Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Impulse Control

Not too many people just wake up and want to beat the hell out of someone, but there are always exceptions.

On a related note, we don't have a dentist in house.

One of our scouts, Jamie Packard, is sitting in isolation right now after getting into a fight with Dodger. To be accurate, I should say that Jamie and Dodger had a heated disagreement which the former tried to end by blindsiding the latter. Jamie sucker punched Dodger when the poor guy thought the argument was over and lost two teeth for his optimism.

It's not the issue of the fight that makes me want to tell you about this incident, but rather why the fight happened in the first place.

While on his daily run outside with the scouts, Dodger wanted to go searching for more groups of hibernating zombies beyond the patrol area. It was very cold this morning just as it was yesterday at that time, but yesterday got warm. Which means that some of the undead got up and started moving around. With that lovely bit of information, you might see why Dodger was so intent on finding a group of zombies while they were helpless.

Jamie was fine with the idea, as were the other scouts. They have been making runs with Dodger regularly since last week and have come to mostly trust his judgement on this type of thing. Ahh, but that qualifier has to be put in: mostly. See, by the time they actually found a group of undead, it was already pushing fifty-five degrees. Dangerously close to the temperature they wake up at. Indeed, a few of the hardier zombies were stirring even as the discussion was going on whether to stay or go.

Dodger wanted to go, Jamie wanted to stay. As the disagreement grew more heated and some insults were hurled at Dodger, he decided to pull rank and make the call to come back home, at which point Jamie called him a coward and slugged him while wearing his armored gloves.

That brings us up to right now, I guess. Rich, our arbiter for all legal situations, is having to judge the attack on Dodger based on what happened today. Problem is, all of us know how Jamie feels. As I came to find out while hearing about this whole scenario, Jamie has had it harder than most of us. He managed to get his immediate family safe, only to watch some of them die in a brutal zombie attack. Acting as the leader of his small group long before he met us, he found himself alone after a while. Every person he loved was killed, leaving him no one. Imagine how badly that must have scarred him, and the anger those deaths must have stoked.

To give some perspective,  let me share something about myself I'm not especially proud of. It's short and not so sweet.

A few weeks ago some people were over at the house taking my combat class. One of them left a bar of chocolate out. They must have saved it from Halloween. Anyway, one of my dogs got into it and ate the damn thing. Made him sick enough that I thought he was going to die. I went from house to house looking for who had done such a thoughtless thing, totally ignoring the fact that it was an accident in my rage, and when I finally got to the right house, the lady who did it admitted the truth. I lost it, screamed at her, and while she seemed a little worried that I was going to attack her (reasonable, since I was yelling in her face) she also took my outburst with a fair amount of calm.

Of course, I eventually apologized. I overreacted. My only defense is that I love my dogs and all my other animals almost as much as I do my family and more than I do most people. They are sweet and loyal and unconditional with their love for me. I don't take the illness or death of my pets very well.

I was almost on the point of violence for the sake of my sick dog. Jamie lost his entire world to the plague of zombies, so who among us can blame him for his intense desire, bordering on a need, to kill them? No one.

We are, however, a community built on the idea of peaceful cooperation. We can disagree all day long, but at the end of it we have to do so with each other non-violently. Else we risk so many of the same mistakes that society made before. We have laws and punishments for that reason. There have to be consequences to actions.

I'm not the one who got punched. Dodger is. He's a pretty reasonable guy, but who would blame him for wanting to see Jamie punished for his actions? Jamie was in the wrong. It's a shitty situation.

There's a famous quote whose source escapes me. It says something to the effect that to achieve real compromise, you have to make both parties feel as though each of them got the best deal they could get, but leave them wishing for something a bit better.

I don't know if that sort of wanting satisfaction can be reached here, but I really hope so. Not for the sake of a fistfight that the two men will probably both grunt out an apology to each other for (because that's what we men do, in case you didn't know), but because all of us carry that fury around with us. All the damn time. We are bitter and frustrated animals struggling to fit within the cage we have built to contain us and keep us safe. We trust that our reason and self control will overcome the more impulsive and vengeful side of our nature.

Not always possible. We all know that. This incident only underscores the truth that we are all capable of doing something stupid and destructive when our buttons are pushed. I hope that we can keep that sort of thing to a minimum, but I also hope that when outbursts do happen we can have some compassion and flexibility on both sides. A little understanding.

It's personal for me.

If my dog had died, I don't know if I would have had the self control not to lash out at that woman. Given how I feel about men who abuse women, that there is even a question in my heart about it is enough to make me worry about just how high my stress level has gotten. Again, not just me: all of us, at least every adult here, deals with similarly injured hearts. How do we deal? How can you heal the pain of a thousand cuts as this world of the dead continues to bleed us day after day?

Help me out here, because I just don't know.

1 comment:

  1. We're all under a lot of stress and in a lot of pain. But that's all the more reason to be sure to keep our tempers on a tight leash when we're around each other. Redirect it to the undead; any attacks on our fellow survivors run the risk of suddenly tearing the whole community apart.