My Aggression

August 9, 2010

A friend once asked me why I don’t yell when I’m angry.

The first thing I should point out is how extremely difficult it is to make me angry. I’m pretty emotionally stable; I have more patience than a lot of people and I let things roll off my back rather than let them get to me. So if you ever do see me angry, you’re in a very small club. But I digress…

I don’t yell when I’m angry because there’s no reason to. I yell when I need my voice to be louder, like when I’m talking to a group or to someone far away. Yelling when you’re mad just makes everything scary, which is unnecessary.

My dad once tried to motivate me to hit my brother back for hitting me.

I didn’t. I was far too upset over being hit and I didn’t like the idea of hurting someone out of revenge. Also, my brother used to be bigger than me.

I always thought I was incapable of aggressive behavior, that I was 100% restrained by fact that I never wanted to see anything come to harm. This thought manifested over the years and climaxed during a visit to a wrestling club.

At this wrestling club, there was a rubber bust of a large muscular meathead-looking guy, which was clearly there to practice wrestling moves on. His face was contorted into a threatening sneer, a face so vile you would want to put all your effort into making it feel pain. I went to go punch it, jokingly, and when my fist came close to making contact it stopped, suddenly. I didn’t try to hold back my punch because I knew consciously that the rubber man wasn’t real, but my instinct would not let me attack him.

I paused, and then later was gripped by a sudden fear: “Am I incapable of violence? Can I really not hit that stupid rubber guy? What if I get attacked someday and I’m not able to fight back? What if my family’s in danger and I just sit there?” This moment occupied my thoughts for several months, and I continued to wonder what would actually happen if I was called upon to physically defend someone.

In my second semester at UMass my fears were alleviated. I was at a Ludacris concert (yep) standing in a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, in between two groups of large muscular people. Drunk Bro #1 was talking to Drunk Ho #1 (behind me) about how Drunk Bro #2’s (in front of me) Red Sox hat looked like one that their friend ‘lost’. They kept talking about it, convincing themselves in their drunken stupor that this mass-produced hat that Bro#2 was wearing belonged to their friend. Bro#1 reached over me and swiped Bro#2’s hat off his head, saying nothing. Bro #2 turned around and gave a look that I can only compare to the one professional wrestlers give each other when they’re performing. He asked politely but sternly for his hat, to which Bro#1 replied “Hey man you don’t know who you’re messing with bro! Don’t fuck wit’ dis!” and to which Ho#1 replied “YEEEA.”

For the sake of you the reader I’ll skip the next minute or so where the two groups continue to call each other out and say threatening Jersey Shore-esque one-liners. My friends had already backed away, fearing the oncoming brawl. But for some reason, without thinking, I stepped directly in front of the two bros, put a hand on each of them, and told them to calm down, return the hat, and enjoy the concert. I didn’t try to hurt them, but in my gut I could feel that I was in attack mode, completely prepared to duck and charge if one of them took a swing at me. After some last second bro-ish grunts at each other they both stopped and returned to their groups. Crisis avoided!

And so I discovered that although I’m a pacifist normally, in times of danger I do rise to the occasion. It was a comforting realization, and I’m glad to know that even though violence isn’t the answer, it’s at least an option.

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2 Responses to “My Aggression”

  1. I can appreciate this a ton. I recall that moment…not specifically but since you retold the story I recalled it.

    Pacifism is a privilege. Not many can control their aggression and so very few can control their tongue, as described in the event at the concert. I can relate to the experience with your dad and brother. I was forced to fight, granted it was for “entertainment”, but I had to muster up a reason to dislike the person I was paired up against. This was especially difficult because at the time they were my friend. As I look back on all the moments I felt threatened, scared, or seeking a resolution through defensive (read: violent) measures, I remember one of my dad’s points of advice. “Always carry more rocks in your pocket than the other guy has brains.”

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