Will you flee or will you fight?

My little kid´s behavior is very different than my older son´s. When he misbehaves and you scold him he fights back. The more intensely you reprimand him, the more violently he reacts. Essentially, he never retreats. That is very different to what we were used to. Our older son would very quickly shy out and obey. My little kid is 2 years old, so we know that those terrible twos will pass, but it is the comparison between both kids that got me thinking.

Seems like there is an instictive condition to his behavior, not so much an environmental one. Yes, we all like to play down how the environment affects us, but I will take that as a safe assumption. Clearly our two kids have a different instinctive response. It is very tempting then to label them. Our older son naturally falls in the bucket of the good kids. That's good. But you can also put him on the coward side too, the fearsome kids that will avoid any confrontation. Our younger one though, is a bad kid, he misbehaves, he is a want-it-all type of child. But he is also a fighter, he will stand for what he wants no matter what. For the sake of using a positive note on both cases, I´ll use the terms fighter and mediator (good-kid type tends to pacify any confrontation to escape it).

It seems to me that fighters naturally develop a strong sense of justice when they grow up. Concepts like right or wrong will have a strong meaning to them. Morality and ethics will play a key role in the way they interpret the world. On the other hand, mediators tend to see the world with a greater sense of relativity. Everything depends on how you look at it. "Yes you may have a point". They develop the ability to put themselves in other peoples' shoes, to the extent of blurring morality and justice, because, in the end, who knows what this guy has gone through, right? There are very few absolutes, if any.

The development of morality, of empathy, of relativity they all require higher brain functions than my kids can now deal with. That´s why we think of these things as proper values of a rational and self-conscious adult, whether figther or mediator. But my kids just got me thinking whether those concepts are just the rationalization of a pretty instinctive, biologically hard coded, reaction. Are we just wrapping pure animal behavior into beautifully conceptualized ideas? Are we deceiving ourselves by considering these higher values when all we are doing is justifying survival instinct? Fighters may well develop a strong sense of justice simply to justify internally their strong reactions. Mediators will find the concept of justice laughable and justify their own cowardliness as a result of an open mind ready to understand and empathize with anyone. Fighters and mediators will admire and despise each other at equal parts. Mediators will admire the strength of the fighter but despair at its irrationality. Fighters will admire the emotional balance of the mediators but despair at their apathy.

Depending on the intellectual capacity and interest of the subject, this game goes on and on to enter the grounds of philosophy and religion, explored by some of the brightest minds of our kind. But still, the question remains to whether those brilliant minds are constructing over the same foundations that make a squirrel jump from tree to tree.

This is obviously the blog post of a mediator, not sure about anything in this life and willing to infect doubt into anyone else; cowardly rejecting the confrontation with the most fundamental questions. So sorry about that, didn´t mean any harm. I just wanted to build some perspective into an emotional struggle, trying to prevent my kids from hurting each other at some point due to unreconciled differences (I´ve fantasized that you kids will read my posts when you reach my age!).

Anyway, not all is lost for us mediators, and I regularly revert to Francis Bacon´s words when I fall too deeply into the pit of doubt: "It´s all so meaningless, we may as well be extraordinary." May very well be.

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