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Usurpation Of Freewill In The Age Of Discretion

Life is more manageable through aging because conflict resolution is an ability that can be perfected through practice. Time teaches what reason cannot is illustrated in a popular expression: The devil knows more because he is old, than because he is the devil.

A good example of the teachings of life experience is the different attitude toward children´s education between parents and grandparents. Mothers and fathers tend to bear the future of their descendants on the shoulders since they believe they can be decisive in their child’s temperament and upbringing. The life experience in conflict resolution accumulated by grandparents’ made them believe that children’s education is irrelevant because in the end every child will develop what he or she is at birth.

Conflict is life and the base for creative processes. There is no life without coexistence, and there is no coexistence without confrontation. To resist conflict is to resist life. Everyone can mange conflicts creatively, even in they don’t know it.

All human beings are born with genetic abilities for conflict resolution. If this assumption wasn’t true, the human species wouldn’t have existed or would have become extinct. We develop these abilities during our life. Abilities, which are evolutionarily conditioned for negotiating conflicts, become contextualized during our lives because of linguistic, cultural, social, political and religious factors. Professional abilities and techniques are added to these factors, and practice improves them.

Some of the first interactions of human beings were negotiation and mediation. Mother and child negotiate access to the mother’s milk. Solving conflict through persuasion is the contrary of imposing events. We make agreements in our family, commercial transactions, and labor relationships.

In 1926 Freud wrote an article about his friend Theodor Reik, a prominent member of the psychoanalytical society of Vienna. Reik was not a doctor and was charged for violating a law against quackery that declared illegal the practice of psychoanalysis by a non-doctor.

Freud sustained an imaginary dialogue with an impartial judge whom he tried to convince that everyone could espouse psychological thesis since specialized knowledge is not required. Such an activity, like conflict resolution strategies, isn’t exclusively reserved for the specialists, whereas disciplines such as medicine, psychics and chemistry are.

In his dialogue with the judge Freud cited the case of a fifteen year-old that was looking for a job as a babysitter. She was asked about her experience as a babysitter. She responded that she did have experience for she had been a young girl not long ago.

Similarly, if we are asked about our experience in conflict resolution, an answer could be that conflict resolution is something in which we have all always participated, participate, and will continue to participate.

During childhood and to a lesser degree for the duration of adolescence, we had no choice but to adhere to the adults that made decisions for us. This way of being is founded upon the thought that adults know how to make right decisions. Adults ignore the opinions of the youth and impose their own decisions.

However, in response to social prejudices and false impressions, the care of people of age seems equivalent to a regression during growth, when experienced people show inexperienced people how to survive. When an adult enters his third age his freewill is taken away. The care takers just assume the old person’s responsibility.

The challenge is to observe and then respect the realization of the person of age‘s freewill, not deciding for her/him. The desirable situation should allow him/her to respond to the conflicts they come across by using their own emotions and values. Their life experience will probably determine that their decisions will be the best for them.

A healthy aging process for conflict resolution thus requires a culture of respect and dignity towards persons of age discretion: the age in which by remaining silent listening was taught, by listening talking was taught, and by talking remaining silent was taught.


Luis Miguel Diaz

Luis Miguel Díaz, unfortunately now deceased, fathered four children and distrusted language, theories and authority, including his own as a father. Admires artists and scientists and their lives. He received his Law Degree at UNAM, Mexico (1974); and LLM (1976) and SJD (1986) at Harvard University Law School. President of the Interdisciplinary Center for Conflict… MORE >

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