Pacificism vs. Pacify

For many years, I was raised to believe that the best way to resolve conflict was to either avoid it or quash it altogether as quickly as possible.

To this day, almost always my mother will apologize for walking into a room if I am meditating or exercising and then leave, even if she has something urgent to attend to because she would rather “avoid” any possible conflict.

I remember a time when my father witnessed a former boss of his rig a contest involving auctioning off some high powered tools, and instead of confronting the boss about it, shortly thereafter my father simply quit to avoid the whole situation.

Like my parents, and myself for many years, I think many equate any kind of conflict or frank speaking as some sign of disrespect or rudeness. Several friends have said multiple times that they prefer to “avoid conflict altogether,” saying they don’t want the person or persons to “feel uncomfortable” or “start a scene.” It reminds me of what my parents have said in the past about flying under the radar and how many would rather pacify a situation than or person than act as a pacifist.

But over the years, the difference between the two has become even more stark.

If one is simply looking to pacify someone, there is no growth on either side. I’ve noticed that many with poor self-esteem often tend to pacify. This isn’t to say that pacifying someone, a group or situation isn’t always a negative thing, but if it is coming at the expense of growth or to simply “avoid conflict,” then nobody is learning.

Pacifism means an attitude of non resistance, opposing war and violence to settle things, specifically bearing arms. One can look through history and see how often pacifists were involved in a conflict.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but it certainly helps to understand the difference.

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