What Would You Do?
Into a soul absolutely free
From thoughts and emotion,
Even the tiger finds no room
To insert its fierce claws
— A Taoist Priest, from the opening pages of Tao of Jeet Kune Do, by Bruce Lee.
While doing research for an article it happened that I got sidetracked by another blogger's post, in addition to an unrelated but relevant news report. So for now, I feel compelled to bring you a lesson in dojo etiquette and managing one's impulses out into the real world. A Karate Man Would Not is the fictional tale about a young trainee who is exhorted by his master to temper his relationships with others outside of the training hall. The master, in typical fashion, is not very direct about how one should exactly approach this, hoping that the student will get it on his own with minimal prodding. Without giving too much away, the story focuses on how to remain cool when challenged in a non-physical way. Easy in theory. Not so easy when it really goes down.
Case in point: A man confronts a group of people protesting a fracking project taking place near public schools in Mars, Pennsylvania. Clearly spoiling for a fight, the antagonist lets loose with a barrage of insults and insinuates that the camera man is somehow responsible for "milking my tax dollars" (to say nothing of the fact that oil companies are entitled to billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, but I digress) because citizens have apparently little better things to do than to worry about natural gas drilling where they live.
Please watch this to the end. Examine your inner state as you view this.
DISCLAIMER: Profane and racist language
I don't know about you, but my initial viewing of this left me feeling like I wanted to put my foot through a wall. The fact that this is an environmental issue, or about free speech, or that this idiot ended up getting fired from his job because his boss saw this now-viral clip on YouTube is besides the point. The peaceful group were for the most part unfazed by this verbal attack. There's no doubt they harbored some fear, and for good reason. Realize that this guy felt that he held the moral high ground with this tirade.
Who among us could remain poised in the face of such a vicious verbal barrage? In the past I've written about honor and a real life tale of what happens when self-restraint fails. Whether your reaction is one of fear or that of anger, it should not dictate how you respond. As Musashi said, "In fighting and in everyday life you should be determined through calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. An elevated spirit is weak and a low spirit is weak. Do not let the enemy see your spirit."