As we approach Christmas, which celebrates of the birth of the Prince of Peace, I am visiting family deep in the mountains of Colorado with only intermittent access to the web. I appreciate that this “season of peace” is a time of great tension for many (witness the shopping malls), but I also like to think that it is a time when many people do take time to reflect on the meaning of “peace”, within themselves and their community, and to exhibit generosity and kindness to others.
While discussing the nature and meaning of “peace” with my family, my sister-in-law (a former human resources specialist, very wise, and an excellent reader of people), drops this insight: “Aggression is in our nature: all people have a well of aggression that exhibits itself in different ways”.
Those that recognize it within themselves can learn to channel it in constructive ways, such as sports, martial arts, or business pursuits. Others expend it in destructive ways, such as gossip, politicking, undermining of others or open violence. The people who are most dangerous and the most vicious, to me, are those that don’t recognize it in themselves, because then the aggression is left to exhibit itself in uncontrolled manners. It is one reason that I have never trusted “pacifists”: they don’t know themselves and the evil of which they are capable.
I am struck by this because it seems to explain so much about the absolute venom we find in political discourse today, especially on the web. Perhaps anonymity allows this well of aggression to be expressed without perceived consequences. There are people who need to hate, for whom hatred is as orgasmic as sex.
What do you think? Is she on to something?