But “High Conflict,” the subject of her book, is very different. Once they are involved in high conflict, people become certain about their religiosity, forming negative perceptions about those who have a different position and believing that the only acceptable solution is total Is a victory. Like Friedman, they prepare for war on trivial disputes.
Such conflict, warns Replay, is a fascinating trap. Once we enter, we find that we cannot exit. … More and more of us do not understand how spoiled our lives are. It helps to illustrate the persistence of zero-included conflicts in all aspects of social and political life, ranging from frivolous divorces to decades-long civil war.
Anyone is completely unfit for this trap. But even conflicts that appear atypical, Ripley points out, often over time. Individuals, sometimes entire societies, can reach a breaking point. As the costs of conflict rise, so does the desire to overcome endless quarrels.
In his search for a solution, Replay suggests that the process of avoiding these situations usually involves five steps. The participants in the conflict, she suggests, need to “investigate understanding” which invested them so much in the first place. They should “reduce the binary”, recognizing that they can share more values and interests with their rivals than they realize. They must “marginalize those starting the fire”, who want to listen to those who get a thrill out of the fight. They must “buy time and make space,” preventing themselves from growing when they feel triggered. Most important, they need to “complicate the narrative”, recognizing that any story that involves pure protagonists on one side and the villains of the cartoon on the other is unlikely to be completely accurate.
Ripley’s book is not very political. Although she now discusses the deep division that separates us from the United States, her main motivation is to show that dynamics push us into higher conflict – as well as technologies that can help us get out again – universally Huh. Whether it describes personal skirmishes or political battles, the same themes emerge.
This universal view further reinforces the implications of the book. In most deep conflicts, the hope of securing a convincing victory over your opponent becomes a dangerous chimera. If you are stuck in a trap, the only way you can recognize this is that you have to find a way to work together despite your differences. For those of us who despair towards our fellow citizens, the hope that we can get the country we want them to win is an important lesson.
In his own small way, Gary Freedman has started a path out of high conflict. A few years after he was first elected, he finally recognized the enormous cost he was paying to fall into the trap. The community that once felt like a magic retreat from the world was losing its charm. Even his relationship with his wife and children suffered.