Strategies for building awareness for the potential of peace education in Cameroon Ben Oru Mforndip
Special Report
Has Democracy Enhanced Development in Africa? Conrad John Masabo
Permanent Emergency Powers in France: The ‘Law to Strengthen Internal Security and the Fight Against Terrorism’ and the Protection of Human Rights Lena Muhs
Women’s Political Representation in Sri Lanka: Leading towards Prosperity or Peril Pujika Rathnayake
Lack of empathy as a threat to peace Victoria Scheyer
Comment II
The death of democracy in Honduras Daniel Bagheri S.
Berta Vive Daniel Bagheri Sarvestani
The Persons Who Changed the Lives of Terrorists and Criminals Surya Nath Prasad

Teaching Peace from Tales of the City: Peace Education through the Memoryscapes of Nagasaki Patporn Phoothong
Special Report
Reflections of Refugees in Africa Wyclife Ong'eta Mose
Challenges and prospects of AU to implement the Ezulwini Consensus: The case of collective security and the use of force Tunamsifu Shirambere Philippe
The Right to Food Shant Melkonian
Freedom of Expression Under Threat in Zambia Mariateresa Garrido
Douglas Janoff on LGBTQIA Human Rights Luciana Téllez
Common Things: Communication, Community, Communal Peacebuilding Lina Patricia Forero Martínez
The political Crisis of the 2017 Honduran Election Daniel Bagheri S.
Research Summary
Water Security in the Sixaola River Basin Adrián Martinez Blanco and Diana Ubico Durán
Reborn Arunima Chouguley
An Open Letter to the American People: Political Responsibility in the Nuclear Age Richard Falk, David Krieger, and Robert Laney


Last Updated: 05/04/2012
Fight or Flight: A Picture Worth 500 Words
Dusty Bates Farned

Pepperdine University graduate student Dusty Bates Farned has an uncomfortable experience with a homeless man in Los Angeles and reflects on his own fight or flight response.

Last summer, an attorney friend visiting from overseas asked if I would help her with a class project. She was taking Cross-Cultural Conflict and the professor instructed them to put themselves in an uncomfortable position for four hours and write about it. I suggested South Central, Los Angeles. She asked if I would go with her and I had no alternative except to say, Yes.

We kicked off our tour with a visit to Pepperdine University’s original campus at Vermont and 79th. As told in the new book, The Malibu Miracle, Pepperdine left that location not for the view from Malibu, but because national media coverage of the violence in South Central was discouraging parents from sending their kids to college there. In total, she and I spent about three hours touring this infamous but improving neighborhood.

As the end drew near for our real-world tour, I suggested we visit Skid Row. After driving around 5th, 6th, 7th and some of the neighboring alleyways which thousands of homeless call home, we ended up at the Flower District. I convinced my friend she needed some flowers for her ocean view dorm room at Pepperdine. We strolled from shop to shop. No purchase in hand, we decided to try the last few shops nearest the car. As we crossed the street, I saw a great view of the L.A. skyline and pulled out my iPhone to take a picture.

photo by Dusty Bates Farned

A homeless man yelled at us. I ignored him. He then ran towards us. Now, I would say he got in my face, but as I was about a foot taller, that would have been impossible. Nevertheless, he got as close as he could and started berating me for not asking the shop owners for permission to take pictures. The shop owners? “I am taking a picture of downtown,” I told him. “Downtown is over there,” he replied. “Yes, and I am taking a picture of it from here,” I snapped back.

My friend started tugging at my shirt. “Let’s go,” she said. “Not until I get this picture,” I told her. “Let’s go to the car,” she said with a forceful tone while, tugging me in the opposite direction of the car. “The car is the other way,” I reminded her with the most condescending voice I could muster.

As we started walking again, I hurriedly snapped the picture on my iPhone. The man got behind us. I insisted we patron the last shops regardless. She insisted we get out of there ASAP. This struggle went on for a minute or two. Realizing flowers, regardless how fresh and beautiful, would be bitter sweet following this exchange, I reluctantly escorted her back to the car.

So what is there to learn from this? Psychologists are correct, there are at least two responses to conflict: fight or flight. Yet, for better or worse, sometimes it seems that we actually do a little of both.

Dusty Bates Farned is a master’s student at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution.