Families and Nations…Not So Different

2 June 2013

I’d feel better,thinking that I could easily withdraw from set pieces of unnecessary ego and smilingly give up the notion that everything is bound up in “getting my way”. But I (and, perversely, I hope all of you,too) just can’t or won’t…life would be easier, if only the arrow of wounded pride could be treated with mercurochrome instead of years of psychotherapy.  It’s on display, when responding to kids, asking for a little play time on Wii or watch time on TV. Would it be so awful? But reflexively we say “no”…and can’t relent. They ask again, but the answer stays “no”. After third grade, they know not to ask. They just do it…ruthless enough to know it’s harder to shut off an activity already started, than to ask permission beforehand.

I got into that quagmire a couple of weeks ago with a calligraphy client, who wanted samples. I told her I usually send them, but I was too busy (this time of year) and couldn’t. But you say on your Web site that you’ll send them, she said, rightly. And quick as Krazy Glue we got set in our own stuff…me saying “no”, she insisting on getting them. She knowing from Internet posts that I do good work, Me knowing that my Web site promises samples. She knowing that she couldn’t use me, if I didn’t acquiesce. Me knowing I’d lose a customer, if I didn’t acquiesce. It was the perfect storm of SIAS…Stuck in Absurdity Syndrome…with seemingly no way out.

Translate that to the world-in-the-balance WMD level and the egos of statesmen and the more fragile display of national psyches…not showing weakness and parading strength and not backing down and not losing face. And that devolves down within nations to the petty political level of parties, of inland and coastline, of tribe and clan…and then to families with kids who ask for a little time on TV or Wii.