I always thought that the phrase “fight fair” was kind of stupid actually. Instantly I think of the ridiculous pre-colonial “gentlemen’s war” rules of etiquette that dictated soldiers stand in rows and take turns firing. As if anything could be more obtuse than standing before one another just waiting for a shot to come. I much preferred Bruce Lee’s perspective, “Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.” The only problem with that mentality is – it works, and when it works, you can’t exactly take anything back.
I don’t fight often, but when I do I wouldn’t say I nobly wait for a comment to come cutting my way. I have a long memory and my wit compromises my words in magnetic negativity. As Lev Grossman once wrote, “In a way, fighting was just like using magic. You said the words, and they altered the universe. By merely speaking you could create damage and pain, cause tears to fall, drive people away, make yourself feel better, make your life worse.” And at the end of it all … whatever it is I’m fighting for or about, let’s be honest – it is rarely for a noble cause.
As painful as it is to admit, most of my arguments are without true merit or intention. They are the aftermath of a crummy day, resulting in a radioactive bad mood that permeates everything within the vicinity of me. My husband and I were recently discussing this, and though we are rarely upset with one another, we do tend to give one another the brunt of our “left-over” day. I am sorry for this, and yet it is a reactive pattern that forms whenever something disgruntles to the point of “letting it out,” by “taking it out” on whoever is nearest – and he always is.
Peter Wentz said, “The silence is the worst part of any fight, because it’s made up of all the things we wish we could say, if only we had the guts.” Well, unfortunately, I have to disagree … because I think in these pointed comments I say too much. I remember too much. I call forth memories like armor and use them to dispel any logical repartee that might be sound.
This week, our pastor spoke about the power of forgiveness, and reminded us that it is not only our words that argue, but our actions. A roll of the eyes. Shunning a hug. Vacant responses. And I was convicted at just how unfair I fought after all. Like I said before, I’m not much into arguing. I’m not a pot-stirrer; I don’t enjoy battles, and yet even in the here and there, infrequent times, I succumb. And in those moments my words are effectively lethal in killing a mood, or ruining an intention.
There are things to call forth justice to, but my petty disagreements are not one of them, and I need to find a way to settle myself into a pattern of silence when confronted with my own disagreeable mood. Just like having an umbrella over my head won’t protect me from sideways rain … fights aren’t ever fair, not really, no matter what key phrases or memories I cover myself in. So from now on, though I’ll be imperfect at it I’m sure, I will try to at least think a little more about what is really worth fighting for, and trying my humanly best to forgive the rest. I guess it’s time to turn the battle inward, and follow the thoughts of Stephanie Lennox, “I’ve been fighting to be who I am all my life. What’s the point of being who I am, if I can’t have the person who was worth all the fighting for?”
Don’t fight fair, fight for something.