HENRY ROLLINS: born 2.13.61
Originally published February 13, 2015.
I was driving in my car after a conversation with someone about my inability to handle conflict. Conflict avoidance is my natural state. Any conflict is difficult for me. Not only do I not fight with people who are important to me, I almost never push back on anyone. I frequently get taken advantage of at work. I rarely send the wrong order back at a restaurant. In high school, I was shaken down at an airport by a Hare Krishna who just kept demanding I take money out of my wallet and give it to him as a "donation to his religion" - giving him money over and over was easier for me than simply saying “no”. So, as I was driving I heard an audio clip of Mike Tyson being interviewed. The interviewed casually dropped a reference to Tyson’s rape conviction when it was inappropriate. Feeling humiliated, Tyson got angry. Without turning the conflict physical, Tyson cussed the interviewer out. His reaction was inappropriate and immature and driven by anger, and yet I felt momentarily envious. Envious of his ability to not shy away from a conflict. Envious of the way he immediately defended himself without concern over repercussion or consequence. Envious that in a moment of conflict, Tyson’s first regard was for himself. That kind of thinking is totally foreign to me, and I mentioned it to my wife when I got home. I wondered why I couldn’t be more like Mike Tyson. In a similar situation, I wouldn’t be afraid of the interviewer physically. There would be no consequences to confronting the interviewer, yet I knew I would never do it. My wife pointed out that certain types of people register any conflict as a potential for harm, and that made sense. Perceiving conflict as a vague sense of undefinable harm is really accurate; I’m not sure what could hurt me, but it always feels like a possibility. Beyond the realm of logic, beyond the realm of possibility. And that vague, undefinable sense strips me of any strength.