The Elements that Make a Conflict Positive: Humor, Choices, and Faith When surrounded by so much anguish and despair, it takes a lot for a person to be optimistic and to do something about it. Gregory Boyle, a pastor working in Los Angles, which happens to be gang central, decides to turn an awful predicament into something that will help his community grow. Guy Burgess from Beyond Intractability says, “Conflict is the engine of social learning.” Father Boyle created something great: Homeboy Industries. Homeboy Industries is an organization to provide counseling, job training, job placements, tattoo removal, and love to the young adults that are affected by gangs and all that it comes with on the daily. In Tattoos on the Heart Father Boyle is faced with many conflicts that end up being positive. Humor, choices, and faith are elements that if present in a conflict can allow some one to grow from it.
Humor is an essential element to make a conflict more positive. Not only does it lighten up the mood, but it can also help you articulate something that might otherwise insult someone. Scrappy is a young adult that is a drug dealer and into gangbanging. Scrappy and Father Boyle do not get along for many years. Scrappy is finally ready to put his past behind and to further better himself and Father Boyle is ready to help him. When Scrappy went into his office for help they had a conversation about the times Scrappy disrespected him. Scrappy denies that he ever disrespected him, and Father Boyle tells him about the time he mad dogged him in front over everyone while he was giving a eulogy at his friend’s funeral and another time when Father Boyle was trying to break up a fight and Scrappy pulled out a gun on him. Father Boyle writes that scrappy says, “’Yeah, well… besides that,” [Scrappy] says. Then we do something we never have in our two decades of knowing each other. We laugh” (34). This shows that one can turn a negative conflict into something humorous and positive. When the use of humor comes into play, the conflict can become an opportunity for growth and correlation.
Another element that is on the positive side is choices. Without choices that person won’t be able to grow because they feel like they are stuck living a certain way. Father Boyle makes sure not to pressure the young boys and girls that would come to him for help into doing something that they don’t want to do or aren’t ready to do on their own. Speedy another young boy just seventeen years old, he grew up in the projects and hailed from a broken family. Father Boyle says, “He was a thrill seeker in the world of project gangbanging” (55). He would walk in enemies’ turf and wouldn’t care about the danger he was in. He didn’t care if he lived or died. Father Boyle writes, “Not long after this, things started to change for Speedy—largely because he wanted them to” (58). Father Boyle made sure not to force anyone to do anything unless it was his or her decision. He knew it could potentially back fire and just make things worse. Speedy ended up moving out of the projects, marrying his teenage sweetheart Claudia and they had three kids together. He overcame those obstacles on his own to time to better his life.
Faith plays a big role in conflict. Without faith one might not trust in what he or she is doing and just give up on themselves. The television news program 60 Minutes went to Dolores Mission Church to do an interview on Homeboy Industries. Mike Wallace showed up wearing a flak jacket and was a bit skeptical about the whole thing. Father Boyle writes that Wallace says, “’I came here expecting monsters. But that’s not what I found’” (21). He knew most of the gang member that he encountered that day has done something illegal in his or her lifetime. He was quite surprised that Father Boyle hasn’t turned anyone into the police, but in return Father Boyle was more surprised that he would have such a thought. Wallace asks a homie, “’Why is that? Why do you think he won’t turn you over to the police?’ The kids just stares at Mike Wallace, shrugs, nonplussed, and says, ‘God… I guess.’”(21). Many of the homeboys and homegirls have faith in god and in themselves and that’s what brings them to Father Boyle to better their lives and to change it from the direction that its going. Having just a little faith can make a big difference in one’s life.
When presented with a conflict it takes a lot for a person to learn from one’s mistake and to grow as an individual. One must have faith, humor, and choices. Not all conflicts are negative and in fact a lot of conflicts can
turn into life lessons. They way we see conflict can change our perception on a lot of things. For example, when we are in a situation where things can get escalated if we just take a deep breath and realize that maybe this person is just having a bad day and doesn’t normally act this way then we took the mature route and instead of getting in a fight with this person we found a mature solution. Remember why you were in the situation and try not to make that mistake. That’s how one can learn from a mistake and turn a conflict into a positive life lesson.