safety at home, on the streets and where ever they go.
So, while conflict is not my comfort zone, I will not back down. I will challenge injustice. I will confront discrimination, harassment, and bullying and I will not be silent.
It is my choice.