Do you ever find yourself really fighting with things a lot? Injustice, stupidity, tradition, inequality, bigotry, just plain rudeness? I do, at least in my head at times, and it’s really a pain.
We definitely need to fight things sometimes, unless you’re lucky enough to have other people do your fighting for you. I’ve definitely come to appreciate that there is no progress without destruction, and sometimes there isn’t a nice way to say that. When your Church or Mosque wants your kind of person dead or “cured”, and you can’t escape it, you objectively need that aspect of your Church or Mosque destroyed (not to mention what the kids left imprisoned there need). When ignorance blights people’s lives, it needs to be destroyed. In Nature itself, destruction is a part of growth. We didn’t come to understand the universe as well as we do without destroying the beliefs of a previous age.
Nevertheless, unless it is the right time, the right place, the right battle, fighting is a real drain on energy and attention, and your quality of life. Sometimes you have to fight before you can live, but a lot of the time it is possible to fight so constantly that you forget what living actually is. Unless it really is right for you, in that time and that place, then while you are fighting you are not living your own life.
When I went to my first big Pagan festival I met a guy who had come along just to see what it was like, a very smart and likeable guy. He showed me this thing from some kind of martial arts training. What he did was he held onto my wrist, and told me that I just had to lift my hand up and touch my forehead, while he tried to stop me, and I should try to not get distracted by anything he did. As I lifted my hand he tried to push, pull and force my hand this way and that, but eventually I brought my hand to my forehead. He said I had done very well, as most men struggled with fighting the interference, whereas I had just kept going towards the goal, which made it more difficult for him to interfere with (whereas if I had reacted and struggled with his interference I would have got caught up in that rather than getting to my forehead). At the time I remember that I was aware that he was exerting all these forces this way and that, but I just imagined that there was an invisible path up to my forehead (I think he told me to think of it something like that), and I headed for that, constantly, slowly, not compensating for the interference, just gently keeping on going.
I don’t find that kind of thing difficult, because it is physical. I’ve never once had a physical fight in my life. I physically cannot work out how to punch someone. My instinct is to yield. But when it gets up into your head, and people have been deliberately hurtful, or unjust, or done something that they just knew they could get away with, then I want to breathe fire, and believe me, I am capable of ill will that makes Bellatrix Lestrange look like Mary Poppins. But remember the invisible path – it applies here too. Especially with people who deliberately cause hurt; they expect a reaction, they feed off hurt, or humiliation, and that involvement is what keeps you from walking past the person who has just attacked you, or dumped on you. Like they say, “don’t feed the troll”.
Even with other things, far bigger than toxic troll syndrome, far more entrenched in injustice, we have to ask ourselves, in this case, am I fighting something it is personally right for me to fight at this time, to the extent that is appropriate? Am I being dragged off my path, draining my energy and attention, and is this a conscious decision or a reaction? Is it my way to fight right now, to make a difference for a good reason, or is it taking me away from my way. And as I have the choice, do I instead choose to follow the gently drifting path, on my way.