The discussion of aggression and assertiveness is an important one to have in our modern age. Too much of our society is dominated and controlled by aggression, and this serves to propagate many of the social problems that plague us today. Aggression is a reactive strategy, one designed to handle an immediate threat. At some point, however, we began to over apply it to all situations, and we began to see threats everywhere. Maybe we became intoxicated by the easy rewards of the aggression, and created threats to justify it’s use, or maybe the demands of the world wore us down and we retreated into terror. But we decided that it was how we wanted the world to be, and gave into the urges towards violence and accepted the terrifying world that went with it.
But despite what many have chosen to believe, there is another way to live in the world. You can see the world as populated by people as human as you are. You can be proactive instead of reactive. You can handle the world instead of feeling constantly threatened by it, but there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.
Are you ready to give those who upset you the benefit of the doubt? Are you able to see them not as hated others but as people struggling in the same confusing world as you, and stumbling along the way?
Can you see the problems to be solved instead of the people to be blamed?
Can you be confident enough to own your feelings and beliefs rather than to attack those of the people around you?
Can you stand up for the rights of others, even though you may not agree with the others your are standing for?
Can you hold yourself responsible for your beliefs and actions as you are holding other responsible for theirs? Can you address your contributions to a problem when addressing the problems shared by others?
Can you reject the tools of harm for the tools cooperation and compromise?
These questions may seem to create an overly simplistic view of the world, but the point of some questions is not the answer, but the struggle to reach the answer. Even if you accept the ideals of assertiveness, you won’t be able to be assertive all of the time. But if you do not continually ask the question, you will never see the openings to be assertive and can fall back into the traps of aggression. There will be times when you are forced into situations where aggression is the only response you see, where the threat is immediate and you have to choose the reactive response. But that aggression is not the only response, and we will never find the new way to be assertive in the world if we are not asking those questions. When a man walked into a school in Georgia with an assault weapon, for example, the deadly shoot-out was avoided as a staff member simply talked to him. Most people would have fought violently or fled, but Antoinette Tuff found a different way. As we go forward, as we look at the world and all its problems, will you be able to ask those questions so you can find the other way as well?