Whoever wins gets to read the Daily Mail!
From an early age, I could sense tension. Strange thing with tension it can bring an excitement. It is a shakeout from the norm, it is startling by its suddenness bringing with it a sharpening awareness.
On the streets there was often tension and it too brought an excitement, suddenly life that was like being flat in a book became pop-up. I could always find my way quickly to tension as it was an injection into life.
Today life was being the standard flat book until suddenly there was ‘pop-up’ tension in the library. Now here’s an observation. I see mostly men reading the daily papers in the library. They are mainly retired men or perhaps with a disability. Lots of them seem to know each other and swap the papers with each other. There are a few leading characters and one, in particular, goes round checking-in with people to see if they have the ‘Daily Mail’. If they do he wants it after them.
‘The one in particular’ was asking this other guy for the Daily Mail. The other guy said he was still reading it. An argument broke out. The other one rebuffed him and told him to stop always asking him for the paper. I knew that there was a history to this as I could hear,
The One In Particular (TOIP): “You always hold on to the paper when other people want to read it.”
The Other (TO): “I am tired of you coming trying to take the paper while I am reading it.”
TOIP: “Ok you want to go outside and sort this out?”
TO: “Ok then let’s go outside and sort this out.”
I look up from my computer and I know, like you do, that everyone is listening to this though appearing not. We have a real-life scene being played out here in the library. This is a great library for such a scene as it is large and the second floor is in a balcony style. These two are on the balcony floor as am I. Everyone is watching, thinking what is going to happen. We can watch them descend the stairs and walk across the next floor.
No one is moving so ‘action man’ here decides to spring up and run after them. I catch them on the stairs to the exit. I can hear them arguing one behind the other. I shout,
“Guys hold on! You can sort this out without fighting outside.”
They both stop and look back. I detect relief on both their faces that someone had intervened.
They begin to tells me their versions of the other. The noise brings library attendants to the scene. The attendant calmly asks them in turn to explain. I stand listening. She suggests they come off the stairs and talk on ground level. I leave them to it and return to the balcony. I am conscious that the audience notes my return. I take my seat and with them, I wonder who will emerge first from the below level stairs.
Ten minutes later TO returns, five minutes later TOIP returns. They go their separate ways and after a time they both make their way to one of their supporters.
Not long after I heard TOIP checking in with another user,
“Is that the Daily Mail, could I have it after you?”
The incident reminded me of the story told of Moses. Moses although Jewish had been adopted by the Egyptian Royal family who had enslaved his people. Moses, as he grew into manhood, struggled with the tension of being part of the privileged class while his people were oppressed. That tension began to express itself. He saw an Egyptian guard beat with a whip a fellow Jew, enraged he killed the guard.
A while later Moses overheard an argument between two Jews and intervened. He tried to calm them, they were brothers why fight? One of them then in anger retorted, “ Who are you to tell us, you killed that guard the other day.”
Moses unsettled by the knowledge that people knew what he did fled Egypt and spent the next 40 years preparing for his return.
There a number of thoughts provoked by this,
“Why do two men in their sixties maybe early seventies still believe the story of cowboy films, ‘Step outside and will sort it out’.
I mean why not just fight in the library why go outside to fight?
What would a physical fight do apart from ‘get the feelings out’? So who wins gets to keep the ‘Daily Mail’.
The two of them would have been arrested and at a point, further down the story both of them would see the folly of this by the consequences they would both pay.
Returning to Moses was the question for him why would you kill the guard but try to bring peace between your brothers?
Conflict is a part of our lives we have differing opinions and sometimes with them come strong emotions.
Later in the afternoon I had a conversation with my solicitor. In that conversation I had to be honest about my feelings if, as she had written, I would be charged £17 for every quick email I sent. I found that difficult to swallow. I was tempted to say nothing and just hold the feeling but why. I thought, “Gordon you got to be yourself and say even if it causes tension.” I too easily slip into thinking she’s the solicitor and I am the client.
As long as I am reasonable there should be no problem. We had the conversation and she understood. The honest conversation gives us a better basis to continue our professional relationship.
Every day may be several times a day there is a challenge for us and the other to express ourselves. We should be able to without the need to ‘Step outside’ or to step outside of respect. Truth be told we are still struggling to contain our often strong emotions and perhaps we have yet to see our own unreasonableness.