June 8, 2009

When to step in; When to back down…

There is only so much you can do.

I think as a species we tend to overstay or overcommit our need to fix things, situations, and people. We go beyond what is necessary to make situations easier for ourselves, at the detriment of the personal growth of the people around us.

Last night there was another follow up on the Parktown Boys High School mother who has taken senior students to jail over her sons initiation, in which he got beaten until he couldn’t sit because he got jacked quite severely.

I am going to upset people with this, but I think the mother did the right thing by going to the headmaster. No kid should be jacked until he can’t sit. I got jacked at primary school that I had to sit to the side for a few hours, but never that I couldn’t sit. Punish the seniors who were involved yes. But take them to court, drag it out for 3 months and stand beyond the line of duty for your child… no. I feel she was wrong to drag it past the line where her kid had the chance to stand up for himself. We haven’t seen the kid once in all the material I have seen. He probably feels his mother should have let it go after the initial reporting and punishment. But I could be wrong.

Kids should be taught to stand up for themselves, even if it’s just morally. To know what’s wrong and stand up for it is a huge lesson in life. It might make you unpopular for a while, but it will earn you respect from your peer group as well. Learning when to step down from confrontation, purely for the value of a fight, is another skill many need to learn. This applies in school, in relationships, in work, etc.

Often, as parents, lovers or as friends (and some people just are like this in general) we will stand up and fight the fight for someone else, who we might feel doesn’t have the authority to take on this fight. To make a point for someone else is fine, and respected, but to make it a personal vendetta against someone who didn’t do anything wrong to you, is beyond your call or duty. So how do we go about identifying the point where the fight is ours, or when it’s not ours to have. A couple of questions you will need to ask yourself:

1. Does this fight personally affect my life in any way? This does not include making your friend or loved one feel “sad”. Does not having the fight mean you will be hugely affected in your personal capacity to live your life out, or not?
2. Could the person I am standing up for handle this themselves? If yes, vamoose you over protective idiot! Let people fight their own fights, otherwise they will never personally develop into the people you want them to be.
3. Could you be doing something more constructive in this time? If you could, step away.

Now don’t get me wrong, because I am quite passionate about dealing with problems as they arise. But learn to identify a real problem over a situation which will wither and die without much more energy. A real problem will keep growing without your energy input, whereas a situation will die without it.

So this week, don’t expend any energy into situations. Flesh out the energy you have and project it organically into the 5 people closest to you, because as some say “you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with” and therefore, you want to give them as much love as possible.

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