Many people believe that by avoiding conflict, they are being peaceful and they are preventing an escalation of more conflict. While it’s true that fights and other conflicts should not be instigated, if one is brought to you you are not doing yourself nor the world any favors by avoiding conflict. If conflict is brought to you and you do nothing about it, and all you do is try to hide from it, all that you do is make things much worse.
First off, it is natural and healthy to want to defend yourself (and perhaps others you care about like your children if you have any). While starting a fight is wrong, you may be called upon to end a fight; and then you had better be prepared to do so. Like it or not, many people in the world have some pretty vile intentions. They aren’t all peaceful; many people want to start violence. They prey upon peaceable people, for they offer the least resistance, or at least the violent ones expect that to be the case. This is why wise people have said, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” This is also a basis for the study of martial arts. Martial arts students are taught to always avoid a fight if they can; but if they are cornered and threatened, or if they have the opportunity to defend someone else who is helpless, they are obliged to use their potentially deadly skills and fight.
So, when you avoid a conflict that someone else insists on bringing to you, you are repressing yourself. You are holding yourself back; this can cause harmful feelings to build up inside yourself and eat away at your life. But this attitude could also make you neglect your duties. If you have an abusive spouse but you always try to avoid conflict, what do the children see? They see that it’s okay to abuse someone, or to be abused by someone who “loves you”, or to beat up on you.
But there is something else: you are giving power to the oppressor or abuser. They sense backing down as a sign of weakness, and to them that indicates they should ACCELERATE their abusive, harmful, destructive behavior. This just makes conflict worse.
It is your obligation to not allow the advancement of abusers and oppressors if you can help it. By showing strength and resolve to someone who seeks to harm you in some way, you make them recoil; you send them the signal that they cannot so easily spread their toxin through the world. You also build up your own self-esteem and sense of self-worth. If push comes to shove and you have to fight, so be it. If you want peace, prepare for war.