Resolving conflict leads to renewed relationship

“Without forgiveness life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.”

Roberto Assagioli

I was born and raised on Miami Street here in Tiffin. That house and many others are, of course, gone, and in that area are some beautiful Tiffin University buildings. Miami Street in those days was, and sometimes still is, referred to as Little Italy, as there were several Italian families living there.

We had a lot of friends to chum around with because there were a lot of kids in that area. Each family had their fair share of them. Consequently, there always was a bunch of kids outside.

Just a block north and running parallel to Miami until the two streets joined is Clay Street. Adjacent to that area was Rosenblatt Scrap Yard — or the junk yard, as we called it.

One day when I was just a kid, one of my friends came up to me and said, “Hey, Frank, you know what?” I asked what and he said, “We’re supposed to fight the Clay Street guys today because a couple of them said something bad about us guys on Miami Street.”

I’m not sure how old I was, but I think somewhere around 8 to 11.

We were to be down there by the junk yard on Miami Street at a certain time, and the Clay Street guys would be up a little ways on Clay Street. When the time came, I reluctantly went. The Clay Street guys were at their location and we were by the junk yard.

We all just stood in our spots looking mean and shouting to each other; things like, “Oh, yeah, well, why don’t you come here and say that.” But no one moved from their designated area. It was just a lot of shouting.

After we all said what we wanted to say, we started to thin out. We called them chicken and they called us the same. As I think about it, I believe all of us were a little chicken. Actually, the truth of the matter was, it was getting the time of day when our mothers would be putting supper on the table, and we did not want to miss that.

Yes, I know; some might be thinking, “Cute story, but so what? What has that got to do with the sad stories that are happening all around us these days? What does that little boy squabble have anything to do with all the violent demonstrations that we see right now?”

Actually, nothing, except for the fact that it causes me to understand a Bible verse which says, “Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3. That verse is easier to understand now.

I certainly realize you can’t compare the issues of the little boys with the issues we have today — or can we? We, as adults, have got to understand that an issue for a child, while not seeming important to us, could very well be for the child. And here’s something to think about, while we view some of the issues we have as important, to the child they may seem trivial.

Nevertheless, think about how peaceful it would be if we could handle our issues as they did.

Let me share some of my thoughts with you — certainly not professional advice from a qualified person, which I am not. They are only thoughts from an 86-year-young man. I share them as I would to any friend.

I hope you don’t mind if I pose a few questions. If you have been having an ongoing conflict with a family member, what would it accomplish in your personal life if you had the spirit as the little Miami and Clay street kids had? If you have had a conflict with any family member that has kept you apart for far too long, regardless of what caused it, how would it affect your wellbeing if you would give it up regardless of whose “fault” is was?

Now, just a suggestion; if what caused the conflict has you churning inside, give them a call — forgive. If it will hurt your pride, remember that trying to protect your pride can be very expensive. If you feel that he or she is the one who should make the first call, then this could go on forever.

If you are having some difficulties with your children, tell them how much you love them and that they are an important part of your life. Peace within the family is so precious and worth so much more than lost pride; this is so important. If you are the one who can restore the peace that you once had, but because of your pride you do not do it, then tell me, is it all worth it?

If any should have and conflicts, respectfully ask that you to think deeply and seriously about renewing your good relationship.

As someone once said, “The love of a family is one of life’s greatest blessings.”