When we are children our parents told us not to play with Fire or Guns or Cars. They did this because we weren’t ready to face the consequences of misusing them. We had to be taught to use them in the proper ways and at the proper times.
Our society has done this with Love, Violence, Anger, Suicide, Sex and lots of other things. It has put them in a box and said: “Don’t do this.” Or “ONLY do this in X way.”
Guess what. You are going to grow up today. Today you are going to begin to change your perspective and learn how to drive a violence, how to shoot a love and how to light a suicide.
Peace wasn’t going to win the day in 1943. German people, angry at the abuses of the Treaty of Versailles and the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic had allowed a populist leader to take over the government and begin a second World War. America was gearing up for another fight. Violence in this case WAS an answer.
Standing up to a bully is quite often necessary. Additionally, sometimes people will use passive aggressive, legal, authoritative or other power to abuse others. There is a quote which holds truth. When peaceful protest becomes impossible, violent protest becomes inevitable. Sometimes violence IS the answer, just be careful. It can easily escalate. Avoid it, recognize the consequences you face, own the situation and act. You WILL face consequences, but if you were wise they are consequences you are willing to face because the violence was the proper action at the proper time.
Modern cliché is that love always wins. Guess what. That’s not true. Love is a wonderful and powerful emotion. It is an opportunity to open-up and invites others with you to do so as well. However REAL love requires authentic awareness of where others are. It is powerful and useful to help elevate consciousness and bring cohesion when used at the right time, however there are a LOT of times when the other person is either not ready or willing so reach openness or love with you. Openness is dangerous. It’s not as dangerous as our fears think it is, but it IS dangerous. We have to use discernment about when to bare our throat to our enemy. When to show trust, when to be the first to offer peace.
Groups are some of the most dangerous here. It is easy to discern when you can open-up to a person, but when dealing with a group you have to recognize who can and can’t be trusted and how they will respond to your openness. You have to carefully navigate relationships, opening up to people who are ready and maintaining a strong position with people who aren’t in such a way that you don’t lose the ground you gained with one person or risk danger from the other. This is why high level negotiations take so long. Everyone is carefully measuring who and when they can be open with and standing strong with the people they can’t.
Anger is an emotion which tells us that we are in a situation which is unhealthy for us. The problem with anger is that we often don’t know whether the situation is unhealthy fundamentally or because of our beliefs/assumptions.
Anger arouses us to speak and act. It brings out a willingness to express personal power. In the right times and right ways, it is an incredibly healthy thing, but in the wrong times or ways it can make a situation worse. Think of anger like fire. When we control and harness it we can use it to do incredible things, but when we just let it loose… Well, we can lose everything.
Anger is especially important to understand now. A lot of well-meaning people try to tell others NOT to be angry. They tell people to find other ways. This is like telling someone to live a life without fire. We need to stop doing this! Anger is an important and necessary tool, but we need to help people use it in healthy ways. When we see someone angry, we need to listen, we need to help the angry person find out whether or not they are seeing a situation effectively and we need to help them figure out how they can do the most good to change the situation with the least destruction. With practice, anger changes from a dangerous emotion to a wonderful and powerful one.
In 1963 a dictator named Diem ruled Vietnam and was persecuting Buddhists. Peaceful protest was getting nothing done, and all of the power for violence was in the hands of the dictator. Eastern culture has a history of dealing with these situations and they have a tool to loudly cry for change that our society is horrified by.
A monk by the name of Thich Quang Duc doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in the middle of a busy Saigon intersection. Photographs of the incident spread around the world and touched people enough to pressure for change. In November that year the military revolted and lead a coup to overthrow the dictator.
Now… before you get all martyr-minded, governments have learned from this situation. In certain areas where self-immolation is a danger, police are trained to have fire-extinguishers and to work to keep the protestor alive. They have literally learned to overcome the power of the self-sacrifice by sacrificing to prevent the person from becoming a martyr. I’ve watched a video of a monk who tried to protest, but the people in the area put the fire out and he was taken to a hospital. Instead of being a powerful statement of protested it ended up being an example of a moron who couldn’t even successfully kill himself.
My point here is simple. Emotions, actions, resources, words… they are all tools. They are tools we can use to live the life we want and effect the world in the ways we want to. NOTHING is off limits to an adult mind. If you ever catch yourself thinking “X is wrong.” Challenge yourself to explore when and how it can become a tool for you. Society is ALWAYS vulnerable to someone who does the unexpected.