Are you familiar with the phrase, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”? It’s been around a hell of a long time. It was first written by Alexander Pope, in his poem, “An Essay on Criticism”. Born in London in 1688, Pope was an 18th-century poet best known for both his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer.
More recently (1940), “Fools Rush In” was a popular song, written by Johnny Mercer and recorded by a host of singing sensations including Frank Sinatra.
And now, if I’m guessing correctly, you’re sitting there wondering why I’m asking. And why wouldn’t you? It’s kind of a weird question, coming right out of the blue.
I’m asking, because it’s the first thing that popped into my head when I read the WordPress Daily Prompt yesterday: “When faced with confrontation, do you head for the hills or walk straight in? Was there ever a time you wished you’d had the opposite reaction?”
You know. When you act first and think later.
There you are. Minding your own business. All of a sudden someone says something, or does something you don’t care for. Or don’t agree with. Or seems unfair. Unjustified. Stupid. Discriminatory. Inflammatory. And you see red. Your eyeballs start to sweat. You feel the adrenalin coursing through your body. Your skin starts to prickle. Your scalp starts to tingle. And the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight out like tiny, little antennae.
What do you do? How do you react?
Are you the type who can just turn the other cheek? Take a deep breath and ignore the whole thing. Take off before someone gets hurt. Or do you just rear up, get right in their face, bare your teeth and snap?
“What’d you say???????????”
In one of my previous lives I worked with a woman who knew exactly what my hot buttons were. And she loved to press them. She’d say something mean or nasty or cruel. Purposely. Designed to get my goat. I remember I once asked her if she enjoyed pulling the wings off flies when she was a kid. She told me I wasn’t the first person who’d ever asked her that question.
She is the only person I can ever remember who got to me. Because I let her. Against my better judgement. But nonetheless, I let her. I fell for it. I bit. Not every time. But often enough. Because even once is really once too often.
Don’t get the wrong impression here. I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t yell at her. Or wave my finger under her nose. Or systematically drill it into her chest to emphasize some point I was trying to make. I didn’t get aggressive. Or ‘confrontational’. Even though being confrontational is exactly what she was doing. Hoping to get a rise out of me.
No, I just called her on it. Answered back. Reacted. When what I should have done was ignore it. Simply walked away. Or shrugged my shoulders. Or smiled sweetly.
What really pissed me off is, I knew exactly what she was up to. And why. Yet I couldn’t stop myself.
Until the day I did.
Which was the day she lost her power. The upper hand.
Injustice makes me crazy. Whether it’s directed at me, or others. And my immediate reaction is to react. To stop it. To join the cause and put an end to it. To start the cause, if necessary. A former business partner of mine used to call me Fransi Vigilante. I did once send George Bush an email chastising him for a ‘wrong’ I felt he’d committed. I disagreed with most everything he did, so it could have been anything. The subject line was “Shame on you”.
Does that make me confrontational? I don’t know. You tell me.