Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Divided Nature

There are times when I feel a strong urge to tie matchsticks in my beard and hoist the black flag. Does that seem out of place in these pages? Is it a surprise? That has been my entire point this week. None of us is just one thing, and we all have different facets that we show under different circumstances. Most of us do not know nearly as much about our neighbors as we think we do.

I was recently mocked because my writings on being kind and tolerant were seen as weak. People who are trying to kill you don’t care about kindness and tolerance, and all of the usual insults that frightened people hurl about to mask their fear, to pretend that they are the tough ones, and to puff up like a … oh yeah, like a frightened toad. You see, people like this tend to forget that puffing and strutting are fear responses. They don’t show how strong you are. They are an attempt to trick a predator into thinking you’re strong because you’re afraid it may eat you otherwise. I stopped being afraid many years ago, and I do not need to strut or puff in order to demonstrate that my claws and fangs are still in full working order. When they’re needed, I assure you, they’ll do their job.

I am fully aware of the fact that people who are trying to kill me will not be swayed by kindness and tolerance. I can promise you that people who try to kill me will not be experiencing much kindness and tolerance at the time either. I just don’t see much point in discussing that part for weeks on end, because that’s the easy part. When it’s time to fight, you fight, and you fight to win. If you need instruction in that area, you take a self defense class or learn to shoot or something of that nature. Here, we are learning about what to do the rest of the time, and we are focused on that because the rest of the time also happens to be most of the time. Most people know what to do about people who are trying to inflict violence. That is usually self-evident. It’s all of the other types of people who can be confusing, especially because there are so many of them. Some of them are close to the violent type but aren’t the violent type. What do you do with them? Do you push them over the edge and increase the number of people you’re fighting against? That seems remarkably silly and counterproductive. How about, instead, we find ways to pull them back from that edge and increase the number of people fighting with us as opposed to against us? That sounds so much more useful, doesn’t it?

I know all about fighting. It’s my natural state. I get out of bed ready to fight, and then I put on the clothes and coat of peace and tamp down the natural urges. Try to imagine, if you can, a Buddhist Viking, a Celtic warrior who has traveled the world and picked up some new tricks, or the Incredible Hulk who has learned to leash the beast and use it for his own purposes. If you can picture those ideas, you can come closer to picturing who I am. It is important to remember, though, which form comes first. I am not a pacifist who has learned to fight. I am the soldier who understands better than most the value of peace.

It is foolish to create enemies where they do not already exist.. It is reckless to increase your enemy’s numbers for them because it seemed easier now to push people away than to understand how to bring them in. It will not be easier tomorrow when you have les allies than you could have had and more enemies than you should have had. Remember, when it’s you against the world, that it was you who decided to be against the world. Making enemies is easy, making friends is hard, but which is more valuable should be the most obvious thing in the world. Too many people, though, focus on what’s easy rather than what’s valuable.

If I don’t tell you that being kind to that person who looks different than you can increase your number of friends and decrease your number of enemies, it is not because that thought has not occurred to me. It is within my nature that such thoughts always occur to me. I don’t always mention them because they are not always the point. That is an issue we struggle with here in the modern climate. There is a point that I am trying to make with these writings, but that doesn’t mean that there are not other points to make, or that I do not know and value those other points. They are just not the subject of our current discussions.

Not addressing those other points, however, can sometimes cause confusion and interfere with the points we are trying to make. Then it comes time to try to explain things I am not in the habit of explaining, so I can only present a picture and hope for understanding. There are times to fight and, when it’s time, you fight to win. I know that in my bones. I don’t talk about it much because that part’s easy. It is what you do between those times that is difficult and requires thought and consideration. The hard times are what I am trying to learn, and what I wish to discuss.

It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war, and no one knows better than the soldier the value of peace. My divided nature is one that hears warhorns in my sleep but dreams of peace. I am always ready to fight, but I had to learn to be ready to not fight. In the end, it’s less a divided nature than a practical whole. I want a better world, and there’s nothing easy about that. When it’s time to fight, you can bet I’ll be on the front line, but I’m also dedicated to putting in the time and effort necessary when it’s not time to fight. That’s the hard way, but it’s the way that leads to better, more long lasting results.

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