My son and I have an ongoing argument about how to deal with jerks. I try and sway him from violence, although I fully recognize that it is the most seductive option. I daydream hourly about punching people in the face because they wait too long to go after the light has turned green, what are they waiting for? His cartoons are filled with vengeance and retribution, and everything seems to work out for the little piglets or aliens or whatever, and that’s enough philosophical evidence for him.
When I deliver the usual insipid parent-speak in the face of kindergarten interpersonal conflict it sounds flat and unrealistic in my ears, and like the static of a fading radio station in his.
“Just ignore it.”
“Lie down flat with your face in the dirt, averting your eyes and humming quietly until the moment passes.”
My son’s issue is that removing himself from the situation is not the best solution because the offender is not punished, in fact is not hurt in any way. It’s unsatisfying and unfair, where’s the blood? The pain? The lesson brutally administered by punching hands and kicking feet, as God intended? Why do nunchucks exist if not for that exact purpose?
As adults we know intellectually that even when we look longingly at the sharp knives on the kitchen counter or know that the trunk of our car could easily hold a few bodies we have to resist those urges, if only so we don’t end up on America’s Most Wanted. The best we can hope for is some resolution in the form of heated argument or an abrupt ending of the contentious relationship, and in both cases we need to let go of the need for sweet, delicious revenge, even though it is so sweet. And delicious. As anti-climatic as it may feel, turning around and heading for the door is not only sane, it’s healthy, and like many healthy choices can leave you hungry for a sleeve of Oreos.
Maybe it’s because pulling back from a situation or a person or a life is the deadly blow we dream of inflicting. Indeed, the loss of you is the harshest punishment that exists, but only if you believe that your wonderful unique awesomeness is so wonderful, unique and awesome that your exit leaves only devastation in it’s wake. The problem is that so many of us don’t really recognize or believe in the power of our being, and don’t value ourselves enough to know that the truest way to rain catastrophe onto some jerk’s life is to remove ourselves from it.
The irony of course is that once we do tap into our magnificence and the self-love it manifests booting toxicity and abuse in all it’s forms out the window won’t be motivated by anger but a deep sense of honor for the quality of life we know we deserve. The heat behind it will dissipate and we won’t care about making sure someone feels our wrath. We’ll be too busy basking in the sunny warmth of gratitude and joy, with pockets unfettered by bulky nunchucks and loose, crumbly Oreos.