A lot of people I visit have been feeling as if the world is spinning into a chaotic state. There’s a sense that what little control we have over events is flying away quickly. There seems to be an abundance of people grabbing whatever resources they can get their hands on. The news reports of ever increasing numbers and escalation of wars are a part of our daily information load.
My friend, Sam, informs me that he’s been feeling anxious about the flood of scary events and that he has tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to filter his information sources. He realizes that promotion of fear is an effective way to control people, but this knowledge has done little to calm his emotional state.
I agreed that it seems like we’re being dragged behind some evil force that has taken over the destiny of mankind. This sensation is present even though I’m highly skeptical of the notion of overarching evil and popular conspiracy theories. There seems to be something taking over civilization’s sense of direction and control. We seem to have surrendered to a state of self-destruction.
Aggressive behavior is becoming more common and acceptable. It’s easy to pinpoint some of the blame onto the increasing militarization of our local police and endless amounts of money spent on the national military. The law of Karma, the Golden Rule, or whatever you want to call it, tells us that we reap whatever we sow. This is not some sort of metaphysical mystery. People dish out what they receive.
Sam tells me he daily reminds himself that he examines what he cannot control and what he can control. He has a framed poster on his kitchen wall that reminds him not to be worried about what is out of his personal control and instead focus his energies on what is within his sphere of control. What he sees on the streets of Toronto makes him realize that the advice of the wall poster might only be a soothing platitude.
Sam says he doesn’t have any pressing personal issues. His lifestyle and career are going along in a more than satisfactory way. He has a healthy sense of spirituality, he has a great personal and domestic life and he enjoys contributing positively to the community by volunteering his time and money to causes he believes in. Yet, he cannot deny that something dark is going on around us.He feels that he is still being pushed around by the aggressive winds of fate.
We both noticed that the operative word in our conversation was “aggression”. There seems to be an epidemic of aggression sweeping over our world in small and large ways. A great number of people seem to have chips on their shoulders about something and they’re not shy about letting everybody know they intend to harm people who get in their way and disagree with their line of thinking.
Sam and I pondered the question, “What is going on with all this craziness?”
Aggression is not only a symptom of a deep social problem, it is also the cause of ever more social problems. There is a murderous cycle of aggression and suffering that is now running amok in many nations of the world.
This urgent problem seems rooted in beliefs and conditioning of groups of people that run counter to the beliefs and conditioning of other groups of people. There is also a sense of greed, in that some people feel entitled to much more of a share of the wealth at the expense of everyone else. There is a psychic black hole of selfishness sucking the life force out of the people. We don’t need to be taught how to recognize aggression; we know it instinctively.
Global aggression comes from personal aggression then each form feeds upon the other in the cycle mentioned above. We seek security in the present and the hereafter, often this is expressed in acquisitiveness and aggression.
Sam mentioned that people are basically lazy when it comes to examining their own faults. It’s more comforting to pass along blame to others. Furthermore,if there are big problems with aggressive behavior, we believe that others will take care of those problems for us. The hope is that another person who believes in the same things we believe in will take care of the problem aggressively. This laziness is just another form of conceit. “It’s my way or the highway!”
I added that when we notice strong aggressive behavior and violence, we seem to harbor the desire to respond with our own violent behavior. Many of us want to kill those other “people who cause all those wars” or, better yet, have people do that for us. We fail to note the hypocrisy in those words.
A good way to help oneself is to stop clinging to ideas and notions that are “set in stone”. From time to time, a person needs to examine her habits, ideals, belongings, and people in her life. We often find ourselves at the beck and call of authority figures who want us to deal with their agenda issues. As a result, we come to lose ourselves and form an identity that is harmful to those around us, including ourself. Sam said that if we want less aggression and violence in the world, we need to be more flexible and accepting.
I mentioned that I try to let go of the need to control myself and others. I’ve found that, sometimes, its good to allow new people and ideas into my head to see if they’re a good fit. Do they make me more tolerant and accepting? If not, I’m not afraid to let go of them. If they are a good fit, I can become more spontaneous and loving in thought. I’ve found that a more accepting attitude allows me to experience and enjoy new ways of thinking. I can then live more peacefully with others and myself.
Sam agreed. He said, being accepting and respectful of others automatically reduces a person’s urges towards aggression.
We thanked each other for the opportunity to hash things out and to remind ourselves of some valuable truths. Aggression is a primal energy in living beings. We can channel it destructively or constructively. It is best to be the master of ones emotions and curb impulsive anger and aggression. When the urge for aggressive behavior arises, the time to draw upon self-discipline has arrived.