Posted by: JennyRain | October 12, 2009

Can’t we all just get along?

 Johns Book shelf

This is John’s bookshelf.

John loves him some books, he does! I used to joke with him that it was not “scriptural” to have so many books. Seriously, look at what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes “…excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.”

I must admit, however, that I have found myself lost in his bookshelf many times! Yesterday I found one of his classroom books called The Roots of Evil. This book examines the cultural, psychological, and sociological factors that are contributing factors to genocide and group violence.  I landed in a chapter discussing the influence of culture on individual agressiveness and was fascinated by this statement:

“While aggression is an outcome of cultural characteristics and life conditions, aggressiveness can become a habitual way of behaving and even a [life] value. Some people see challenge and provocation everywhere and try to fill their goals by agression.” (1)

Wow! Finally an explanation for road rage in the DC area!

I chewed on this statement about aggression yesterday because the author claims that if we encourage our tendencies towards aggression and anger, those tendencies will increase.

Aggression is habitual.

If this is true, then why do psychologists often encourage repeated expression of “repressed anger” in their patients? Would this not make the aggression worse? What does this mean for families, neighborhoods, countries where aggression is the norm? What does this mean for individuals who have a history of aggression?

If aggression becomes a part of our “muscle-memory,” the very fibre of our beings, it seems then that there is little hope of changing the pattern.

A friend of mine asked me about a year ago, “Is life always a battle?”

It caused me to pause because I realized I had lived for a long time feeling like life was something to be conquered and communication was something combative rather than edifying. More often than not there was a war going on in my head with something or someone.

After thirty-six years of battling with life, others, God, and myself, I began to realize how habitual this pattern had become and how little permission I was giving myself to live life in peace rather than at war. My friend’s question gave me permission to step out of the battle for awhile and take a look at what truly was worth fighting for, and what was just a defense mechanism.

I wonder how many people live their lives feeling as if aggression and war are their only options? I wonder how many people feel that their lives require that everything and everyone around is the enemy?

What could our lives look like if we layed down the attack-sword and shield-of-defense and chose to die only on those hills that have significance to our survival or make an eternal impact.

I mean, is cutting someone off in traffic so that you can get to work three minutes earlier really going to make that much of an impact in the long run? 

What if we as countries chose books over bombs, generosity instead of grenades, and acceptance rather than attack?

If we could lay our aggression down and choose not to pick it back up, would we really be losing anything?

And the battle’s just begun
There’s many lost, but tell me who has won?
The trenches dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart (Sunday bloody Sunday, U2)

 

 

 

(1) Slavson, S.R. (1965). Reclaiming the delinquent. New York: Free Press; Toch, H. (1969). Violent men. Chicago: Aldine; Buss, A.H. (1971) Aggression Pays. In J.L. Singer (Ed.), The control of aggression and violence. New York: Academic Press.

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