Don’t We Ever Grow Weary of Fighting?

I’m tired of the word “fight” and all it represents.

Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search of my inbox for emails containing the word “fight.” There are over 600 of them since January 1, alone. 600 emails talking about fighting, enjoining me to fight for a cause, against an atrocity, for or against a politician – 600 of them in less than two months. I’m tired of it.

We live in a cult of death that glorifies the “fighting spirit” and people who “fought the good fight” (notice how that’s usually said posthumously, implying they put up a grand struggle but lost the war). We like to think of “competitive” as a virtue, and maybe – sometimes – it is. Sometimes, a good competition inspires people to work harder and achieve more. We were competing with Russia and our own limitations to put men on the moon. But that’s not fighting. That’s not slugging the other guy so you can cross the finish line first. It’s someone in the next lane, goading you to be a better version of yourself than you were in the last race. If we saw every competition as a “fight,” we’d be fighting ourselves half the time, slugging ourselves on the chin, shooting our–well, maybe there are people who do view every competition as a fight. That’s tragic.

I “fought cancer” and won. Actually, I drifted from one medical appointment to the next, glad of the people whose work included coordinating appointments, surgical teams, O.R.s, and insurance benefits so I didn’t have to employ half a brain cell. I was glad of family and friends who took care of the practical, day-to-day things while my mind and body grasped at what was going on, submitted to the various procedures that felt scarier and more painful than the cancer, and healed – so that life could go on. I showed up. They did all the work. And I am grateful to be alive. But the “fighting” metaphor doesn’t really work for me. Together, we humans kicked cancer’s ass. This time.

We can do remarkable things when we’re in it to win it. We’ve been kicking cancer to the curb for years, and more and more people are living longer to tell the tale. Some of them have battled the treatment, itself, though – chemo isn’t for sissies. And when the chemo beats the cancer and says, “Okay, you get to live another day,” do we claim defeat? Or is the damage chemo, itself, inflicts chalked up to “friendly fire”?

Seriously, we need better metaphors. Or we need to be careful in defining our enemies, because it should never be the fight that we glorify. The glorified fight is never-ending, because we don’t want it to end. When it ends, we need another enemy – real or imaginary – to keep the fire burning in our bellies.

We have The War on Drugs; The War on Christmas; The War on Terrorism; The War on Women; The War on Men; The War on Voting; The War on… hell, you’d think we’re at war with breathing. Here’s a list of 109 Things Obama Has Declared War On (“according to conservative pundits, lazy headline writers, and Google trawling”). And we’re not winning any of them, so again – we seem to be in love with the fight, not the victory. And I think that’s what’s been wrong with every conflict we’ve entered since WWII. There’s something about a fight that unites. But rather than fighting other people, couldn’t we find plenty of common enemies to vanquish together?

I believe we have enough to keep several generations busy finding ways to win – because if we have the will to win, we hardly need a “fighting spirit.” We need to join hands with a will to make peace – the enemy should never be us. We could annihilate a huge list of diseases, poverty, hunger, homelessness – if we just made up our minds to do it, once and for all, together. We can’t end climate change, but together we can figure out how to feed the hungry as climate change challenges current agricultural bands and farming methods; we could develop cleaner, sustainable, renewable energy sources to meet our growing demands without further damaging our planet and its resources. Together, we can.

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
Please share this post!

16 thoughts on “Don’t We Ever Grow Weary of Fighting?”

    1. Hehehe… I love a good debate. But a GOOD debate doesn’t involve fighting – it involves winning through logic and effective rhetoric. I know people who think I love to argue, but the fact is, I don’t – not much. Only when the argument stimulates deeper thought on both sides and leads to new insights. Otherwise, I’d really rather not bother – if it’s just butting heads. I’ve been married almost 32 years – happily so – and I don’t recall one “fight” we’ve ever had. The occasional snark? Sure. Lasts less than an hour and two hours later I couldn’t tell you what it was about. Fights? Never.

  1. There was a time when I was always up for good fight but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost interest in even the tiniest battle. Somewhere along the line, I decided I could do more good to myself and to others if I learned to (using my favorite cliches) chill out and go with the flow. We could start a war against using the word war, I guess. 😀
    Patricia Stoltey recently posted…The Sunshine Blogger AwardMy Profile

    1. Oh, the irony – but we could! LOL I like the idea of passive non-cooperation better. But I don’t like the idea of getting beaten and trampled for the cause. So I’m rather torn – Gandhi’s approach to change takes a lot of courage and strength of will. I have to admit that there might be limits to mine.

  2. Good point, Holly. I hate the “fight” lingo, too, especially that revolving around sporting events. It seems “we” have to CRUSH the opponent, annihilate them, take them to the cleaners, totally destroy them. And, or course there is the political rhetoric where certain candidates would “bomb ISIS into oblivion” or “carpet bomb them”. I think such rhetoric fosters violence in our society, and one aspect of that violence is that we are fighting or at war with everyone and everything that we don’t agree with. You make a good point, Holly, we could accomplish a lot more through cooperation than through our so-called “wars”. Maybe if and when we get a woman into the White House, that will begin to change. I’m for Senator Amy Klobuchar or Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2020.

  3. I too do not like the word fight. But then I don’t like boxing, street brawls, and war. I do agree that we should be able to band together and wipe out hunger, homelessness, and cancer. Keep up the …

  4. I have kind of a different take on this; then again, I would, being a military kid. lol

    You always have to be prepared to fight; that doesn’t mean you like doing it. If you care about life, living, family, freedom, etc, you have to make the decision as to whether you’re always willing to be suppressed or oppressed or tortured or whatever or whether you’re willing to fight for what you believe in, no matter what it is.

    After that you have to determine the way to fight, how long to fight, and what your goal is. Truthfully, losing the Vietnam War was the best thing for this country because after that the powers that be realized that, as you stated above, not having the goal be to win and win by any cost ends up costing you big in the end. What you win… well, that usually takes thinking of the contingencies before the action, and unfortunately that’s still a place where many fail.

    The “how you fight” thing is the critical one. When I was younger I often was ready to die for the protection of my friends… I literally put myself into situations that, luckily, never proved to turn out badly but they could have. These days I’d rather do it with some of what I write and calling out the bad or stupid I see (hence, the link below).

    In my opinion the options are to fight, to submit, or to not care and just go about one’s business. At least I don’t live a big part of what my dad always advised, that being to see everyone as the enemy at all times; though I’m cautious, I don’t want to go there if I can help it.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…White America, It’s Not Always About YouMy Profile

    1. I don’t know that we really do have a “different take on it.” I’m talking about the rhetoric that I think leads to glorification of violence and stirs people to commit acts of violence that are not necessary or productive. (They generally aren’t, and if no one committed acts of violence, none would be necessary.) I didn’t say I wouldn’t commit an act of violence if I had to, to protect myself or someone else. I just really don’t want to, and I’m tired of the cheerful rhetoric that extols the virtues of a “good fight.” Rasheed got what I was saying.

      I think you do, too, Mitch. 🙂
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Ash Wednesday: Observing Lent from a Secular PerspectiveMy Profile

      1. I do, but I think it’s healthy for me to have started with what I wrote…

        See, there’s a tale that says Mother Teresa said she’d never show up at an event that was a war on poverty but if it was a rally for peace or a rally to feed the poor that she’d show up. Is it possible that the semantic difference is a difference across the board? I’m not so sure, but I know that because of philosophical differences those of us who are Pro-choice are labeled as fans of abortion, and no matter how much we might object it is what it is.

        I tend to believe there’s language that stimulates people and there’s language that gets people to think… whether or not I agree with it. Personally, I’d feel better saying “I’m fighting cancer” than saying “I’m going to do what I can to feel healthy”; that’s just how I am.
        Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Bloggers Are Leaders Because…My Profile

      2. Fair enough!

        Part of the problem is that I don’t want us to wage a war on ANYTHING that we don’t have the means and the will to WIN. And I strongly believe that goals, framed in positive terms, are much more achievable. “Feed the hungry” is much better than “end hunger.” (If you want to get sinister about it, there are ways to end hunger without feeding the hungry.) “Teach the hungry to grow food and feed themselves” is even better. Every step towards making this a BETTER world, not merely a controlled and punitive society, is something I could get behind. And I really have to believe we have it in us. I’m not ready to throw in the towel on humanity.

        It’s effective rhetoric – this labeling of us “pro-choice” folks as “pro-abortion.” IF you want to demonize us. Of course it’s so easy to turn around – just point out that the folks who do it are also the ones who would turn their backs on a child the moment it’s born with disabilities, or to a poor single mother. They’re the ones who would deny it healthcare, welfare, affordable housing. What they are, then, is not “pro-life,” but “pro-fetus.” Whatever helps them sleep at night and feel like good people…

        We’re not winning our “wars on” drugs, poverty, homelessness, or any number of things we’re at war on. We’re not actually AT war with Christmas or any number of things that make great and divisive headlines. Maybe we should be at war with shoddy journalism. Oh, wait, no – we should really get rid of shoddy journalism, but not wage another ineffective rah-rah “war” on it. That’s the problem with rhetoric. We can’t be all rah-rah about fighting, or we’ll NEVER win a war.
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…Ash Wednesday: Observing Lent from a Secular PerspectiveMy Profile

  5. I don’t do conflict well, which is funny, because, as a writer, I CREATE conflict extremely well.

    I know where all the buttons are, but I can’t take it in person. I’m convinced we need to find the win/win/win combinations – and stop wasting all that energy on fighting.

    Fighting never changed a baby, or made dinner, or wrote a novel.

    I’m convinced it wastes energy which would be better spent addressing the world’s problems.

    And was entirely amused to find out that the attitude goes with my Myers-Briggs personality type – I’m one of the peacemakers and diplomats. I want everyone happy.

    Which makes it tricky in a world of scarce resources (such as traditional publishing), and explains why I’m much more suited for self-publishing: there are plenty of readers for everyone, and there are some out there who are MINE.

    Fighting should be the LAST resource.

    And I’m not naive: much progress has been done only AFTER the people who were being shafted got organized and fought for their/our rights.

    And Gandhi’s methods have gotten a lot of people killed. Non-violence works best against a certain type of violator, one who cares about public opinion. Even in the eponymous movie, and entire courtyard of peaceful protestors, men, women, and children, were gunned down by soldiers while they were sitting without any weapons. It is one of the most horrifying scenes in the movie.

    1. Even there, at the end, it works – or could. I’m just not that willing to self-immolate, or to be the sacrificial lamb. I think most people do care – somewhat – about the opinion of others. Even if it’s just a matter of keeping their own self-image going.

      I think that your point about fighting being a waste of energy that could be better spent on addressing the world’s problems is a good summation of my frustration with it. It’s so pointless, and robs us of so much.

Comments are closed.