It is December and time for the seemingly annual display of our pugilistic mindset...meaning that the cries of "war on Christmas!" echo through the studios of a certain segment of our news media (you know who they are) and spill out on the airwaves. The latest story going around is that kids in a certain Florida school have been banned from wearing green and red, because they are Christmas colors. Of course the school's denial has met with silence from the critics...who wouldn't know the truth if it bit them,IMHO.
It is easy to dismiss this annual bitching and complaining as the actions of a deluded, angry few, intended to get attention, raise support,etc. But I think something else is at work here and it involves us all. I believe that all too often any of us can fall into the trap of being pugilistic..that is ...looking for a fight, just for the fight's sake. There are many things we encounter on a daily basis that can make us angry. Bad drivers, rude callers, slow sales clerks - weather that is too cold,hot.wet,etc - all these and much more try our patience. If our day starts bad we can develop an attitude of "don't mess with me, I'm having a bad day!" And if we don't relax we may unload on the next unsuspecting person. It can happen to any of us, so beware the pugilistic mindset.
Even when we see legitimate targets or come across instances of wrongdoing that need to be corrected, are we looking for solutions ,or for an enemy to fight? We talk about elections in terms of war, of our fellow American opponents as "enemies", and wax on about the downfall of the country if the other side wins. And our differences get magnified into huge moral crises.
It doesn't seem to matter whether it is sports, politics, religion,or any other area. We all face the temptation to go looking for a fight. Fighting for what is right, to defend those at risk, is important. But why manufacture a fight?
I am reminded of a confrontation I had with a couple classmates in elementary school while walking home. They ambushed me at the junction in a path and I could tell that one of them wanted a fight (the other was just watching...lame groupie :<) . I hadn't had a run-in with the kid, though I had known him to get in trouble in class. I hadn't done anything I knew of to make him angry..he just was looking for a fight to "look tough" (hence the groupie). My response? I simply walked by him and away down the path..ignoring his pathetic shove. I never had a problem with him again.
Perhaps in this season. between Thanksgiving and Christmas we should ignore those who are itching for a fight, restrain our own pugilistic impulses, and focus on spreading a contagion of peace. There will be times when we need to fight, and important things to fight for, but I think right now there is much more need for peace and healing in this world...don't you?