I couldn’t help but stare at the scars on both sides of my uncle’s cheek. They were from bullets wounds he sustained as a Biafran soldier at the battle field of the Nigerian-Biafran War (Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970). He caressed the wounds while he narrated the story of the greatest conflict that shook Nigeria and almost saw to her end. I saw his eyes glint with a sad pride.
On the 4th of July every year, America celebrates her Independence from the monarch of Britain in commemoration of the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783); America’s bloodiest war.
No one talks about South Africa without recalling the 1960 Sharpeville massacre. The greatest apartheid massacre in South Africa.
Every country has a story of great conflict, turmoil and struggle. A story that reflects her strength and survival.
It may seem bizarre to debunk the idea of a utopian society but in my defense, it should be noted that a ‘perfect society’ is based on individual perception. A criminal may view it as a society free from backlash and reprehension against crimes or trials at the court.
A teenager may see a ‘perfect society’ as one in which there are no parents around to monitor activities and there is freedom to go wild…
But in the presence of conflict, all individual worlds are brought into a clashing commotion in a bid to attain a humane moral stance.
However, it seems that we have a stereotypical and restricted conception of the term ‘conflict’.
Conflict is not limited to fights and clashes of interests between me, friends and foes alike, or between societies. Conflict does not necessarily involve wars and weapons, deaths and blood baths or a struggle for possession.
Conflicts sometimes occur within each and everyone of us as individuals. It could be an internal struggle and search for self-salvation and divination. It could be a fight to make decisions and take a moral stand, to discover who we are, our strength and weaknesses.
In the heat of this, we sometimes lose our mental sanity and scar our souls. We burn ourselves on a pyre made from the instability and desire to self-exonerate so that we may rise up from our ashes like the phoenix.
Without conflict within ourselves, we may never discover our potentials, and soar high like the eagles. We may never be a tale of inspiration. For what good is a tale of a cycle of complete perfection with no adventure?
Don’t tell me a story of how Mary had a perfect life and got everything she wanted, or how she had the perfect grades and lived in a society where she had candies everyday of her life but never got a toothache. I beg not to be bored to death by such horrendous tale of utopia.
Tell me of how she wasn’t much of a bright student, never really had a comfortable life or lived in a slum where they eat you for jokes. Tell me how she was determined to survive, tell me about her courage and strength and how she gloriously rose to the top – that’s what makes her a beautiful and interesting soul.
It would therefore, be convenient to say that, “If there is no conflict, there are no stories worth telling – or reading”.
Without sorrow, joy would be devalued; without conflict, peace would be underrated. No struggle, no survival; no war, no victory. Conflict leaves beautiful memorial scars: scars that tell stories of glorious survival, victory and strength. Without these, a story would lose its essential value – ‘to convey a message and captivate a soul’. It would be a cycle of unappreciated events.