Love

Why We Need Love To Resolve Conflicts

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Man and woman smiling after workout together

Love and conflict need each other just as much as we need each other.

Conflicts are everywhere; from those within and between us, to ethical conflicts of interest, and the eternal conflicts of opposing desires, needs, and ways of living life. Indeed, ours is a time of growing conflicts within and amongst ourselves, with other living beings, our planet, its climate, and all of nature.

However, the crisis of our time is not our conflicts but our loss of love and its binding power. With love’s core of commitment and caring gutted from it, the passions underlying our conflicts are intensifying, dividing, and destroying us.

As our conflicts continue to escalate and efforts to resolve them continue to flounder, the stakes have never been higher as the specter of human extinction looms.

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Order and beauty from chaos and conflict

Love is so powerful the ancient Greek philosophers called it the god Eros born from the primordial god Chaos. From Eros other primeval gods were born including “Kosmos”, who made chaos orderly, beautiful (hence the word cosmetics) and pleasing to contemplate.

Today, we too sense the primordial origins of love’s power to combine chaotic passions, within and around us, with its fertile ability to bring forth order and beauty. We are the product of love’s passionate and fertile powers. Embodied within us, these powers are fundamental to learning how to live with one another.

Resolving the conflicts of our time, restoring order and beauty to our lives, and building a future fertile for the growth and well-being of our children and generations to come, demands we find the core strength of nature’s strongest force within us; love.

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The core of love

The one thing we have in common with every other living system; every massless and massive particle and planet; every biological cell, all matter, and all that matters to us, is an innate force to resist being disintegrated. Like all matter, our innate force is a seed of passion, fertile with the potential to conjoin, combine, grow, and live a life that is more than just a struggle to resist disintegration.

Unlocking this potential requires our participation in integrative interactions, which, as we all know, is easier said than done. We are talking about our efforts to integrate with multiple and varied forces that readily lend themselves to conflicts and bear a lethal risk.

Commitment and caring sprout when love exploits the passion seeded within our innate force. Love’s intoxicating power blinds us to the risks of our individual disintegration as we strive to combine forces that are opposing and opposite to one another.

When successful, a stronger resistive force is forged by our mutual commitment to and caring about working together to maintain and enhance our wholeness as a couple, family, community, society, and world of living beings.

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Love and the work of life

Life brings our innate and chaotic forces together but love is the taskmaster commanding us to learn how to work together. Love does not care whether our forces are converse, reverse, inverse, obverse or otherwise oppositional to one another.

Once love’s passion takes hold, its commitment and caring dimensions permeate our incipient or wounded wholeness and the labor of love begins. Be it unity with our body; our partner, family, friends, community, or our Earth, we gladly join in the work of giving back to life all that life has given us.

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Love is not for wimps

Humanity's great accomplishments are love’s success stories. Overwhelming conflicts of the past were no match for the heroic commitment and caring of people working together to overcome them. In these times of personal, social, and ecological conflicts we need strength and courage to not give up on love and surrender to the conflicts threatening to destroy us.

Rightfully, many people are on a quest to find the individual and collective strength and courage that only love can unlock and many are being misled by those seeking to capitalize on the loss of love in times of conflict.

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The failed market of love

Love has become part of “emotional capitalism”: a commodity that has amputated commitment from love while the carrot of caring is dangled before us but always remains out of our grasp. Consequently, caring is no longer about love but about markets like child “care” ($295.9 billion), elderly “care” ($1.23 billion), health “care” ($10+ trillion), and the $450 billion self “care” market.

Despite spending so much on caring, we are not faring well. Since 2014 life expectancy has been declining and though the Covid-19 pandemic has sped up this downward trend, the leading causes of death, lifestyle diseases, opioid overdoses, and suicides, smack with indifference suggesting a market failure on the caring front.

The caring markets have not altered human activity that is accelerating the rates at which other species are being driven into extinction. And caring markets cannot stop the loathing that grows where love has been uprooted and pathological narcissism, the dark side of our innate force, manifests.

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Love and conflict: a necessary unity

Conflicts are rarely resolved by one person with one answer. Resolution to conflicts are mostly a working together thing guided by a collective consciousness founded on mutual commitment to, and caring about the unity of community.

Resolutions wrought from this collective consciousness strengthen our unity with our body, one another, nature, and all of life. Cultivating a collective consciousness of love is an essential prerequisite to confronting the conflicts that will inevitably arise and need healthy resolutions.

Thinking in a brand new way: Thinking about our mutual commitment and caring relationships reinforces our consciousness of love. Start local and look at the synergy of love and life on full display within your body. The timely build-up and break-down of tissues; the rhythmic contraction and relaxation of your heart; the reciprocal exchanges of vital matter between organs; all are the embodiment of conflicts resolved by your bodily caring and commitment to give you life.

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Grow your love: Self-love begins with commitment and caring about the wholeness of you and your body but it does not end there. Love and life demand we recognize our family, friends, community, and ecological networks are as important to our wholeness as is our body. Love and life oblige us to participate in resolving the conflicts of our time; to learn how to work together, reciprocally exchanging the energy, matter, and other resources that have powered life on Earth for the past 4.5 billion years, including the evolution of life’s latest enhancement; you and all of humanity.

Become aware and savor the feeling: With conflicts lurking everywhere, life is indeed a battlefield. Yet, nothing is more vitalizing than lying on the battlefield of life exhausted and successful because we found our strength to stick together, work together, and resolve the conflicts confronting us. Collectively, it makes us stronger because working together brings us closer together in our commitment and caring for one another.

Do not be surprised if you and your partner, family, team, or even your enemy, are giving each other high fives and hugs while exhausted on the battlefield from conquering the conflicts of your life.

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Stephen J Almada, Ed.D. is a health psychologist and author of Exercise, Life, & Love: The Making of a Sedentary Society.

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