|What follows are a set of alternative definitions of conflict drawn from Ken Cloke's experience over several years in mediating a wide variety of disputes:
1.) Conflict represents a lack of awareness of the immanence of death or sudden catastrophe.
2.) Conflict arises wherever there is a failure of collaboration or community.
3.) Conflict reflects an ignorance of our essential inter-connectedness, of the beauty of the human spirit.
4.) Conflict is a lack of acceptance of ourselves that we have projected onto others, a way of blaming someone else for what we perceive as failures in our own lives, of diverting attention from our mistakes.
5.) Conflict represents a boundary violation, a failure to value or recognize our own integrity, and therefore the personal space of others.
6.) Conflict reflects a need to support or maintain a false image of who we are.
7.) Conflict is a way of obtaining the acknowledgement, sympathy or support we need by casting ourselves as the victim of some evil doer.
8.) Conflict is a lack of skill or experience at being able to handle a particular kind of behavior.
9.) Conflict is the continued pursuit of our own false expectations, the desire to hold on to our unrealistic fantasies.
10.) Conflict is a lack of appreciation of subtlety in what someone else is saying .
11.) Conflict is a result of what is not communicated, of secrets, confusion and cover-up.
What is common to each of these definitions is that our conflicts begin and end with us, and with the systems that we inhabit. They have little or nothing to do with the people we are fighting with. Each opens a window of awareness and offers us a unique and powerful opportunity for personal or organizational transformation that depends on our openness and capacity for listening to voices not our own.