Mark Hurlbert: A History of Corruption
Al Bundy or Teddy Roosevelt?

Cowardly Cognitive Dissonance

Because I confront people who cut in line and do other anti-social acts, I often hear, "Mike, you're going to get shot!"

My first thought is, "Why don't you think they should be worried about me?"  And yet the question itself reveals the national ethos - one of cowardice.

How often have you heard a person say, after backing down from a confrontation, "You need to live to fight another day"?  There is logic to that position, and one does indeed need to know when to retreat.  Yet the warrior retreats so that he may attack when its advantageous.  "[E]ven though the enemy should offer us an attractive bait, it will be advisable not to stir forth, but rather to retreat, thus enticing the enemy in his turn; then, when part of his army has come out, we may deliver our attack with advantage."

And yet, for the vast majority of American males, that "another day" never seems to come.  Life is one never-ending serious of punking out.  The boss yells at you?  Take it.  Your wife nags you about dishes in the sink.  Deal with it.  Someone cuts in front of you in line?  

Just never yell at someone.  Never tell someone to fuck off.  Never tell a person to get to the back of the line.  Live to fight another day.

It's easy to understand where this lie comes from.  We tell ourselves that we will live to fight another day because realizing we are cowards is hurtful.  Yet we did just back down, right?  This creates cognitive dissonance.  We will lie to ourselves in order to resolve the dissonance.

The problem with lying to one's self is that it prevents change.  Maybe you don't stand up for yourself because you'd get an ass kicking.  If that's the case, learn jiu jitsu.  Box.  Take steroids: If you're over 40, you can get testosterone from your doctor. Lift weights.  Unless you're really old, there is no legitimate excuse for being feeble.

Maybe you won't confront your boss because you fear being fired.  If that's the fear, then make yourself someone who would be impossible to fire.  Create systems at work that only you understand.  Sabotage your enemies.  Just because you don't punch first doesn't mean you shouldn't punch hardest.

If you're afraid of standing up to your spouse, make yourself the kind of person your spouse would be a fool to attack.  Become someone with options.

To become something better, you must first recognize your contemptible state.  Embrace the dissonance.  Recognize that you are pathetic, and instead of telling lies to yourself, do something to change.

Has that "another day" you keep mentioning ever come?  

It's not too late...