The Good Side of Conflicts

By Alexia Joyce De Leon. Alexia, 25, is a social worker at a drug treatment and rehabilitation center. She lives in Balanga City, Philippines. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

I live in a country where engaging in conflicts is somehow counterculture. In fact, in our culture, there is discomfort to being in a situation where you would have to frankly tell someone about something hurtful or embarrassing.

We, Filipinos, use euphemism or artistic ways to state an unpleasant truth as pleasantly as possible. Some make use of “go-between” or a middle person when we have not gathered enough guts to directly tell a person about our concerns.

I grew up with this kind of rationale, that I should utter positive words and compliments all the time to help maintain good interpersonal relationships and to demonstrate respect to other people.

Growing up, I was the pampered and naïve kid raised in a very conservative family. I adhered to a defined box of norms, be it written or not, and it felt sinful to deviate from it or to explore the world outside that box. I never complained about it though because I got used to it anyway.

I used to believe that’s how things should be, but when I left my province in 2010 to study in our country’s premiere university, things were totally different.

The day I witnessed my fellow student and professor arguing about a certain social issue is still very vivid in my memory. I asked myself, “Why would our teacher allow his students to disrespect him?” I was even surprised when my professor approached the student after the class and he sounded so proud of how she argued with him.

It remained to be a question until the day another professor introduced me to Paulo Freire’s book: The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It sounded so scholarly that it earned my undivided attention. The book boldly debunks the kind of education system that we currently have. It challenges the one-way transfer of knowledge from the educator to the learner because of the risks of cultivating oppressive practices. It promotes the teachers and students as equal and significant contributors to the learning process, hence conflicts are necessary.

After that class, I started to see conflicts from a new lens and understood its other benefits. Arguments in our classes are not acts of discourtesy or disrespect. Those contrasts of ideas and exchange of thoughts are vital to stimulate critical thinking and to acquire learning.

I was wondering why I had lived believing that conflicts are absolutely unhealthy. Why did I feel obliged to conform to norms and agree with other people just to avoid the tension? I tried to search for the right answer and came up with a theory. Perhaps, the conformist in me comes from the prevailing colonial mentality in our society, that feeling of inferiority.

When the Philippines became a colony of other countries, we were introduced to new systems and beliefs. We were taught that our culture is inferior to theirs. We were called uncivilized and were introduced to socially constructed beauty standards that Filipino beauty could never achieve. No wonder, many people in our country splurge on whitening products just to get rid of their brown skin. I am not surprised that many parents in our country require their children to make foreign languages their mother tongue because it symbolizes high status in our society.

This is my word: We may be different from our colonizers, but being different does not mean being less or greater than the other. Conflicts are differences and disagreements, but it does not always mean that one idea should be better than the other, simply because we are all unique.

Conflicts are usually seen as threats to relationships and hindrances to the achievement of goals, but come to think of it, what would a superhero story be like without a villain? It would be very dull and boring. Probably such kind of story could make anyone walk out of a movie house. Conflicts are the different colors that make a picture. It is the contrast between the superhero and the villain that reaffirms their existence and identity. It is the hardships and conflicts between them that make the victorious ending sweeter.

I stayed in the university for almost five years and the moment I stepped out of the campus, I knew I was a completely different person. I kept some of my values and principles but I also learned to be more open to other people’s beliefs.

I have learned that unity is not the absence of conflicts but it is when we achieve social cohesion despite our differences. It is choosing to still respect other people despite the presence of mutually exclusive ideas and opinions.

As a social worker at a drug treatment and rehabilitation center, I deal with families who are overcoming the ill effects of substance abuse. Many times, I am in awe of people who choose to stay in relationships regardless of their painful experiences. I am amazed by families who always forgive and love our clients unconditionally. I have learned from their stories that conflicts bring out the love and care that we are capable of giving.

Conflicts may be attached to some negative connotations, but I have seen in many people’s lives how those things help individuals get to know themselves and the people around them better. Being in situations involving conflicts give people opportunities to enhance their communication skills and level of patience. Moreover, conflicts teach people to respect other opinions and differences without losing their identity. I can attest to the fact that conflicts are to be blamed for changing people for the better and strengthening human relationships.

Wherever life is, there are conflicts. And because of this, good stories are born.

65 comments on “The Good Side of Conflicts

  1. Kurt Loreto on

    I have to agree that making any form of conflict taboo has been quite a hindrance on the Philippines when considering knowledge. Criticism is sugar-coated, and points that could have been made for improvement are left out.

    There were a few things in this post that finally helped me articulate the notion of conflict being wrong in our society, despite being a catalyst for progression. I learned quite a lot. Kudos.

  2. Mohammad Akram on

    Conflict is a sign of progress whether we refer it to Democracy or even in our personal day to day interaction.As we know conflict is inevitable, so we must get constructive things out of conflict that makes human experience matchless.

  3. RB on

    Great read. Sometimes, those we perceive as bad things are actually beneficial in the long run. We may never see those positive stuff now, but as soon as we broaden our perspective, see the bigger picture, then we realize that those bad things are what defines the outcome as satisfying and sweet.
    Good job on the superhero-villain example.

  4. Elvira P. Balao on

    Perfect, proficient and very well said Alexia Joyce! Their are indeed benefits of conflicts 🙂

    Continue to influence and inspire the minds and hearts of the youth and those who are about to give up through your essays.

  5. Mary Anne Moraleda on

    I agree with you. I grew up inside the same box (almost the same if I may say), as yours. Its comfortable, safe and secure that coming out is too scary. BUT and thank God, we were able to get out. Conflicts give opportunities! I hope alot of our people will be able to read this so their eyes will be open. Its okay to argue, speak up, voice up oppinions. It opens minds, brings out solutuons. Good job joyce! Im with you on this one.

      • Manuel Teopengco on

        As opposed to what others saying about conflicts as being destructive,I do believe that conflicts are meant to connect people since engaging into a healthy argument, without going lower to the point of using ad hominem, allows people to be more knowledgeable of the issue as they are shown a different perspective of the same in the course of the discussion.
        Therefore, conflicts, albeit involve differences in opinion, is actually an avenue for one’s growth as a critical thinker.

  6. Ahris on

    I’m no good at handling conflicts myself. Sometimes I just agree with people so that they can stop talking lol. However, upon reading this I have to agree; at times, the most innovative solutions often arise out of conflict. Always a good read friend❤️

  7. John Paul Singueo on

    It is indeed that there is always a good side with conflicts. When I was in my college days and listening to what is about Karl Marx and with his conflict theory my professor told us that life is nothing without contrast. Yes it true that conflict has its negative connotation but as we look out with everthing what we really achieve at present is the result from the conflict of yesterday. A good historical example of this is our freedom to Martial Law where a democratic country the Philippines has been made.

    How I loved this article of yours my dear colleague/friend. It is something that enlightened the people of the Philippines to express their feelings without any harm. What we really need today is to listen with everyone’s voice and put an action within our government and lives. Conflict is a way for everyone’s betterment in this world.

    Godbless you Alexia, continue to inspire and make a change through write-ups of yours. ❤😊

    • Hulyo on

      Conflict. We all knew this sounds negative. But in our profession, this is a challenge. To bridge the gap on the ideas and different point of views. Great job. Worth reading! God bless!

  8. rina on

    a good read to better understand the word conflict.
    expressing thoughts and opinions lead to conflict most of the time.
    conflicts can be resolved if both parties are open to talk about their opinions and one will be willing to bend down their opinion for reconciliation and better decision.

  9. Maria Cristina Santiago on

    A good read! As a teacher it reminds me to be more open to students’ opinions and to be more encouraging in letting them voice out their ideas.

    • Irene on

      Well said! Some people live a lifetime before they actually accept the fact that we are all unique; differences of opinion should ALL be respected.

    • Nestor on

      There are instances mentioned in the essay that I personally do not consider as raising to the level of a conflict but merely products of cultural, religious, and social diversities. From my own perspective I would define conflict as something resulting in grave and very serious consequences. The essay is very well written. However , I would have chosen a more appropriate title.

  10. allan serrano madera on

    i am a teacher alexia and i am proud to say that when a teacher and a student debates in a class that is not a sign of distespecting the teacher but in fact it develops the critical thinking of the students in a certain issues. thank u so much for ur article god bless

  11. Paul Macanas on

    Conflict, a serious disagreement or argument. Especially on opinions, principles or interests. This can be a result of a positive or negative outcome. That can change your current situations. So you should checked or assessed any of your conflicts. Look for the brighter side of it or the cons & pros of the conflict.

  12. Nancy Q. Capitan on

    A good read. I’ve known Alexa as a shy little girl, its nice to learn the depths of her thoughts. Always remember, nothing can solve any arguments and conflicts better than love.

  13. Iris on

    There is no such thing as always a yes or a no. People would always have different opinions regardless of social status, gender, religion etc. As Dale Carnegie said, we can all agree to disagree. Conflict is healthy when those involved are mature enough to handle it.

  14. Hermie on

    Congrats Joyce!Indeed, conflicts balance any situation or argument. Absence of such would not allow us to weigh things and come up with a sound decision. Conflicts bring the best in every situation.

  15. Issa Mendoza on

    Moving out from our small town has opened our eyes to a lot of realizations in life. To this day, I still thank my parents for sending me to Manila for my college education.

    Ate, I’m glad that I read your essay. It was worth reading. Hoping I can read more of your essays in the future.

  16. One Proud Mama on

    Conflicts open may doors of arguments and debates but one good thing about these discussions is that each one is given his/her side over issues. Thus it creates an atmosphere for US to pause and hear out everyone ‘ s opinion and arrived at a more in-depth realization of respecting each one’s position in every condition/ situation.

  17. Steven Altamirano on

    Absolutely well written and definitely an eye opener in the topic of conflict and what conflict can really do in our lives. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Sadik khan on

    This line”After that class, I started to see conflicts from a new lens and understood its other benefits”👌
    Many people in contact with the criminal justice system
    have drug abuse problems and histories. Detention
    without treatment frequently leads to the relapse into
    drug abuse after an offender returns to his or her com-
    munity. Treatment programmes will help to reduce not
    only drug abuse but also drug-related crimes. The coop-
    eration between treatment providers and criminal jus-
    tice systems is an important part of the treatment pro-
    grammes for those individuals.♥️ Treat by love🌏

  19. Alyssa Karen Sanchez on

    I always admire your work. Continue to be a blessing to everyone. You really have a big heart that can inspire others in many ways. ♥️

  20. I am Sam on

    I agree with you. Wherever there are conflicts, there is growth. Sometimes, it’s not your situation or environment that needs to change, but your perspective.

  21. Oh Oh Kobe on

    You have given simple but practical examples to support your arguments and your main point. Job well done.

    This is also helpful for us to understand that conflicts do not necessarily mean troubles.

    Thanks for sharing this. Whether you win or lose, you have already created an impact in your readers. Way to go, Lex!

  22. Christine on

    “I have learned that unity is not the absence of conflicts but it is when we achieve social cohesion despite our differences. ” – very well said! Conflicts have strengthened any relationship in ways we cannot even imagine! Nice read!!

  23. Lei Dela Cruz on

    This is very basic but I am amazed how it surprised me. I guess when we’re too overwhelmed by a lot of things, we need to take a pause to get back to basics. Thanks for writing this.

  24. Teta Lanuza on

    I would always wish to live in a utopia where there is no pain or suffering, but I guess we were made this way to grow and develop into our best version.

    I was expecting more supporting details to be convinced that conflicts can be good, nevertheless it was okay!

  25. Trishia de Leon on

    The article is insightful and indeed reflective on how Filipinos deal with conflict. The story on how you initially dealt with conflict, thru the process of realizing its significance, and ultimately seeing conflict as necessary for the human interaction and education to flourish. May you, thru this article, communicate more on how conflicts should not be avoided but on the other hand should be used and resolved for critical and harmonious relationships.

  26. Jocelyn dela Peña on

    These lines though 🙂 “I have learned that unity is not the absence of conflicts but it is when we achieve social cohesion despite our differences. It is choosing to still respect other people despite the presence of mutually exclusive ideas and opinions.”

    I remember Tatay Jess telling us before that conflict between people is good. Social and personal relationship gets complicated, but we end up being open in hearing others, learn from it, & respect each other. And eventually learn to accept and love those people despite them being unlikable and unlovable.

    • Racquel on

      Very informative! Conflict will always be part of our life, gave us freedom to verbalize your ideas as well as to listen and accept others ideas too.

  27. Rhonna on

    Loads of people suppress their anger or just ‘go along to get along.’ They think that by addressing a conflict, they are creating one, and simply keep quiet when upset. Unfortunately, this isn’t a healthy long-term strategy. Unresolved conflict can lead to resentment and additional unresolved conflict in the relationship.

  28. Eunice Ramos- Cronin on

    Very good read, so proud of your work Joyce!
    Conflicts play a vital, role in our everyday lives; personal, work, society. In our own Filipino culture, facing and discussing conflicts head on, most of the time is perceived as “ rebellious, challenging and argumentative “. We were not to question the older people’s decision, reasoning and opinion on things OR we will be called, ingrate, disrespectful and rude! No one is supposed to challenge people of authority, or they can be punished. Freedom of speech and expressing one’s opinion is suppressed and not practiced, for fear of being considered “different and highly opinionated”. It is proven that even children at their young age, who feel free to express themselves, grow up to be responsible, confident and assertive adults. They feel valued and respected, and maintain successful relationships, therefore building a stronger community/ society.

  29. Clarissa T. Pajares on

    I pray always if I encounter conflict to loosen my feelings, trusting the hand of our Lord. Conflict in any form happens everyday – in our family, at work, at the street, canteen or even while watching tv. The way we respond to it demonstrate our personality and how ae were raised from childhood. Most important is how deep we relate to our Lprd. Continue writing Joyce. Your essay is very scholarly, clear, organized and full of bright thoughts. At your age, only few mind this kind of activity. You gained respect and atttention from your readers. Congratulation and God bless your essay.

  30. Jojo Quijano on

    Nice one Joyce… 🙂 Good job! I have so many thoughts after reading your article. Congratulation in advance. Everyone must read your article. Galing mo!

  31. Virginia datu on

    There is beauty in conflict Alexia in the end Unity will arise. Thank you for Your talent in writing and God given wisdom. Praised God.

  32. Cyma on

    Totally agree! Besides, more often than not, it is through conflicts that we get to know ourselves more, discover our strengths and weaknesses, and strive to become the better version of ourselves.

    Conflicts bring out our deeper sense of understanding, patience, and love.

  33. Jonell on

    Yes, conflicts are inevitable as our views and perspectives vary from one another. Acceptance, and respect make a difference in making things tolerable in our society.


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