Pat's View: Bel·lig·er·ence
By Patrick Robinson
Over the last 12 to 16 years I have watched with increasing alarm, the tendency of people, organizations, groups, couples, political parties and most recently leaders to react quickly, angrily, making snap judgements, saying inflammatory things, resorting to personal attacks and more. In short I have taken note of a major increase in Belligerence.
The word comes from the Latin Bellum Gerere meaning to “wage war.”
Wars, by their nature and through history are binary. One winner. One loser. And as they say, all is fair.
We have seen the breakdown of manners, of what we used to call “couth” meaning well mannered behavior.
That itself is a kind of outgrowth of basic biblical teaching. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
But what is behind this belligerence?
I think it’s in large part the distance and anonymity provided by the internet.
The ability to have misinformation be read widely, shared and spread widely has a poisoning effect on public discourse. Many people lack the critical judgement skills necessary to discern the difference between assertion, opinion, claim, and extrapolation from genuine empirical fact. Often because facts are not yet known. Which leads to speculation. Then the acceptance of that speculation in some quarters as fact.
Which then leads people to respond in a low emotional intelligence fashion.. in short tempers flare and people become belligerent.
It’s hard to let go of that feeling. Think of anyone who has offended you. Or any experience you had that made you mad.
As you hold that in your head, you relive it.. and those same feelings rise again.
But does it HAVE to? Carrying that anger around, doesn’t resolve it. It just sits in your memory like a hot coal. When you blow on it it gets white hot again.
I’m going to suggest you don’t do that. There’s really only one kind of “water” that represents a higher emotional intelligence and a way to quench those flames.
It too is ancient wisdom. It’s simple. It’s forgiveness. When you misspeak or overstep or misjudge or even if your intent was to hurt someone… Ask yourself, do you want to be hurt in return? If your “war”, the goal in your belligerence is to somehow “win” you want the other party to surrender, and just stop. But that seldom happens online, does it?
So, the next time you feel your anger rising and you are tempted to say something angry, and let your belligerence control you…do this instead. STOP… if it helps.. count to ten… and first forgive them and unless you are in a life or death struggle, just let it go.
The world will be much calmer place if you do.