I recently asked my friend Neil Remington Abramson, a business professor, how he had survived the academic wars, with no apparent psychological damage. His initial reply was “I became a Christian”.
There’s another dimension, relating to strategy in conflict, as Neil wrote as follows:
No doubt, I’m also a good fighter. It’s like Duel at Ichijoji Temple, the second film in the Musashi Samurai Trilogy. The Samurai seeks to avoid conflict, but his weapons are always sharp. I used to teach this film in my undergraduate Strategy classes.
I also learned from chess that a draw is often good enough, and the best time to attack is either when they think they have you on the run, or when they are prematurely celebrating their victory. And I teach my students about the Battle of Thermopylae. It’s better to be prepared to go down with all hands (figuratively), than to suffer dishonor. It also ups the stakes. Many prefer more civilized conflict, where they just make you crawl, after they get you to concede. People who start fights shouldn’t be allowed to escape, until they suffer a bit of discomfort.
I know this is not a good attitude on my part. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe it’s socialization. How to tell, and would it matter?
If you know Christ teaches to cooperate, even with those who treat you with disregard or hostility, then to maintain these attitudes is Original Sin: man preferring his own will to God’s, in an act of hubris. And yet I am still that way, despite the recognition and intention. It’s like what St. Paul says about the spirit being enslaved by the body.
If, however, God made me this way, then…