Throughout history, conflict has been an prevelent force for human beings, shaping our lives and interactions with one another. Conflict is ultimately the greatest paradox because when we react to conflict, it can often reflect the worst of our nature. A clashing of ideas has been important throughout history, as it tests the complexity of the human condition, exposing flaws, similarities and ideologies within our personalities, consequently, giving society a chance to strengthen and grow. Human beings are fearful of what is foreign or unknown to them either to the eye or within the mind.
When humans are wedded to notions of difference and locked in their own sense of righteousness and notions of cultural superioty, a collision of ideas can highlight the ignorance within our natures and actions. Moreover, when we encounter conflict, our sense of greed and need for control of others is often illustrated in our actions. Though conflict highlights the worst elements of human nature, the manner in which society has encountered conflict throughout history has also highlighted our capacity to perform acts of valiance. In times of injustice, people become willing to stand up for what they believe in despite the social norms or consequences they face they selflessly recognize the rights of human beings and pursue justice.
When people are faced with beliefs or concepts different to own, our response can often be to feel fear. This fear tests our ability to form appropriate judgments and causes us to respond irrationally in times of conflict, based on our need to feel secure. Similarly, such reactions to fear are often derived from a sense of ignorance, which stems from a notion of wanting to be secure, highlighting the cyclical nature of conflicts where the roots of conflict more often than not, contain the seeds of another.This trait can be seen in Graham Greene’s ‘The Quiet American’ through the character of Pyle who’s fear of Communism spreading across Vietnam and Indochina, causes him to become an instrument in the establishment of a “Third Force” in Vietnam. “he was armored by his good intentions and his ignorance”.
When Pyle enters Vietnam he is ignorant of the Vietnamese culture and ideals and is fixated on the creation of a democratic system of government within Vietnam. Despite Pyle’s exposure to the suffering of the Vietnamese people in Phat Diem and the child soldiers in the watch tower, his view is unwavering as he chooses to ignore the impact of the war on innocent civilians, ironically stating ‘you have to fight for liberty’. It is this detachment from the Vietnamese people coupled with his immense fear of the spread of communism, that enables Pyle to become involved in the detonation of bombs in the Place Garnier, where he justifies the deaths of the innocent children and women, as being part ‘of the cause for democracy.’ Such a staunch and steadfast view Pyle exhibits causes him to sacrifice the lives of others in the name of upholding ‘democracy’, causing him to be incapable of embracing difference and highlighting how his fear and ignorance can lead to death and destruction.
Our actions during times of conflict are often based on our sense of greed and lust for power, which consequently, can overpower our ethics and morals. We will stop at nothing to keep our power, often saying one thing but doing another in order to maintain our position, privilege and power. Contrastingly some individuals having the selfish desire to aquire more than they need. This can be seen in Australian history with the relationship between the federal government and the “pronounced and aggravated views” of indigenous Australians and their actions within a “western society”. On the 21st of June 2007, John Howard announced for an intervention to take place after allegations of child abuse in remote aboriginal communities. Using vulnerable children as an excuse, the federal government suspended the operation of the Racial Discrimination Act, suspended Aboriginal Land rights and through the use of the Australian Army seized control of Aboriginal Land in the Northern Territory.
The process in which these Aboriginal men were dehumanised by the Federal government helped the way in which the government could qualify their actions. With the use of racist propaganda land was overtaken by the Australian government and they assumed power in order to presumably obtain precious minerals. Through the use of the Australian army intervening in these Aboriginal communities the public were brought to believe that the “Third Force” were advocating “responsibilities of the west” bringing peace and justice to these remote areas . However it can be assumed the federal government’s intentions was to gain from this conflict with no aim in restoring settlement in these areas.
This is evident by the fact there hasn’t been any sort of follow up or inquest and it has not been proven. Indeed, the fact that there hasn’t been any follow up is part of the inherent ugliness of the way the Australian government is willing to take from a disadvantaged race. This highlights how individuals or groups in society can respond to conflict in a controlling manner reflecting on the individual as being greedy or being one who exploits others.
In times of injustice, there are often those who are able to transgress from the norm and, in challenging times, go to extraordinary lengths to pursue justice. These unique human beings are willing to challenge the status quo and their actions are a reflection of the best characteristics of humanity, evoking change within society. This can been seen during the Vietnam War, American troops were given orders to eradicate all civilians from the village of My Lai. The American soldiers were taught that Vietnamese were not human, they were seen as “the other”. It was presumed that any dead Vietnamese were Viet Cong. With this mentality American soldiers not only destroyed the innocent men, women, and children of Vietnam, but were witnessed to have “also raped, tortured, and pillaged for fun.” as “legality was not essential in a country at war.”
However through these unbelieavlble acts which were against the means of humanity, there was one who stood up and intervened. Officer Hugh Thompson landed his helicopter in the line of fire between fleeing Vietnamese civilians and pursuing American ground troops to prevent murder of innocent “human beings not just grey drained cadavers.” Essentially, he becomes a fourth force but rather than being driven by false and racist ideology, he is simply doing what’s right. Through bravery and internal courage, Officer Hugh Thompson coaxed the Vietnamese civilians out of hiding bunkers and houses to enable their evacuation. Hugh Thompson’s act of heroism is one example of the way individuals go above the expectations of humanity in order to protect those of innocence.
Ultimately, conflict exposes the human experience as a complex and prevelent force in our world, often highlighting a clash between our ideologies and our actions. It is clear that descions made in a moment of crisis can explicity define who an individual is. Now more than ever with the heated dispute around the world it is important that we understand as Jesse Jackson once said ” its time for us to turn to each other, not on each other” highlighting how we must as global citizens stay true to ourselves and our interactions with one another in times on conflict.
Form- In this essay, i have chosen to write an expository piece of writing, as i feel it is the best format for me to share my information and point of view.
L- It utilises formal language in order to better express the information in this essay.
A-The intended audience is those who are interested in ways which conflict is caused and how individual expression can cause conflict.
P The purpose is to discuss the relationship between individual expression and conflict being caused. In my essay i discuss examples of both what has happened in the past and what is happening in the present day. Focusing on reasons why individuals have the desire to express individual beliefs, using examples from the conflict in Quiet American, Utopia and My Lai
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