Wanna fight?

“He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Isaiah 2:4.

Have you ever been in a fight? I don’t mean an argument with your spouse, boss, or co-worker. I am talking about a fist fight… standing at arm’s length away from another person, fists clenched, feet shuffling, sweating and moving around while hoping and praying that someone will rush in and break things up before either of you hits or gets hit. I was probably in three fist fights in my life, all before entering the 7th grade. But what I remember the most about those three fights was being SCARED out of my mind, so MAD I couldn’t see straight, and hurting like the blazes when my face connected with the other guy’s fist.

I remember it as such a thoroughly painful and humiliating experience that even now, 40+ years later I absolutely HATE the so-called “sport” of boxing.

So now our country has decided that mere boxing is just not exciting or violent enough. The newest rage sweeping the country (and gaining fans and adherents by DROVES) is something called Mixed Martial Arts, or Ultimate Fighting. It is boxing combined with wrestling combined with kicking, biting, scratching and just about any other approach that one person could take to inflict injury on another. “Human cock fighting” is a popular description of MMA. Tonight – for the first time ever – I watched one round of an MMA match. It was really a whole lot of nothing, accompanied by the palpable promise of genuine face-breaking violence pulsing just below the surface.

But here is my point: after a high level, civil, and issues-focused beginning, it seems as if the current presidential race is sliding into that old familiar territory of name calling and mud slinging. The incident earlier this week of Obama describing McCain’s economic policies as “putting lipstick on a pig,” followed by McCain’s people accusing Obama of blatant sexism, as if the remark were meant to describe Sarah Palin. So whether it shows up in the form of “human cock fighting” or in nasty verbal swipes by highly educated public servants, violence seems to be our primary operating mode of settling conflict. Why is that? I really don’t think it is a uniquely American trait, but we certainly seem to experience a national commitment to blasting and bullying our way into a superior position… no matter what the issue.

We bully because we can. When you are the big kid on the block with all the muscle, all the toys, all the means, and all of the supposed “moral authority” on your side of the ledger, bullying and bulldozing comes somewhat naturally I suppose. But why couldn’t those advantages lead us in the opposite direction? Why couldn’t our nation’s position (God-given, some mistakenly argue) of global advantage just as easily propel us toward generosity, benevolence, and a consensus-building approach to conflict resolution? I know a lot of people see an idea like this as hopelessly naive and impossible. But if we are ever to reverse our penchant for violence, where will it start? Will it start at the top with our government officials? Or will it start much closer to home… for example with YOU and ME?

1 Response to “Wanna fight?”

  1. September 11, 2008 at 3:58 am

    Interesting MMA/Politics analogy.

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