Convergence of unlikely killers

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being violent and hitting people, because of learning kung fu. The validity of using force in self-defense is so obvious to everyone in the world except me that I haven’t been able to have a discussion about this with anybody, really.

“I can’t see how I could justify hitting someone in the face.”

“Well, if they were going to hurt you otherwise, it just makes sense.”

“But— “

The End.

After eating too many Penguin caffeinated mints yesterday, I finally figured out why I was so hung up on this. I’m happy about this for two reasons!

  1. Problem solved. I am suddenly really grounded about hitting people in the face. This feels much more stable and honest than my previous inner turmoil. (More below.)
  2. I think my caffeine-induced revelation counts as a junior Vision Quest, which I’ve been wanting to add to my problem solving repertoire for awhile.

Why I couldn’t just hit people, already

I think my hang up was that most rationalizations of self-defense would require me to either believe in the law of the jungle (eat or be eaten, man!), or some kind of means vs. end justification, both of which options run directly into the hardest part of my hard-ass ethical instincts (the part that says “TRY HARDER”).

At first I tried to go with the dog-eat-dog strategy, on the grounds that life is not fair. Man, do I love to get down with the unfairness of life. (It’s the core of atheism for me, and why I love it so much. I’m not the apple of god’s eye? Hot.)

But. Despite my addiction to Hard Truth, being allowed to punch somebody back seemed like a cop out. Does someone else’s violence really give an excuse to me, a separate person who believes in being peaceful?

Relationships are magic.

And there you go. An attacker, and a defender. Two separate people… who are having a relationship. It takes two to fight. If I’m being attacked, I’m already in the fight, and that relationship already has hitting in it.

For some reason, this relationship perspective makes a huge difference to me. I think I can defend without adding any violence. (Sure, I could escalate with really disproportionate defense, like explosions. But also I could do something appropriate.)

This really jives with one of the things I like about wing chun— it is focused on ending the fight, rather than having an extended battle or taking revenge. The point is just to bring the relationship back to a non-violent state. If either person can run away at any point, it’s done. I can live with that.

Post script

A separate hard truth that has been popping up lately is that I can’t get friendly with octopods, even though they are so interesting, because they are ruthless killers. I am intrigued by my potential to be a tough bitch. What would happen if I got to the point where I could take an octopus? (This is silly.)