The Weapon of Loving-kindness


I have the distinct privilege of being able to train often with a few boys and young men. They're all fabulous—down to the very last one of them.

Like most boys and young men, they're bodies and minds pulse with gobs and gobs of testosterone. Testosterone (which fuels competition and protectiveness) can make the male part of our species behave very...interestingly.

Especially, when threatened or stressed.

Now, while I'll be the first to write that if you (or someone you love) is being threatened physically, do whatever you can to protect yourself and those you love and care about.

But what if it's just your pride that's being threatened? Or your feelings? Do such "threats" warrant an aggressive physical response?

No. Categorically.

In fact, responding to social offense with physical violence is illegal and will always end badly: you and/or the person you react to could get killed or seriously hurt, you could get expelled from school, you could be sentenced to juvenile detention, you could be hauled of to jail, etc. And then there are the lawsuits that might follow. From where I'm sitting, none of the above looks appealing to me.

To the young men and boys I know (and to those I don't)...

When "the monkey dance" starts (and you know exactly what I mean by that), your go-to strategy should ALWAYS be deescalation...

Deescalation of your own emotional aggressiveness (e.g., the emotional tidal wave crashing upon the shores of your personhood) and deescalation of the aggression in the person (or group) picking at you.

The best way to deescalate your own (and others') aggressive tendencies is for you to "put on" the quality of loving-kindness. "What's loving-kindness?" you ask. Great question.

Loving-kindness (from Webster's): tender and benevolent affection.

(Let's do a close reading of that definition.)

Tender (also from Webster's): showing care: considerate [thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others]; solicitous [eager; meticulously careful].

Benevolent (yep, Webster's): marked by or disposed to doing good; marked by or suggestive of goodwill.

Affection (more of the same): a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something: tender attachment.

Implemented in tensely emotional situations, loving-kindness can be a very potent weapon. So you train in the martial arts. Does your training include the cultivation of qualities like loving-kindness, gentleness, and respect? If not, I'd like to suggest that your training is not just deficient but useless. Strong statement? Yep. Hyperbolic? Not at all.

Give these things some thought.

Peace to you...

 

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