We live in a quarrelsome world. Everyone wants to fight, to express their power, values, opinion. People are offensive, we are offensive to others, and no one wants to be responsible for the anger and dissolution dividing all of us. It seems easier to punch it out, yell it out, fight it out. It’s hard not to take up an attitude to protect and defend. It is easy to get angry and yell, to put someone in their place, give them a piece of our mind, and it feels good at the time.
Everyone wants to fight, but exactly where is the battle? Someone cut me off on the road, do I jeopardize their life and my own? When kids won’t listen, or spouse doesn’t understand, or the boss is a jerk, do I put them down, write them off, spread rumors, make assumptions, hold grudges? We want to teach lessons to people that want to teach them to us, and yet everyone thinks they are right, even when we criticize, complain, and hassle.
There is a battle everywhere we go, unless we choose something else. We could win all these small battles before they begin by facing the real one; ourselves. Winning a battle might be acknowledging our similarities with others, as fault finding goes out the window. Perhaps it’s in the conscious effort to not justify, to not defend, to not argue, and for a moment, the uproar subsides.
Everyone tries to get what they want, too often from others, instead of ourselves. Instead of wanting others to answer to us, we might answer to ourselves first. It doesn’t bring instant gratification, but it is real. Instant rewards like power, or an elated ego can be tempting to achieve, but more worthy is our values generating the same grit in an argument but expressed in the freedom of knowing oneself enough to build others up instead of tear them down.
We need a paradigm shift in ourselves, so that we can have one in public space. We want our communities friendly and neighborly, not hostile. There doesn’t have to be a battle everywhere we go, that is if we make friends, not enemies. It helps to not have bad opinion of everyone. We win battles in the mind of a matter. For instance, truly not being angry at a person for something they did, or did not do. This is not unrealistic, it’s a choice of perspective.
I am constantly a fool when I attempt to get what I want by being demanding and entitled. Recently, I was in a retail store and a manager was talking down to me for no reason. I escalated and wanted to get some respect and service, but this only made it worse. It always makes it worse when I try and make someone else listen, put them down, make them pay. We all know that we can love each other until blue in the face, and still find a way to hurt, insult, and misunderstand, let alone two strangers on a bad day. These are the battles that matter, and it’s what we do in them that changes where we live.
What’s the prize for all this fighting, we get to the stoplight twenty seconds earlier, we get to act like someone else is stupid instead of ourselves? Every argument at home, on the streets, at work, what do we really want, is it the age-old theory to love and be loved, ironic how much damage is done in the process of attaining love. If we can stand up for another person’s needs as well as our own, then we make progress.
An example of this is that my husband never lets me get away with talking to him in a harsh tone. If I try to justify it with something like, I’ve had to tell you a million times. He says, that is no excuse. He is right. I will not a win my battles by being mean. I’ll win,when he wins. He wins, when I win. This is fighting for each other, not against. My frustration doesn’t justify me being rude, or worse. We all have the capacity to give more to everyone we’re around.
We don’t need to beat someone out, beat them up, or kick them when they’re down. We have choices to not be led by our emotions, but by reason. Communicating in an articulate and healthy way seems to always do the trick around our house, even when it’s hard to put someone first after they’ve hurt or insulted us. Most of the time, we want to counterattack, but we know these types of offenses can be a foundation for war instead of peace.
When the public transitions out of negative attitudes, social shifts can take a big leap forward. It becomes a reality when each of us makes a choice to change. Considering that we all come from different backgrounds, and view what constitutes as a threat differently, our coping skills are challenged in public. Sometimes, we need to defend ourselves, be assertive, or even fight, but for the most part, we have options to change waring tactics into something more constructive.
We know there will always be conflict. Conflict manifest in every differing point of view, every frustration, every act against one another. This natural system, or even manifesto of interaction might not ever change in humanity, but the individual can be different even when the structures we walk through are not. We can choose to fight the battle that really counts; fight to be a tolerant and caring person, fight to feel better about others and ourselves.
We fight over disagreements because we want to have our own way. We go around with hurt feelings, and feel entitled, and everyone knows the right way to do everything. If we cure the battle inside ourselves, the struggle to get, to gain, to better, to expect, to accomplish, to take revenge, to prove a point, to control others, we have a chance at treating others well. It’s not someone else’s job to fulfill our needs. It is ours, despite what others do. We shape tomorrow with today. Let us each be the kind of person we intend, our ideal, and then go to bed as great warriors.
A lot of people believe you can’t get anywhere without being aggressive, or at least highly assertive, that you must get yours, that this is the only way- but it’s not. This is a lie we all believe at some time or another. I get what I want, maybe not quicker, but efficiently by being a decent human being. We don’t have to yell or throw our weight around to get what we want, even if we are on the phone for over two hours with a very incompetent service provider, per say.
Most of the time, we all have the wrong opinions of each other, allowing misunderstanding to rule even our closest interactions. My definition of adulting is being reasonable enough to navigate through mental and emotional dilemmas, so that we can be beneficial to those around us. If we expect respect from others, we must give it, no matter what, even in the face of conflict, how else will things change.
There are other ways to win a battle, such as entering conflict rationally, and finding successful solutions. We know what hurts people’s feelings. We know that yelling or being snide doesn’t have to be the first resort. We know that kids learn from adults. We know that no one understands a language better than kindness. We know that we don’t have to be angry to prove a point, that the word sorry is liberating, or how a mere smile can restore hope in humanity.
It feels more powerful to believe that I am wrong, mistaken about something, rather than keeping another person captive by my attacks. It is more rewarding to believe that you are right, and I am wrong, perhaps then I might learn something. I can believe that every individual has value in our society, and treat them accordingly.
What do our stories tell us? What does history tell us? What does our conscious tell us, and what do we tell ourselves? We deal with all the repercussions positive or negative, today from yesterday. We are always constructing our world in the moments we live. We create momentum and change in every decision. Our battle is there, in our convictions to seek out love, seek out peace, seek out mutual respect and understanding.
Every person who wants to have a peaceful household and community makes the choices to be a caring, decent human being. This does not hide the fact that we are all children, fighting for our own way. We are tenacious and fierce, always fighting to protect our values, our lives, our loved ones. It’s not a bad thing in itself, until the battles lack all humility, until perspective is lost, until we hurt and destroy the people and places we reside because we have become just as desensitized and angry as the next person. Let our homes and public spaces resonate with negotiations, diplomacy, love. Let us fix this. Let us do better.