Embrace the conflicts

Today I attended KPMG’s Executive Conference here in Oslo. Among the speakers were Fareed Zakaria (CNN anchor), Anders Fogh Rasmussen (12th NATO Secretary General) and Børge Brende (our Foreign Minister). The title of the conference: “International conflicts – Business Impact“.


The speakers gave interesting insights into the history and status on current world conflicts and how they influence world business. The angles were intelligent and wise, covering in particular the many conflicts in the Middle-East and the war in eastern Ukraine. The seriousness of the conflicts, their problems and negative impacts were in focus. The consequences to human lives, trade and business and to world economy were highlighted. Solutions were discussed.

The prosperity of the West with capitalism as the vehicle for success was covered in some detail. The element of competition was praised as the central driving force of capitalism. It was a package of excellent content wrapped in a sober and well prepared form. Short of a representative from Al-Qaeda, nothing seemed to be missing.

Except an embracing of conflicts. Not the most horrific conflicts where children are victims of violence. But the world needs risk. It needs danger.

While most people would want a world without conflicts, they get quite pensive when they stop to really contemplate a completely peaceful world robbed of any conflict, of any and all crimes, and of all but the most mundane challenges. While the Western world owes much of its recent success to the inherent conflict in capitalism, the speakers didn’t express the relevant point that mankind owes much also to its more violent conflicts.


When Brendan and I recently met with the IRA, I realized that while the peace treaty of Northern Ireland saved the lives of so many people, it also came with a cost, a tangible downside. With less to fight for, with less to die and live for, life becomes less challenging and more dull. And with dullness comes boredom and ultimately even depression.

Perhaps what most people want is the wanting of a goal and not the goal itself.