Some would say that conflict followed Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. Certainly, it is a key element of life. And, while major conflicts such as war have destroyed many lives and been evil forces in this world, conflict can also produce very positive results.
So, if one wishes, as Emerson said, to create a "new path" from the typical, one could write about the benefits of conflict. Recently, there has been a book published entitled, In Defense of Unhappiness; in this book the author states that our society has become so obsessed with being happy that we have taken anti-depression drugs to still the unrest in our souls. [This rings of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World in which people take soma to quiet the stirrings that "disturb" them.]
It is a fact that history confirms that no great achievements in individual lives and with societies occur without some struggle. For, only a dull complacency exists in people who have no conflict. LeGuin's short story, "The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas" explores this very idea; in this story of a utopia of sorts, all the people but one are happy; they have been happy for so long that "smiles have become archaic." However, there is a dullness to their lives and an evasion of the reality of the existence of one who must suffer for the rest.
Looking at the history of the United States, as an example, the greatest leaders of this country emerged from the conflict with England's control of the colonies. Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington--these were men who demonstrated their mettle by rising to meet the conflict. Through their unselfish struggles, the United States of America was formed, then, as a country of freedom.
Sadly, now the evidence is that many people do not appreciate this freedom because it has little meaning when it is all one has ever known. Clearly, human beings cannot attain sterling qualities if they have not struggled and grown; if they have not had conflict. The old cliche, "You can't have one without the other" rings true, indeed.
Conflict arises from two different belief systems. The newspaper and media report on national and international conflicts between religious groups (Jews and Protestants), political parties (Democrats, Republicans), bordering nations (Middle East) and even within scientific theories (evolution or creation). When more than one explanation, belief, orientation, or opinion exists, conflict can occur. Some people are anti-abortion and others are pro-choice. Some believe in same sex marriage and others believe in marriage between any two consenting adults. Every voting situation represents the conflict between the people who approve of one person or idea and those who oppose the same person or idea.
To write a successful essay, pick a conflict that has occurred in your own life and has left you with vivid memories. With each vivid memory, you can describe (show ) not tell what was going on, who was involved, what the conflict was, what feelings were generated, and how it got resolved. Keep in mind that children naturally have conflicts with their parents and other authorities as they mature into adulthood. Which one can you remember?
In any essay on conflict, there are several approaches to be taken. They center on the different types of conflict. You could analyze the notion of conflict between individuals, where a person or group of people hold fundamentally incompatible beliefs. Another approach could be to center on the notion of internal conflict, or battles that rage within a particular person. A conflict that pits an individual against an entire group could be another venue in which conflict can be analyzed and discussed. Finally, conflict between an individual and the state of nature could yield much in the way of analyzing how individuals analyze the nature of conflict and their role within it.
An essay on conflict could be about anything: war, family conflict, neighbour conflict, etc. A great book all about conflict is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It has every imaginable type of conflict one could think of. It is a critically acclaimed work and also controversial.