Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
On Not Hating Despicable People

I rarely get angry anymore. Lewis B. Puller, Junior's Pulitzer Prize winning autobiography "Fortunate Son" was a life saving education for me as it described his decades long struggle with combat wound induced alcoholism and the need to avoid being HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I was serving in the military when I read it and encountering some extremely stressful situations. Avoiding HALT kept me from doing lasting damage to myself. I would add Dehydrated if it didn't screw up the acronym, but I suppose that you could tuck that in under the Hungry category. I followed this advice so well that my low thyroid condition escaped notice for several years until it became quite critical.

Another aspect of my avoidance of anger in general and the hatred it spawns is due to an experience my senior year in college when I shared a small class with an Iranian student. At the time, I had been accepted into Aviation Officers Candidate School with the US Navy and fully intended to become a Naval Flight Officer. He was going to school on a scholarship from the government of Iran and would join their military upon his return. We openly discussed the likelihood of a future encounter between my jet and his surface to air missile battery and accepted that as the nature of the world. We were gentlemen who respected each other and would regret the necessity of killing each other on some future date, but we felt no need to bring hatred into the execution of our military duties. Circumstances never required that encounter to come about, but the civil detachment we shared gave me perspective throughout my military career.

My friend Michael Totten announced today that he hates certain despicable people. I can understand his emotion, but do not want to allow my emotions to enter into the situation. I could say that the difference is that I believe that investing in anger prevents me from investing in solutions, but that would be a lie. The truth is that allowing anger to control my agenda prevents me from making an accurate assessment of the facts of the situation. The truth is that getting angry disturbs my aim, even if my form of attack these days is with a loaded question. I respect Michael's integrity and skill with words, but I want them to be accurate and on target. Let the idiots make angry mistakes. Leave hatred to the obdurate.
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