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Living with Discord


Photo By Zachary Nelson

“Creating harmony with dissonance is the goal of every great artist.”

In last week’s article, the concept of living in harmony was compared to how a symphony orchestra functions (click here to read that article). While all of us aspire to live our lives in total harmony, it simply is not going to happen. It many cases, the reverse appears to be the norm; discord is all around us. The key is dealing with it in a harmonious manner. Composers and songwriters face the challenge of how to take those dissonances and turn them into beautiful music.

When 3 or more notes are played together, they can form a “chord”. The more pleasant sounding chords are called major chords which can be virtually free of dissonance. However, many composers purposely write discord into the music and resolve it in an artful yet memorable way.  It’s not about avoiding or getting rid of the perceived conflict, it is learning to except its existence and working with it. Furthermore, great composers enhance what others perceive as ugly or spiteful, and transfigure it into meaningful masterpieces.

Dissonance is everywhere and constantly tooting its horn, so to speak. There are subtle moments as well as overwhelming events. No matter how much we strive to circumvent or thwart them, they arrive at the most unpredictable and unavoidable occasions. It’s important that we learn to, well, in a way, harmonize with disharmony.

Learning to work in conjunction with those who resonate with us on different levels requires a unique kind of patience and understanding. When challenging situations are resolved with kindness and thoughtfulness, it fosters an environment that works in everyone’s best interest.

Lately there have been countless examples of the opposite behavior. Leaders, as well as those in positions of authority, are displaying superb examples of taking tense situations and transforming them into even more unharmonious situations with ridiculous and childish tactics. Name calling has never been a technique used to unify and telling others their ideas and values are “stupid” isn’t going to convince them you are correct.

The art of working together is not an easy undertaking but is there a better way to resolve a conflict in a fair and equal society? Anything else would likely be usurpation of power for an unfair or selfish advantage.

On that note, focus this week on what can be done to make those around you and this world a better place by arranging to work more harmoniously; especially with those whom you may consider to be difficult. Just as those who work to perfect their craft, your skills in dealing with these situations will also improve. Pay attention to those moments when discord shows up and see how it can be turned it into a beautiful work of art.

Thanks to Zachary Nelson for the amazing photograph. Find out more about him at I look forward to your comments.

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