I recently got to thinking about the perception that fighting is equated to violence. What follows here is a train of thought coming from this.
On a few occasions in the past, I’d been taken to task for my verbiage. It’s damaging to be flippant with our word choices, I’d been reminded. This is true, absolutely. I know this, and I appreciate the reminder. At the same time, the expressions I’d used on those occasions… “to fight to the death.” “To slay.” … what do these sorts of expressions mean to me? To vanquish.
Fighting isn’t necessarily violent, but it’s always a struggle. The truth is that we’re always fighting.
We fight constantly in some way or sense, for something, or for someone… or maybe just for ourselves. Perhaps our fight involves grasping for meaning in our current state of being, or in our lives, in general. Even as we meditate in mindful serenity, we know that somewhere inside, we’re fighting our way through an existential crisis. In my opinion, this struggle is simply a part of the human condition.
I don’t know what you’re fighting for, but I know that you’re fighting for something, because you’re human, and you’re alive.
Being alive means that we’re in conflict. Poets and writers are keenly aware that there can be no story, no plot without a conflict. We’re writing for a human audience; being in conflict is an intrinsic fact of being human. Thus, we weave conflict into our stories in order to give them meaning.
We fight all sorts of things: boredom, sleep, traffic, fear, temptation. We fight not to laugh. We fight to keep our mouths shut. We fight back tears. We fight to breathe. We fight for our rights, and we fight cancer.
When we discipline ourselves, it’s a fight. For instance, we discipline ourselves to abide by moderation, or to get ourselves to the gym. Disciplining ourselves to go to the gym is sometimes a fight so tedious, we benefit from arranging to meet with a comrade for mutual encouragement and motivation. It’s helpful and advisable to fight in pairs… to have a partner, a back-up.
We fight with ourselves when trying to start something. We fight with ourselves when trying to quit something.
We fight for our freedom. We fight for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
We fight injustices. We fight for those who don’t have a voice, or for those whose voices have been silenced.
We have so many fights, we can’t engage in them all. We have to pick the ones worthy of our attention, time, and energy. This is our personal judgement to make, which is, in itself, a fight.
It’s easy to forget that it’s not our place to pick others’ battles for them, and it’s a mistake to judge others for the fights they choose.
But it’s hard, isn’t it? When we feel strongly about something, it’s hard to say nothing when we see others expressing their own, strong feelings… feelings that oppose ours. Then we have to fight to remain civil. This fight within ourselves can be brutal. It’s fight on top of fight, and it’s harder when we know that losing is as easy as winning.
This is unavoidable, and it’s a part of the reason why I seriously contemplated leaving Facebook. All the fighting going on before my eyes over there gets exhausting. It’s not like I’m not also engaged in various fights of my own. Not one amongst us goes around free of conflict.
When combat sports athletes get tired during a fight, they get breaks. A bell rings, they disengage, and they retreat to their corners, where their corner-people are waiting to hydrate them, tend to their wounds, and prop up their morale with forceful yet encouraging words and directives. There’s a referee to stop the fight when things get out of hand… when the fighter can still walk away. It would be great if a bell could ring on social media every once in a while so we can go to our corners and compose ourselves.
A little kindness can go a long way in creating our corners of respite.
Growing in the dark
We can also breathe a little easier at night knowing that we survived another day. This is a victory. A vanquishing.