Contributing to Tension Situations


Some people seek for and thrive on tension. This is in especially evident today in our political climate. However, it may be true in family life, at work, with neighbors, or in church. Even if most of us seek to avoid conflict we may be drawn into situations because of the actions of others. Recent consideration brought to mind techniques used to create and maintain tension.

Opportunistic people exist. Such people see issues as “causes” for them to defend and opponents as objects to conquer. They use code words to push other people’s hot buttons in order to energize the cause with great emotional fervor. Language may be used to sway opinions, degrade others, gain a foothold or push an agenda. Phrases such as “radical”, “unfeeling”, “our kind”, their kind”, “racist”, “fascist”, “elitist”, and “deplorables” are examples.

Most situations do not have two sides but rather involve a web of feelings, convictions and opinions. Individually most of us cannot be easily labeled because we are not consistent in positions we adopt. Our thinking is not as rational as we like to think.  It is colored (or discolored) by our feelings, past experiences, influence of other people and personal convenience. Thinking is time consuming and difficult, therefore it is an effort to do it. It is much easier to react out of preconceived convictions and use rationale to defend conclusions.  It is easier to parrot phrases than think through issues.

Rumors abound and thus distort facts, undermine relationships, and create an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust. Qualities which make for good character and the betterment of life are often sacrificed to error and distortion without investigation into the context of the subject’s life or ulterior motives of the rumormonger. We need to verify facts and not vilify persons.

Awareness of these factors helps me keep issues in perspective, avoid being manipulated by others, and hopefully, not contribute to increasing tensions in difficult situations.

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