The Lion and the Antelope

Image by Frank Vincentz via Wikimedia Commons

I was trawling through SMBC Comics, and I found one in particular that caught my attention.

It may not be the most hilarious page Mr. Wiener* has ever penned, but it makes a lovely point about conflict.

(*Yes, that is his name.)

One person’s bad day is another person’s best day ever– and in a lot of cases, you can’t have one without the other. Take, for example, a lion and an antelope: either the lion and her cubs risk starvation and the antelope gets to live another day, or the lion gets to eat while the antelope dies a horrible death. Neither can win except at the expense of the other.

Often the people involved have no idea what’s going on, which creates room for all kinds of tragedy. A sweet moment between father and daughter becomes horrifying when it’s colored with the extinction of an unknown society. Hamlet’s single-minded investigation into his father’s murder takes a sickening turn when he unwittingly drives Ophelia to madness and suicide. Edmund’s fondness for that lovely woman in white and her Turkish Delights inadvertently gets Aslan killed.

Of course, when characters do know the whole story, it creates a whole different kind of conflict: suddenly you’ve got questions like “which of us deserves to come out on top?” and “is what I have to gain worth what they have to lose?”– the answers to which can speak volumes about that person’s character.

For the most part I’ve been dealing with pretty large-scale conflicts, but not every struggle needs to be life-and-death. Often you’ll find out as much– or even more– about your character by the way they handle small disputes.

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