In association with hhdlstudycirclemontreal.org

Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.
InnerNet Weekly: Inspirations from ServiceSpace.org
Ambiguity Of Violence
by Robert Sapolsky

[Listen to Audio!]

2407.jpgIt is the ambiguity of violence, that we can pull a trigger as an act of hideous aggression or of self-sacrificing love, that is so challenging. As a result, violence will always be a part of the human experience that is profoundly hard to understand. The biologies of strong love and strong hate are similar in many ways, which is we don’t actually hate aggression — we hate the wrong kind of aggression but love it in the right context.

My wife and I were in the minivan once, our kids in the back, my wife driving. And this completely reckless driver cuts us off, almost causing an accident, and in a way that makes it clear that it wasn’t distractedness on his part, just sheer selfishness.

My wife honks at him, and he flips us off. We’re livid, incensed. *****-where’s-the-cops-when-you-need-them, etc.

And suddenly my wife announces that we’re going to follow him, make him a little nervous. I’m still furious, but this doesn’t strike me as the most prudent thing in the world. Nonetheless, my wife starts trailing him, right on his rear.

After a few minutes the guy’s driving evasively, but my wife’s on him. Finally both cars stop at a red light, one that we know is a long one. Another car is stopped in front of the villain. He’s not going anywhere.

Suddenly my wife grabs something from the front seat divider, opens her door, and says, “Now he’s going to be sorry.”

I rouse myself feebly—“Uh, honey, do you really think this is such a goo—” But she’s out of the car, starts pounding on his window.

I hurry over just in time to hear my wife say, “If you could do something that mean to another person, you probably need this,” in a venomous voice. She then flings something in the window. She returns to the car triumphant, just glorious.

"What did you throw in there!?" She’s not talking yet. The light turns green, there’s no one behind us, and we just sit there.

The thug’s car starts to blink a very sensible turn indicator, makes a slow turn, and heads down a side street into the dark at, like, five miles an hour.

If it’s possible for a car to look ashamed, this car was doing it.

“Honey, what did you throw in there, tell me?”

She allows herself a small, malicious grin. “A grape lollipop.”

I was awed by her savage passive-aggressiveness —“You’re such a mean, awful human that something must have gone really wrong in your childhood, and maybe this lollipop will help correct that just a little.”

About the Author: Robert Sapolsky is a world-renowned neuroscientist, who has spent decades studying violence. This story is from the opening of his best-selling book ‘Behave‘.

Share the Wisdom:
Email Twitter FaceBook
Latest Community Insights New!
Ambiguity Of Violence
How do you relate to the notion that the context of aggression matters? Can you share an experience that involved the ‘right’ kind of aggression? What helps you tinge even your aggressive moments with love?
Jagdish P Dave wrote: I tend to agree with the author Robert Sapolskythat aggression will always be a part of human experience. Love also will be a part of the human experience since the biologies of strong love and strong…
David Doane wrote: Aggression means hostile, violent, attacking. For me, the context of aggression doesn’t matter. Aggression meaning hostile or violent is always unnecessary and probably harmful. I don’t have a…
Liz Helgesen wrote: With Love Not Aggression

This piece made me feel very uncomfortable. I am uncertain the wife’s actions were wise, and seemed not non-violent to me. Especially that children were in the car watchi…

Share/Read Your Reflections
Awakin Circles:
Many years ago, a couple friends got together to sit in silence for an hour, and share personal aha-moments. That birthed this newsletter, and rippled out as Awakin Circles in 80+ living rooms around the globe. To join in Santa Clara this week, RSVP online.

RSVP For Wednesday

Some Good News

• The World’s Last Nomadic Peoples
• Wish You Were Here: Postcards from the Future
• Poetry Calls Us To Pause

Video of the Week

• The Buy Nothing Project Gift Economies

Kindness Stories

Global call with !
Join us for a conference call this Saturday, with a global group of ServiceSpace friends and our insightful guest speaker. Join the Forest Call >>

About
Back in 1997, one person started sending this simple “meditation reminder” to a few friends. Soon after, “Wednesdays” started, ServiceSpace blossomed, and the humble experiments of service took a life of its own. If you’d like to start an Awakin gathering in your area, we’d be happy to help you get started.

Forward to a Friend

Awakin Weekly delivers weekly inspiration to its 93,804 subscribers. We never spam or host any advertising. And you can unsubscribe anytime, within seconds.

On our website, you can view 17+ year archive of these readings. For broader context, visit our umbrella organization: ServiceSpace.org.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: