Pragmatic and common sense collide

By Reade Brower | Jan 30, 2014

Why we shout when in anger

A spiritual story – author unknown

A Hindu saint, who was visiting river Ganges to take a bath, found a group of family members on the banks, shouting in anger at each other.

He turned to his disciples, smiled and asked, “Why do people in anger shout at each other?”

The disciples thought for a while, and one of them said, “Because, when we lose our calm, we shout.”

“But, why should you shout when the other person is just next to you? You can just as well tell him what you have to say in a soft manner?” asked the saint.

The disciples gave some other answers, but none satisfied the other disciples.

Finally the saint explained, “When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance far apart. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other to cover that great distance. What happens when two people fall in love? They don't shout at each other but talk soft, because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either non-existent or very small.”

The saint continued, “When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that's all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.”

He looked at his disciples and said, “So when you argue do not let your hearts get distant. Do not say words that distance each other more, or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.”

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I had an interesting week. I was again reminded about a principle that I struggle with; I believe in a concept that says: “I can’t be right and everyone else wrong."

In times of struggle, the battle in my mind pits me against myself, a battle that I usually can’t win.

On the one hand, pragmatic behavior suits me and I tend to associate myself with pretty rational individuals and co-workers as I don’t consider “crazy” and “inconsistent” as virtues. It therefore goes to reason that when I seek advice and counsel, I should listen to these “wise ones."

Because I know this, I am in a quandary. The rational people are mostly telling me to let go and move on.

My stubborn side cannot let go. That shoulder puts too much weight on closure and doing the right thing.

I am reminded of one of the first battles I had as a young businessman. I had a sales rep, who was so convinced that I was going to cheat him out of a commission on a sale I made, he decided to take it out of a cash deposit he had received from another sale he had made. The problem was he had taken $150 more than he had earned, but could justify in his own mind as money “owed him."

Being young and naïve, I took an indignant stand and decided a court case was needed to settle the issue. So it was off to small claims court to pick up the paperwork. The case proved to be interesting. The sales rep had an identical twin brother he lived with, and a Doberman pinscher. When the sheriff arrived to serve him, it was always “the twin” who answered the door with the menacing Doberman in the background growling. The other “twin” was never home. I paid the sheriff several times to serve the papers, but he finally told me that the task was not doable and gave up.

I would see this man around town and it was costly; usually a double scotch on the rocks was next on my list along with a little venting to my poor wife (girlfriend at the time). Then, one day at a craft fair, I saw the identical twins, together and without their Doberman. I quickly called the sheriff and voila, service was made and justice was about to be served. But, it would turn out to be not quite that easy, as he was a "no-show" in court. I got a judgment, but no satisfaction because without another serving of papers, I could not get him back to court or get my money.

Fast-forward to the same craft fair one year later, the twins were together again manning their booth so another call to the sheriff and we were back on the path of justice. It was clear my foe had to show up this time because otherwise, they would have cause to arrest him. Into the courtroom he strolled, with his identical twin beside him, also followed by his mother, who gave me the evilest eyeball ever.

When it was our turn on the agenda, my opponent began to argue his case until the judge stopped him cold, telling him the judgment was served a year ago and the only issue at hand was when was he going to pay the gentleman to his left the $150 judgment and $160 court and sheriff fees accumulated to date? When the mother stood up, the ornery retired judge (he was sitting in for the day) told her to sit down and told “my friend” not to leave the courtroom without paying me. The response was something like, “You can’t do that, I want to call my lawyer." The judge nodded and said that would not be a problem, but reminded him not to leave the courtroom and said, “that goes for you too," pointing at me with a subtle wink.

Awhile later, the lawyer entered the courtroom and we all waited our turn to approach the judge. The lawyer’s first words were to the effect of, “With all due respect your honor, you can’t do that." The judge looked at him and then at “my friend” and said, “I’ve been at this more years than you’ve been on this planet, and I know what I can and can’t do, and you’re right. However, I am here to tell you that if your client does not pay this man in 30 days, I will issue a warrant for his arrest. Understand?”

“Yes sir,” was the reply, and the two of them walked away. I thanked the judge and he gave me a head bow and another small wink. He was my own “Judge Judy," handing out his style of cowboy justice.

On the 30th day after that ruling, “my friend” came into my office, laid the $310 cash in front of me and said, “I can’t be bothered with this anymore” and stalked out.

Was justice served, yes. Was it the pragmatic thing to do or worth the effort? That is more to the point of the original conundrum raised here in this column.

Sometimes, it is better to let go, without it mattering about right and wrong. That has been a very hard thing for me to do over my many years in business and in life.

It was an empty victory. I knew I was right from the start and didn’t need vindication or proof. I can also say with certainty that it wasn’t worth the effort for $150, or the emotional stress.

I try and learn from life and from lessons like this, but last week was reminded what a very slow learner is and that perhaps I value integrity more than pragmatism or common sense.

With most of my trusted team telling me to “let it go," it looks like I march on.

What is wrong with me?

Turn the Page. Peace out; Reade

Reade Brower can be reached at:

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