The Cornered Cat
Temperature Control

M: I used to be afraid, until I got sick and tired of it. Then I got pissed.

KJ: Oh, pissed is just another version of powerless. Flip side of fear.

M: Defenestration says different.

KJ: No, it doesn’t. You can throw the guy out the window, but you haven’t won if he’s still in your head.

M: Uhhh out of sight out of mind?

KJ: Well, when he hits the pavement head first, he can exclaim, “Nothing like this ever entered my mind before!”   But — still. If he’s still in your head, it doesn’t matter if he’s still breathing or not. He still has power that you don’t have.

There are self-defense instructors who tell people to get angry when it’s time to defend yourself. I sympathize and fully understand what these folks are trying to do. More than that, I think it is right to get angry sometimes. When someone behaves offensively toward you, be offended! Own your personal space. Own your body. Own your personal dignity and your freedom. All that. If you need to feel a white-hot, burning anger to work up toward defending yourself, go ahead and feel it. It’s your life, and your body, and your family who will mourn your death. Own that! Be angry that someone would dare to try to take that away from you!

And yet… in a lot of ways, burning anger isn’t as useful or as reliable as cold mathematics: “This person is trying to kill me. I will try to kill them right back, because I do not intend to die today.” That’s a valid response, too, and can be just as powerful. Or more. Better still, it does not give your assailant free rental space inside your own head. With good tools, good training, and confidence based in reality, you can do what you need to do without turning on the heat.

People working from a strong position don’t need to get angry. They might choose to go hot, to get angry, to use that anger as a tool — but they might just as well choose to go cold, to stay frosty, to put a touch of ice into their responses. And that’s good, too.

Stay safe.

One Response to Temperature Control

  1. larryarnold says:

    I keep remembering my Heinlein: “Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate — and quickly.”

    I grew up an Army brat. Back in the 1950s we accompanied my LTC father to Germany for three years. While we were there I noticed he always treated current and former German soldiers with respect. He explained that as far as he was concerned the vast majority of them had fought for their country, just as he had. Now the war was over, and hating or belittling them would make it harder to be allies.

    This from a man with a bayonet scar on his shoulder.

    Later on I learned about the places in the world where conflicts have been going on for hundreds, and sometimes thousands of years, and hatred will most likely prevent any resolution until one side is eliminated.

    On a micro level many self-defense instructors seem stuck in the idea that it’s all about preventing criminal attack. That’s certainly one scenario.

    On the other hand, there are lots of stories of neighbors, friends, coworkers, and families that get crosswise with each other. There are also routine day-to-day encounters with strangers, on the order of getting caught in a fenderbender, which have the potential to escalate until deadly force is necessary.

    Knowing how to work through those conflicts without hatred or prejudice can go a long way toward keeping you out of situations where there will be no winners.

    More Heinlein: “A brute kills for pleasure. A fool kills from hate.”

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