My experience of the world has been that it pulls us in one of two directions: fight or flight. In higher functioning circles these terms might be renamed aggressive persuasion and compromise, but they come from the same semantic and psychological place. Either we fight for what we want, or we give it up and live to fight another day. I am not, and have never really been a fan of compromise… it has always felt like everyone losing in practice rather than the kind of middle ground for which it is usually advertised. Nor am I quick to go to war (although I have been quick to anger at times). You can probably tell just from the fact that it has taken me 3 posts of asking when to fight before finally getting to the fighting part.
So here we are at the fight. Our conscience is clear, we know what we want and we are not just having an emotional reaction. We have communicated what we want clearly and there is still no change coming on our behalf. What now? Now we just have one final question to answer for ourselves.
What are we willing to pay to get our way?
That is a very important question, because for every cause, right, wrong, or indifferent, their is a cost. When fights occur, everybody loses something. This may be why I somehow hold some tendencies toward negotiation over violence, but dislike compromise. Fighting is costly, and if we are to enter that endeavor, we will pay the price whether we want to or not. Violence does not take IOU’s.
Whether the matter is handled in court, taking up court costs and our time, or through violence, taking the blood of ourselves and perhaps our friends and family as well, the bill will come to us and we will pay. It is as Ghandi says:
And, depending upon the relationship we have, or did have, with those we are fighting, their demise may end up hurting us and our family as well.
The most celebrated political leaders of the last century have largely held non-violent views. The reason for that is that violence and war is costly, and there are often more efficient ways to get things done. It is only when these other options ends that there may be need for fighting. To enter the fight is to admit defeat in the creative endeavor to solve a problem. Our best and brightest did not have to do that often.
I think this is why Jesus did not teach his disciples how to fight. He taught them how to live, love, and to sacrifice their lives for something worthy. He taught:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43–48
So, if your loss of time, energy, money, health, and perhaps your life will do more good for the world and the things you hold dear, then by all means, fight on. But if you are expecting to enjoy the fruits of your labor (have your cake and eat it too), then you may want to keep thinking, keep dreaming, keep praying for another kind of resolution.