Of passifism and the lack thereof

Growing up mostly blind, I spent way too many moments in my childhood getting beat up and wondering why I didn't fight back. I am still not certain, but I have a few ideas.

At the time, I remember very clearly that I was rationalizing that I was being a social benefit to my attackers; I could often feel their anxiety and their need to manifest their anger in some way which would make them feel better. The story I would tell myself is that I was providing a public service for them. But I think what was really happening was that I was just too frightened that if I fought back, I would get hurt worse. Also, I was very empathic and could actually feel the benefits I was providing for them. I'll bet a lot of women can relate to that.

So as I grew up, it was perfectly natural to fall into hippie ideals of peace and love and nonviolence and passifism. All was fine with me; it was simply the world which was filled with too many angry men who didn't understand that all they needed to do was manage their anger better. I learned to manage my own anger in my early 20's. I took long walks, I sang. Sometimes I would simply sit in the corner at a friend's house for long hours and sulk. At least I was not harming anyone but myself. To me, that was a plus. After many years, the anger died down and now the walks and dancing and singing are pleanty enough to fix just about anything. I am much happier for it, too.

Lately I have been laboring with an increasingly urgent desire to bond with a partner and keep her and take care of her for the rest of my life. I have always been in love with the feeling of being in love, but perhaps I am simply now becoming so old that part of me thinks if I don't do something about it soon, I may never get the chance again to be a young lover (and therefore, to have a young lover).

So I am going to marry a girl I so far hardly know, but that is another story.

This has gotten me thinking about lots of things I had never thought of before and one of them is violent conflict. Is everyone still with me? No? Let me explain.

You see, when you love someone so much that you want to take care of them no matter what happens, then you must also realize that as long as you live in a universe in which there is even one other person who feels that they can take what they want by force, it is irresponsible not to recognize the need to protect the person(s) you love, by force if necessary.

There is - as far as I can determine - only one good reason for violent conflict. That is to protect the lives of those you love. Nothing is more important.

Therefore, it behooves us to begin to examine the whole concept of violent behavior and feelings. I am not suggesting that we should all go out and become Rambo-esq street fighters, only that it is irresponsible to ignore this entire aspect of human experience if we are to be honest with ourselves and yet live and love in this world.

So I began where I always begin- Inside myself. I have found a part of me which does have feelings about conquering, about competing with other men, about responding to threats with threats and action, and yes- even feelings about dominating a women sexually. Of course, there is a right place for all of these feelings. Even that last one has a place within the context of a loving relationship in which partners communicate fully and are happy to experiment with such things safely and responsibly and respectfully.

A few years ago I had a wonderful time at dance camp. A bunch of guys got together and created an ad hoc game of "King of the Dock". This is a game in which a very unstable floating dock on the pond is populated by two men who wressle until it is populated by only 1. I found through experimentation (to my delight) that -since the water contains enough algea to make us too slippery to hold onto, the game is one not of strength and will, but of balance and concentration. I actually won. But more importantly, everyone had a good time and we were all confident enough so that our competition was held in the context of confident beings honoring and respecting one another. I felt quite blessed to be a member of such a group. It used to be common for people to compete this way; with honor and respect for one another. But I fear as times are more difficult, the concept of honor among combatants has fallen from our culture.

But even without honorable competition, there is still that nagging question of protecting those I love from random violence. I still do not feel comfortable using a gun, however, since the police are becoming increasingly untrustworthy in this country, I do begin to feel strongly that I would prefer that all of my neighbors are armed with guns. Clearly this, by itself, isn't an answer either, but I'm still working on it.

This topic is still gelling within me. I'll write more about it another time.

Back to my main web page.