Generative Conflict Map

Generative Conflict Map


We make mistakes and act out unconscious entitlements. Even with good intentions, we have harmful impacts. As new aspects of our selves emerge, we offend others’ expectations. We fail to meet their needs. We diverge from standard practice in our communities of practice, which are always evolving. We are working in contradiction to normative paradigms for the sake of social, racial and environmental justice, embracing new sex, gender and relationship paradigms, in dialogue with powerful illegal medicines. We are traumatized and endangered outsiders in the world of social norms and outlaws in the legal system. When we experience conflict, where do we turn?

Conflicts in the world of counternormative communities are likely to feel particularly powerful, explosive, or painful, because our work and play together involves our most intimate selves. We touch each other’s souls. Missteps, missattunements, or boundary blurring can be experienced at multiple scales, including violent sexual assault. Moreover, the sense of belonging we can often find – as outlaws in counternormative playspace – is often addressing a lifetime of unmet needs: for community, place, identity, welcome, co-regulation, and secure attachment. Social justice movements, sexual healing work, queer community, the psychedelic medicine world, recovery circles, or anywhere we find deep, soul-level connection and counternormative co-creation can offer a powerful balm to the souls of people who have not found belonging elsewhere. When harm unfolds in relationships where so much hope has been ignited, there can be a deeply traumatic impact.

How do we deal with conflict, while we go on making a world where differences between us can be welcomed and delighted in? We need to attend to harmful impacts, and do the work of ongoing social transformation and repair. What follows are reflections on – and a possible map for – a process of generative conflict in counternormative community. One or all of these steps might be employed in alternative processes of justice-seeking, handling a complaint, or managing a relationship conflict. Can conflict be a way to generate more love and more complex community? Can we learn to hold conflict as an integral part of social transformation, and belonging in difference?

When we feel danger, we are not neurologically resourced for creative engagement. Some kind of map is needed, because we so value empowered choice and voice, courage, creativity, pleasure and centered accountability. We value our communities of practice, and the new relational world we are co-creating. For the sake of the healing and well-being we know is possible, and honouring the resourced responsibility and tender care that are key to us, this is offered as a preliminary map, so we have something to refer to when conflict startles, frightens and threatens us. May it assist us in opening space and time for living an ethics based on love and justice, not just rules and roles.

This map is a guide to traversing an imaginary space where conflict happens between equals. There is no such space, and so the work of being responsible to power dynamics becomes integral to any generative conflict process. We can honour the authentic vulnerabilities of all involved with attention to privilege and precarity. How are we learning to use any privilege we hold in the service of what we care about? We are biophysically incapacitated in different ways by precarity. Conscious navigation of inequalities is essential.

An active, ongoing commitment to a Soul Mapping process is envisioned as a twin to the Generative Conflict Map – these processes are meant to work as complementary tools for co-creating ethical community. What values do we want to embody? What vulnerabilities do we need to tend, that especially challenge us in our lives and relationships? We also want to know and grow our Soul’s Relational Matrix. Who supports us in being who we want to be?