SBC Life Articles

Descenting a Skunk

Everyone has conflicts. During the first conflict with my wife, I didn't see her for a couple of days, and then slowly my left eye began to open. Now my eyes are wide open, and I realize that conflict is inevitable. Even if you marry Mr. Right, his first name will probably be Always.

One couple had been arguing about everything for years. They were tired of living in a perpetual state of conflict. Finally she tipped off her husband about the prayer she was petitioning to God. She said, "I've been praying for God to help us stop all this arguing by taking one of us to heaven. When He answers my prayer, I'm moving in with my sister." Well, I doubt God is going to answer that kind of prayer. God wants us to avoid conflict when the situation isn't worth it. A bulldog can whip a skunk, but it's not worth it. Most of the time, however, ignoring conflict is like ignoring termites. Eventually it will bring the house down.

One way to solve conflict is to avoid a middleman. There's a story out of Texas where a certain bank robber named Jorge Rodriguez operated along the Texas border around the turn of the century. He was so successful in his forays that the Texas Rangers put an extra posse along the Rio Grande to stop him. Sure enough, late one afternoon, one of these special Rangers saw Jorge Rodriguez stealthily slipping across the river. He trailed him at a discreet distance as he returned to his home village. He watched Jorge mingle with the people in the square and then go into his favorite cantina to relax. The Ranger slipped in to get the drop on Jorge. With a pistol in his hand he said, "I know who you are, Jorge Rodriguez, and I have come to get back all the money that you have stolen from the banks in Texas. Unless you give it me, I'm going to blow your brains out." There was an unforeseen obstacle, however, Jorge did not speak English, and the Texas Ranger was not versed in Spanish. They were two adults at a verbal impasse.

About that time, an enterprising little Mexican said, "I am bilingual. Do you want me to act as translator?" The Ranger nodded, and the Mexican put the words of the Ranger into terms that Jorge could understand. Nervously, Jorge answered back, "Tell the big Texas Ranger that I have not spent a cent of the money. If he will go to the well in the Town Square, face north, count down five stones, he will find a loose stone. Pull it out and all the money is behind it. Please tell him quickly." The translator got a solemn look on his face and said to the Ranger in perfect English, "Jorge Rodriguez is a brave man. He says he is ready to die." Well, you just might die if you try to solve conflict by talking about it to someone other than one you have a conflict with.

Think of three words when solving conflict. The first is information. Many times just a little more information will help solve a problem. Such was the case with a group of soldiers from Nepal who fought on the side of Britain against Indonesia. This regiment was not trained as paratroopers but a particular mission required that they parachute into a remote location. The British asked them to volunteer to jump for this mission. But they said no.

Later they sent word to the British that they accepted the mission under certain conditions. The first condition was that the area in which they landed was reasonably soft, and the second was that the plane would have to fly as slowly as possible and only at an altitude of 100 feet. The British said the planes always fly as slowly as possible during jumps but they wouldn't be able to fly 100 feet from the ground. At such a low altitude there is not sufficient time for the parachutes to open. "Parachutes?" they exclaimed, "We get parachutes?" These brave soldiers did not know they were getting parachutes. In that case, they were willing to jump from the plane wherever and however the mission required. A little information can make all the difference in the world. It can change hesitation into participation, fear into courage, and it can change a no to a yes. You'll be amazed what people will do for you if you just take the time to communicate with them. They might even jump out of an airplane.

Information is important and so is reconciliation. Many times, resolution is impossible. No matter how much you talk you may never see eye to eye. So decide that you will still walk hand in hand, unless the person really is a skunk. Then you might try to convince them to jump out of the airplane. Just kidding. Even the skunks of the world deserve love.

Our last word is understanding. A boy was standing at the side of the highway throwing clumps of mud at the cars passing by. Finally, one irate driver stopped, got out of the car, and yelled, "Hey kid, what's the idea?" Before he could say anything else, the boy said, "Thank you for stopping. I've tried to wave others down but no one would stop. My dad and I were camping and he's hurt badly. He's over here in the brush. Please help us."

So, next time you're in a conflict with someone, think information, reconciliation, and understanding. That skunk may just be crying out for help. Even if that person is a skunk, think Cocker Spaniel instead of Bulldog.

    About the Author

  • Charles Lowery