Not all conflict is good. However, when handled properly, conflict is constructive and healthy. In fact, the ability to build a cohesive team requires it. Without the free expression of opinion, one is unable to feel a sense of ownership and consequently be committed to the cause.
The founders of the United States of America understood this, which is why the bedrock of our great nation is religious liberty and freedom of speech in the context of a humble acknowledgement that we are endowed by our Creator, i.e. Nature’s God. They understood the dangers of a fake tolerance, which says, “We’ll tolerate you as long as your opinion is within our tolerance.” They also had a healthy respect for human depravity and designed the American system of government with that in mind. They wisely devised many forms of accountability in order to mitigate the myriad of ways corruption can occur when humans pursue and possess power. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best system of government ever created in history of humankind.
Team cohesion can only be put to test at the intersection of differing ideas. Whenever honest dialog or a robust discussion about difficult topics can not be done in a civil, peaceful, safe manner, then it’s time for everyone to do some growing up. Team cohesion does not mean everyone agrees, but it does mean everyone trusts and respects each other enough to engage, connect and debate important topics that affect strategy, tactics and unity. Once having arrived at a decision, the team then rallies around it and everyone commits and is held accountable for the results. Even those that disagree, move on with their support because their voice was heard and want to be part of something bigger than themselves. The common good is being served.
What throws a wrench into team cohesion is self-centeredness. A self-centered person is someone who prioritizes themselves over everything else. They want it their way. They will do their own thing. They have to take care of themself first. They don’t have time for others. They are the most important thing. In fact, the root cause of all human relationship problems is self-centeredness. All crime is self-centered. Many social problems are caused by groups of people, such as racists, sexists and chauvinists, who are self-centered and think they are better than other groups of people.
Love of self prevents a person from loving Nature’s God because no one can serve two masters. Either they will hate the one and love the other, or they will be devoted to the one and despise the other. No one can serve both God and self. Therefore, relational harmony and healthy conflict depend on the correct prioritization of love. Being selfless does not mean thinking less of yourself, but it does mean thinking of yourself less. The only way to do that is to love God first.
Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor next. Love yourself third. Not loving in this order is the root of all discord. Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. The only way to establish neighborly love is to love in this order.
John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington all had different religious beliefs, however they were humble and wise enough to respect that Nature’s God needed to be at the center of a sustainable new nation that promoted healthy conflict and unalienable rights. God used these flawed humans to establish the greatest system of government that has ever existed. God used these imperfect men to create a “shining city on a hill” that is rooted in neighborly love. That awareness is worth acknowledging so that healthy conflict is embraced and promoted. Honest dialog and robust discussions about difficult topics can and should be done in a civil, peaceful, safe manner. It’s in the USA’s DNA.