The other day I was in a conversation with an old friend, and some new acquaintances who I would most likely never see again. We were jawing away about rock and roll. Twice I tossed out bits of pertinent trivia, and twice I was quickly told by one of the acquaintances that I was wrong. Both times I knew I was right, and both times I backed off immediately.
The next day I was walking with my friend. He had done some research since the day before.
“You were right,” he said. “Joni Mitchell did write the song Woodstock, and Bill Bruford did drum for Genesis on their first post-Gabriel tour.”
“So why didn’t you call that asshole out yesterday when he said you were wrong? You’re always avoiding conflict. You should show some balls when you know you’re right.”
“Okay, as a favor to you, I’ll give you some conflict. You’re wrong.”
“That’s more like it!” He laughed. “Please hammer me some more!”
“I don’t avoid conflict,” I said. “Actually what I do is just the opposite. Avoiding conflict is easy. What I do is much harder. I end it.”
“Oh please do explain.”
“Avoiding conflict is what a bullfighter does. He sees the conflict coming, and he moves out of the way. If a bullfighter were to stand still, and face the bull as the bull charges, and allow himself to be impaled and killed, that would be ending the conflict. When a person charges at me with words and ideas that are in conflict with mine, I just stand there. But it’s different than bullfighting in that words and thoughts don’t draw blood, so when I end a conflict, nobody gets hurt. Which is kind of the whole point.”