Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Speak Softly

For me, anger is an artifact of youth. I was a spirit of fire. As well as being enthusiastic and zealous in love and friendship, I was quick to wrath and slow to cool. In fire, I saw kinship. I am not sure, but I think this was because I encountered so many other spirits of fire in school, in my neighborhood and in my own family. Of course my thirsty young mind drank deeply of their knowledge, ideas and opinions, absorbing their poisons like a plant growing in polluted water, and so I practiced what I learned.

One of the lessons I've learned with advanced age and from the influence of my good friends is to speak softly. Anger still occurs to me as a potential method of handling grievances and disputes, but I feel it is counter-productive, not necessarily to those I'm angry at, but to myself. My heart hates anger and loves to love. I like to love and hate to hate. I don't like getting angry and don't feel that there is much in the world worth getting angry about. Perhaps it is worth getting angry about something that threatens the well-being of a loved one, but such occasions are few. Most disputes I like to handle with a soft touch nowadays. I think of this as getting in touch with the deeper self, the true self, my full potential.

I find that understanding and empathy, which I am lucky to be endowed with, score points with people and gain me more in friends and allies than would anger. I have powers of negotiation that continue to astonish me in their achieved results. Speaking softly with kindness and understanding in one's eyes can influence others and can even change hearts and minds. Anger, by comparison, is a crude instrument, useful only for a limited set of circumstances.

Now the men I knew back in the day scorned empathy and understanding and thought such things were feminine and weak. They thought anger was being a man and could not divorce the idea of manliness from violence, vengeance and wrath. A man must avenge every slight to protect his honor. What a weak notion this honor is, then, if it is so fragile. I think now that those men were weak, because they were not willing to try alternative, effective strategies at getting what they want. They were close-minded, petty, and stupid like animals. Anger got them trouble, that is what anger got them. Some slights are not slights, others can be ignored, and still others can be handled with subtlety, in an indirect fashion.

So now I am no more a spirit of fire but one of air, and I aim to be as light as air.

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