Sweeping important conflict under the rug doesn’t make it go away. We know this, even as we continue to do it. Hidden so we don’t have to look it in the eye, the conflict still draws our attention and increases our frustration.
Once upon a time there was a rug merchant who saw that his most beautiful carpet had a curious bump in the center.
Mindful of the carpet’s value, he carefully tiptoed over to the bump and pressed on it gently with his foot. He succeeded in flattening it out.
But the bump reappeared in a new spot.
The rug merchant walked over to the new location and jumped on the bump. Once again, it disappeared for a moment and then reappeared elsewhere.
Again and again the rug merchant jumped on the bump, flattening it briefly only to have it appear in a new location. Of course, he’d lost all patience and failed to take care with the beautiful carpet, which was now scuffed and mangled from all the stomping and jumping.
Finally, he lifted a corner of the carpet to peak underneath. An angry snake slithered out and away, relieved, no doubt, finally to be released.
Important conflict doesn’t disappear when swept under the rug. It only disappears from view. But it’s there, lurking, moving, drawing our attention while we’re trying to do other things, just like the snake in this story I adapted slightly from the original by Peter Senge.
Sweeping important matters under the rug gives us only temporary relief. And what we do in the name of efficiency, or fear, or avoidance eats away at so much of our lives over the long run.
So much for efficiency.