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Don't Feed the Animals

People love a fight, and so do the people that manage people. Infighting keeps us common folk busy while the Champagne Club find new ways to rig the game. Besides that, it's a waste of energy.

On a person-to-person level, fighting for fighting's sake gets nothing done but wearing us out, and in the end all we're doing is filling the bellies of emotional parasites that grew along with our developing egos.

Starve the bastards, say I.

No one actually “wins” an argument that relies on insults and curses. Far better to be humble and accept that no one knows everything than to lose friends and loved ones over “being right.” This is a lesson I’m still learning. It’s one of the Big Ones. When engaged in verbal battle, stand up for yourself, but never forget the other person is a human being with legitimate emotions and concerns, most of which may be yet unknown to you.

You can catch your hackles rising and keep them down. You can slow the rush to out-shout or out-wit or out-hurt the person on the other end of the argument. You can, with Herculean effort, move beyond the primal need to react, to win, to destroy the other. You can walk away.

If you stick it out without resorting to cheap tricks, there may come a moment in the midst of a word-war where your eyes meet those of your “opponent,” and the mask of rage drops for a split second. There’s opportunity there. If you detect a smile when you expect a smirk, reflect it. Let it become a laugh if it’s happening. Those are the moments when perception has dropped from the head-view to the heart-view. This is exactly what you want and need to work toward peace rather than toward violence.

From the head-view reality is often a set of circumstances that don’t match desires. We get beat down by this. It’s frustrating and painful, and we’re jealous of each other. It’s this pain, this sense of unfairness that kicks behavior into feral, hurtful, even sinister territories. The heart-view knows this. It sees the tragedy we share, the futility of fighting it, and thus the dark comedy of our situation. It may put a smile on your face at inappropriate times. It's not a smile of amusement exactly, more like one of understanding.

How much dwindling time and energy do we waste trying to squash the Universe into our idea of its ideal form? How much more do we waste hurting each other without solving the problems that cause the suffering? Were we to take the energy we waste on fighting, we could put that energy to better use, together, and improve our station. That’s one of the cosmic jokes.

We tend to pick up anxiety and the reactionary behavior that we use as a shield against it when we are quite young. We’re still forming our personalities and it’s usually a response to trauma, so it runs deep and can take a long time to deprogram. The slow going can be frustrating, but if you own your reactions, you’ll stay honest. I am not pitching ease here, but I am pitching freedom. By increasing observation and decreasing mindless cooperation you can learn how your inner demons operate and how they take you over.

Emotions are often looked at as choices, but like thoughts, they’re more like electro-chemical events. They may be aided by habit but they aren’t quite our fault. Our reactions do fall within our responsibility, and it is our reactions that create our reality. It’s tempting to believe we’re just victims of fate when things are tough, but it’s dis-empowering and only keeps things worse than they need to be. Everyone is going through this. Be merciful.

Think back on some of the “bad days” you’ve had. How much of that drama was preventable? Was it really just a rain of bad luck or can you trace the dominoes back to choices made in a flash of anger or the exhaustion of despair? Think now on a “good day,” and try to run the tape backward. Did the good luck flow from better choices made by a calmer head? Chances are that you’ll see these patterns.

You can catch the parasites in the act when they use your mental energy to suit their aims, and in time you can send them packing before they get warmed up enough to play puppet show with you. You never sold your soul, and they don’t own you. If they claim a contract, tear it up and walk out of the Ring of Fire into a path you forge by your own will. Try not to throw coals at people. Most don’t deserve it, and the ones who can will just duck. Either way you’ve still burnt your hands. Like a lot of things that appeal to ego in the moment, it’s not a winning move.

There's an old saying: "Measure twice, cut once." This prevents extra work and extra damage. We do well to know each side of the story whenever we can get it. Regarding argument and all human relationship, perhaps the saying should be, "Measure twice, then don't cut at all."