An Art. A Discipline: Not Lashing Out
Last night I was subjected to verbal malice barely disguised as humor. It was rancorous teasing that took me back to my teens when I was a very short boy (5'1" when I graduated high school). I found myself once again being a 16 year old unfairly bullied and I came very close to "bitch slapping" my verbal assailant; ready to escalate to greater physical violence. I knew from my past experience, I could humiliate and possibly hurt this person. My past experiences at being bullied provided me with what I came to call "some ugly habits."
We have entered into an age of aggression. Stephen Hawking fears that human aggression will destroy us (humanity) all. In an era where aggression is not only accepted, but lauded, it becomes more and more difficult to exercise restraint (i.e. to not lash out at anything that makes us uncomfortable.) Hunter S. Thompson, put it succinctly when he said, "we are a land of  million used car salesmen all armed with guns and no compunction to use them against anyone who makes us uncomfortable."
Why Here? What Prompted This?Why write about restraint and aggression in a blog about global warming and population explosion? Because aggression may very well be part of the underlying root causes of anthropogenic climate change and aggression certainly threatens the well being of humanity. The way humans aggressively exploit the planet with little care for the near or far future can only be described as "aggression"
What prompted this now was two things. An article a friend of mine sent me about remember that the Japanese aggression prior to and during World War II and the above mentioned incident.
Acceptance of AggressionWhat is most unsettling were my memories of the positive reinforcement for lashing out with physical violence that accompanied my physical violence. Physical violence thwarted some of the bullying and some of the girls in school found it attractive. However, in later years, I would find this behavior hampered my growth as a human being. As a culture we (The US) are seeing the costs of aggression, though many choose not to see those costs: A quagmire of violence in the Middle East that is expanding globally; and rising brutal police aggression, etc....
Stewing in the PastWhat I know from my own experience last night is that my impulse to throw my fists was rooted deeply in the past, consciously and sub-consciously. Moving away from being that aggressive teen took a concerted effort to not stew about the mistreatment bestowed up on me years ago; a hard journey though many bottles of Jack Daniels. This stewing in past memories is rife in most of the acute incidences of world aggression:
- Israel vs Palestine
- Sunni vs Shi'ites
- Russians vs Ukrainians