Conflicting Impulses

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Not too long ago, I was working on a case where my client was being sued. Although technically in the wrong, the offense in question caused, at most, a negligible amount of damage. It looked bad, more than anything. But the plaintiff didn’t care–the relief they sought was ridiculously disproportionate compared to the harm, or lack thereof, actually caused.

This, of course, got my competitive juices flowing.

“So what do you think?” asked my boss.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” I said. “I want to fight it.”

“Think about a little more,” said my boss.

So I did. And he was right. But my first instinct was to fight it. That’s how it goes.

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Usually.

See, I have a conflicting impulse, which is to try to come to some sort of agreement.

It’s not that I’m conflict-averse per se. I just find it more pleasant to get what you want sans conflict.

That’s right! Despite what I have soberingly come to conclude is the only realistic way to beat back the darkness, I have a contradictory desire to make friends and build bridges.

Some might call this weak. Someone might call this unrealistic. I get that. But I can’t help it.

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When I see or hear someone write or say something that is grossly unfair, realistic, or just a post something that I think is true and right, I would much rather talk about it then start throwing punches, metaphorical or otherwise.

But when I do, I come to the equally sobering conclusion that it’s pointless. It bears repeating, even though I’ve been beating this drum for a while, that if somebody comes at you in bad faith, there is no point in engaging the debate.

Even though I want to. 

Maybe it’s selfish. There is an undeniable joy I get when I can turn what had been an enemy into a friend, or at least achieve some kind of truce. It feels nice. It feels like you’ve converted somebody to “our side,” that side being “civilization.”

But it happens so seldom. Mainly because it seems that people only want to agree with you if they already agree with you.

Every sphere of life, every hobby, every form of diversion that we use to elevate ourselves and escape from the nastiness of the world is now a battleground where this nastiness has seeped in. And it’s not going away any time soon.

If you don’t choose a side, a side chooses you.

And so the pugnacious us side of me comes out. This pugnacity seems to be dominating lately. It’s been forced only by circumstance, but I can’t shake that maybe I could be doing a little bit more to ease up.

But with a lot of the hatred and division going around, stuff that I had nothing to do with and didn’t start, to let your guard down can mean to get burned. Badly.

It’s a terrible state of affairs. I guess I can take solace in the knowledge that I didn’t start it.

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