Thomas F. Crum The Magic of Conflict: Turning a Life of Work into a Life of Art New York: Simon and Schuster 1987, 254pp paperback
THOMAS CRUM IS AN American martial artist and co-founder, with singer John Denver, of the Windstar Foundation, an education and research centre for creating a sustainable future. In this book he adapts the strategies of a martial art, aikido (the way of life-energy) to conflict resolution, stress reduction, transformation of one's life "into a work of art," and service to the world.
Aikido, according to Crum, meets attack or conflict by accepting it as a chance to use energy creatively together. It dispenses with "win or lose" assumptions. He discusses the importance of being physically "centered"-difficult for me to grasp with no experience in martial arts. Mental "centering" is accomplished by meditation. Crum suggests many engagingly playful ways to do so.
CRUM DESCRIBES an energy field (ki) around each person and uses this notion to discuss our connectedness with others and the planet, our responsibility to overcome fear and reach out to others. "True strength is willingness to blend energies."
He suggests that we learn from children in being always willing to discover the world anew and to consider "failures" as learning opportunities. We must be willing to understand the other person's point of view and willing to change, willing to resolve conflict by "co-creating" a common vision. He discusses the compassion needed to understand the many possible responses to conflict, including fighting, deception, and withdrawal.
A few chapters into this book found me a little skeptical. More West-Coast pop psychology for rich and successful people who are bored, I thought. I ended by finding real wisdom in it and am ready to recommend it to others. Not the least of its treasures are many wonderful quotations: "It's no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is the preaching"-St. Francis of Assisi. This book contributes to our interesting task of leading peaceful, compassionate, and aware lives while we work for peace.