Tales From the Hilltop
An intelligent, yet Devil's Advocate view of the world

Episode Twenty-One: Mashing the Emotional Buttons

Even the best of us have a fuse that’s meant to be lit.

So, today’s voyage will examine people and their level of disrespect that one handles. Everyone is very different on this subject: some have extremely short fuses, and are set off very easily, yet others have a disposition to take a little abuse before they fly off the handle. I’m wondering why people should feel as though they need to measure each other’s level of tolerance at all.

Just so you know what I mean, we do measure it: the concepts are called patience and poise. Many people say this is what separate people from animals and the less civilized populous; the fact that we are rational beings who don’t have to resort to physicality every time someone decides to violate our feelings. I agree with this, but my general question is where does the line get drawn on these measures? And at what point does line divide from annoyance to disrespect to the perceivably of being threatened?

OK, I’m going to admit something personal right now: up until about 8th grade, I was a target for bullies. I recall being mocked for my “different” character, insulted for my intelligence, and even physically harmed (while being robbed at one point in my school’s yard).  It wasn’t until my tolerance level shortened for that verbal and physical abuse that able was able to repeal the bullies and to show them I was no longer afraid of them, even if it meant I would be beaten up in a fight by them. Surprisingly, they left me alone after I stood up to them. However, my story of reversing my fortune are rare and others who weren’t so lucky have suffered serious consequences.

Most of you good people have read the story of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old girl who was constantly bullied at her high school to the point where she simply couldn’t take it anymore and committed suicide. (If you haven’t, go here: http://larrykinglive.blogs.cnn.com/2010/03/30/9-ma-teenagers-charged-in-bullying-that-led-to-teenagers-suicide/?iref=allsearch)

Now, obviously her tolerance level was very high, because she had been enduring this torturous behavior from her classmates for some time. Not being an advocate for in-school fights, what would’ve happen if she would’ve responded to this with some sort of retaliation? Would, in fact, she’d still be alive? I’m not saying she should’ve taken the Columbine route, but just letting it happen without releasing that pent-up anger, rage, and abuse doesn’t help anyone in that situation.

There are many ways to release anger in a non-threatening manner: some people join sports and focus their anger on that. Some paint. Some write music. I personally like to weight lift. However, at some point in time, the provokers of pushing those “magical emotional buttons” have to be confronted in some form if the person wishes to be free of being taunted. Or should they? Society says that any retaliation, especially in these ultra-violent days is wrong. Yet they have offered no solace to the parents of Miss Prince, who is now lost forever because no one stepped in to stop the bullying and taunting, and she felt trapped enough to release that pent-up anguish on herself.

Now, this leads us back to the original question posed: Why should tolerance be measured at all? Obviously, if someone feels slighted by another person, they certainly have the right to confront that person about, especially if it’s considered to be threatening mentally, psychologically, emotionally, or physically to their overall well-being? Should there be a level of leeway we are entitled to have before we decide to let our emotions overcome our logic and react to negativity in our own styles? Or by doing so, are we causing our own de-evolution we’ve claimed have become the opoosite of what we’ve set out for: a people more rational to react appropriately to adverse situations?

I don’t know about all that, but I’m just stating this: You push my buttons in the right sequence; you’d better be prepared to handle the resulting explosion that’ll follow.



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