Sun Tzu’s The Art of War speaks of a way to handle conflict using the best possible strategies for success. And by success, I mean reaching a viable solution that works for all parties. It is not a zero sum game, where one wins at the expense of another. The first step is to seek knowledge – of ourselves, of others, and the world around us. Most conflicts arise and escalate simply because we do not take the time to understand the source and reasons for disagreement.
The last few words given by Sun Tzu go to the heart of the matter. If you engage in a quarrel, be certain of your motives. Fighting for the sake of fighting or to gratify your self-importance is to be avoided at all costs. Once a friendship is destroyed, a relationship renounced, there is no turning back. A wise and noble person is always alert, ever vigilant. When conflicts arise, prudence and foresight are the finest companions. The greatest battle strategy finds the way to keep peace.
“No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.
Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.
But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.
Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War