Conflict of the Soul

By Solomon Abugri. Solomon is university student living in Winneba, Ghana. Please read his article and leave thoughts and comments below.

Conflict is mankind’s longest companion, although conflict has always been despised and branded mankind’s worst enemy. Yet throughout history, from creation to the medieval ages and to this present age, conflict has written and re-written countless stories of humankind.

Conflict in our world can be likened to a disease, the diagnosis and treatment of which are known, but neither the physician nor the patient want it cured. The physician fears that once it is cured, his art of medicine will be of no use; the patient on the other hands does not want his sickness treated because he needs something to worry about in order to keep away his boredom. Mankind is both the physician and the patient. There is fear that if there is no conflict, mankind’s flawed nature, which desires power, to conquer or be conquered and to dominate others will be invalid, butconflict is not done away with because it is necessary to have something to always worry and talk about in order to find excitement in his mysterious life. Unfortunately, this disease is a swift killer that a simple difference in opinion can turn into bloodsheds, and discrimination and abuse can turn into retaliations.

From what has been said above, conflict can be deduced to be our enemy, indeed causing loss of lives, property and sometimes one’s identity. But I do not think that is what Veronica Roth thought of when she said ”If there’s no conflict, there are no stories worth telling -or reading”, although I do not think she was oblivious to the devastating consequences of conflicts when she said that. And yes, perhaps she thought of the consequences of conflicts and said so. The fact is that conflict is an undeniable part of human life. To have no conflicts means to have no testimonies, no victories to celebrate, no lessons to learn and no stories to tell and, for that matter, no stories to read. I believe the purpose of every one on earth is to learn and grow through learning, to become useful persons in society. Conflict, which is strife itself, is the only means one can learn and grow. It is rather unfortunate that most of the time we do not learn and keep re-writing the same mistakes; the same dark stories that have caused so much damage to humanity. A good reason why stories are written is for readers to read and learn from the failures and triumph of the characters – be it true or fictitious. The dark pages of our history, filled with bloodsheds, hatred, discrimination, abuses and intolerance are stories kept for us to read and learn and not to repeat the same mistakes of the past. But are we learning?

There is this kind of conflict that we do not acknowledge as much as we do with the violent conflicts. Just like the violent ones, this conflict can cause death too. ‘’Conflict of the soul’’, I will call it. There is this popular story of a Cherokee elder who was teaching his young grandson about life. He said to the boy ‘’a fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This fight is going on inside you and inside every other person, too’’. The boy thought about what his grandfather had said for a moment and then asked ‘’which wolf will win?’’ and the elder replied ‘’the one you feed’’. Man’s longest conflict is with himself, and it takes place inside all of us every possible moment. This conflict though does not shed blood for us to see, it corrupts and slowly kills the soul and is responsible for any other conflict of both violent and non-violent nature. The strife within the soul between good and evil is what brings forth stories which signifies testimonies, victories, failures, lessons and give hope to readers of these stories.

“Conflict of the soul’’ is mankind’s longest conflict and has given rise to many great men and women, and many great stories worth telling and reading. Conflict of the soul is a strife within oneself, a battle of oneself against pain and suffering, sickness, evil and failure and can cause long-term consequences such as depression, anxiety, despair and sometimes death. Conflict of the soul is sometimes regarded as a disease of the mind or “mental health disorder”, because its battlefield is the mind and the mind is the worst place to face one’s enemy especially when the enemy is one’s self. Poets, novelists, playwrights and screenplay writers are some the greatest creation from conflict of the soul. A few examples are; Sylvia Plath, the American author known for her novel ‘’Bell Jar’’ and her poetry collections ‘’The colossus and Ariel’’. She suffered from depression while in college and was hospitalized. She made many suicide attempts and eventually succeeded. She described her hospitalization as a time of darkness, despair, and disillusion – so black as only the inferno of the human mind can be. Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer, is another example. His works include War and Peace and Anna Karenina. At one point, he considered himself a moral failure because he could not commit suicide. In dealing with his distress and depression, which he suffered when middleaged, accounted for his philosophic and artistic ideas. J.K. Rowling, one of the world’s most famous contemporary writers and creator of the ‘’Harry Potter’’ series.  She was a single mother, broke and suffering from depression before she wrote her famous work, the Harry Potter series. Being plagued by rejection and poverty, she used her pain and sadness to create a masterpiece. These and many other world famous writers have suffered this inner conflict and their stories drawn out of their pain, sadness and despair, have given the world its beautiful stories of testimonies and inspiration.

There are many other great men and women who have fought these great battles and won in their own small ways within themselves, and are now sharing their stories with others. There are many others too who have fought and lost this inner conflict. Most of them are not famous or have no written works, but whenever they share their stories with those they meet and give encouragement to whomever needs it, it brings great fulfilment and peace as they continue to learn and grow. Considering this, indeed if there is no conflict, there are no stories worth telling or stories worth reading, because the element of conflict itself is what really makes a story worth telling and worth reading.

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