03 June 2011


At first glance, I seem rather peaceable.  No scowl, no growl.  I can smile and exchange pleasantries at the grocery store with the best of them.  

But there is a very dangerous part of me.  A part I sometimes have a hard time controlling.

It's my temper.

The Irish in me, perhaps.  In any case, when it goes off, it goes off.  Look out.  Stand back.  All the anger, the animosity, the raw savagery in me can come out in a heartbeat.  And I can't be held responsible for my actions.  

Or can I?

When the fists have flown, the teeth have been knocked out, the window smashed... Who is really responsible?

Maybe he shouldn't have talked to me like that.  Looked at me like that.  Listen, I've had a hard day.  Week.  Life.  It's not easy being me.  Pressure, demands, a lot of...anyway, maybe he shouldn't have looked at me like that.

OK, I just couldn't control myself.  Just that once.  Or twice.  Or that one other time.  Or...

When enough people have seen me not be able to control myself, it gets hard.  Walking down the street.  People tend to cross when they see me coming.  They think they know what to expect.  They don't understand, just because I'm like that sometimes, doesn't mean I'm like that all the time.

If there's a cop around.  Or my grandmother, or my level-headed friend.  Then I'm all right.  I can keep it in check.

But if not... Well, not so easy to control myself.  So things can get a little bloody.  So people start crossing the street when they see me coming.  Can I blame them?

And for groups.  If my group has an unusually large percentage of people like me-- people who can't control ourselves so well?  People who have a tendency to 'go off'?  Well, other people start to cross the street.  Members of other groups, that is.  When they see one of us coming.  Can we blame them?

If I can't police myself--if I can't control my own violent impulses--I start to lose friends.  I start to get a reputation around town.  A not-so-nice one.  People see me coming and decide it's not even worth it.  Why say 'hi' when there's a fifty percent chance I'll take a swing?  Not even going to bother, says he, I'll just cross.  Too bad if it's insulting.  My unbroken jawbone is worth it.

If we can't police our own 'body'--our own group--the same happens.  Just don't bother, say other groups.  I'm not going to risk it.

I'll just cross the street.

Too bad if he's one of the 'good' ones.  So I've offended someone.  So what?   My unbroken jawbone is worth it.

When we (person or group) have reached the point where no outside force can control us, and no inner impulse can control us either... We've officially reached the point where, when people systematically cross the street as they see us coming, we can lay the blame in one place and one place only.

On ourselves.

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