Conflict is Better Than Stagnation.

There’s a subject I’d like to address today that has always been on my mind, and something that I firmly believe, but also something that I’ve never been able to articulate as well as I would like. At least, until I saw this quote:

“Conflict is better than stagnation.”

Frederick Douglass

This is a quote that really speaks to me in the way that it’s something I’ve very slowly come to have understood in my life. It’s one of those things you have to experience to truly discover. And although at first it may not seem to make any sense, if you go just a little deeper, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.


Stagnation won’t lead you into the wonders of the ocean. Instead, it’ll leave you waiting, always waiting… wondering what lies beneath the waves. (Photo credit: sunnyUK)

I’ve learned that there is nothing worse than stagnation in life. To cease one’s drive/effort for development is to (in my opinion) cease interest in life. You stop discovery, you lose your drive, your passion. Commonly misunderstood, stagnation is not at all stability. It’s the halting of growth and innovation. Maybe it’s because I’m a romantic (a.k.a. personality type 4), but a string of pointless, eventless days affected my mood dramatically.

That aside, conflict is the reaction to digging deeper in life, of exploration. You cannot simply “grow” without any challenges. We learn from our mistakes, but we don’t make mistakes if we don’t try new things (unless the mistake is not trying new things).

Conflict, eventually, has to lead to resolution. All conflict ends. Wars end. Fights cannot last forever. Struggles are transient. All pain is temporary. And what lies beyond may be discovery, depending on the form of resolution. A constant, though, is the growth.

In the end, one thing remains the same: if there is no struggle, no conflict, no battle that is fought, there can be no progress. Emotional, and physical (physical obstacles, facing limits, etc.) I’m talking about everything in our lives.

I always talk about growth and discovery. It’s why I believe we’re here. But it’s not easy an easy thing to go through. In fact I believe it’s the hardest thing you can do in life. Because anything that teaches you anything will be painful, as pain is our greatest teacher.

Not-coincidentally, the same amazing man that said the quote above, said this:

Frederick Douglass portrait

Frederick Douglass portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.”

–Frederick Douglass

I think he pretty much sums it up – if you want progress, you have to face obstacles first. You have to be strong. It’s a decision that only you make, if you’re ready to take it on.



38 thoughts on “Conflict is Better Than Stagnation.

  1. Mr. Prose this is a wonderful post. Through my journey, a similar quote has manifested itself as true as the one you provided…”When you stop trying, you start dying”.

  2. Thanks for this. This is the path I’ve been walking for quite some time. Sometime it’s hard to convey this philosophy with others but now I have your excellently written blog post to make that particular struggle a little bit easier.

    • I completely agree. At first glance, one would think this is nonsense. But in reality, it is very true about our lives. Thank you for the compliment and for reading!

  3. Suffering (conflict) is what drives us. If there was no suffering we would not evolve, we would not push forward to expand the boundaries of our capabilities. Growth is the direct product of suffering, both on the material and on the spiritual level.

  4. Wise words. Sometimes the truth can be a bitter pill to swallow but you’re right in that conflict facilitates growth. Initially, I didn’t see the quote as positive but that was because I was reading it in my usual lazy style. When I read your explanation I had to agree with your conclusion.

    This is slightly off topic but you mentioned you’re a 4 personality-on the Enneagram? I am a 5w4 🙂

    • Thank you. Yes, I chose to take a positive spin on the quote, as I believe growth is a good thing.

      Yes I am the romantic, and it’s odd, but I feel like your personality is shown through your words.

      • Hehe, I was thinking the same of you 😉 Our personalities reflect themselves in our writing style and use of language. I can usually tell if I’ve found another ‘kindred spirit’ by reading the person’s writing 🙂

      • I’m hoping you see a little bit of that in me… If you do, I highly recommend you keep reading, I would love to hear what you think on my works (you can also go back in time on my blog, I have about 90 pieces worth).

  5. I couldn’t agree more with this post! Stagnation is the most frustrating thing for me and I know the feeling as I’ve experienced (still quite experiencing) it myself. Thanks for this post, very enlightening..

    Thanks too for visiting my site and liking my post! 🙂

  6. I know first hand why conflict is better than stagnation. One of the reasons why i am in the state i am. Being with someone who refused to face conflict even if it meant death of a relationship.
    I agree with that quote and your post so totally that I HAVE TO reblog it.

  7. Reblogged this on Life, Christ & Me and commented:
    This post by mr.prose touched a nerve so deep that it had to be ‘re-featured’ on my page.

    Conflict is good. Okay, not all conflict. But conflict vis-à-vis decay is definitely to be preferred. And like mr.prose so rightly pointed out – conflict ends eventually. But never without a discovery. You will either discover a mid-way or receive a clarity on further action translating into growth one way or the other. But you will be sans the frustration of not knowing, not growing or not moving on.

  8. Couldn´t agree more. “To cease one’s drive/effort for development is to (in my opinion) cease interest in life” pretty much sums it up. There´s so much to enrich our lives out there, why not take advantage, especially nowadays, when it´s so easy.

  9. Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may return once again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.|

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