Dude, Take an Aggressive Pill

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“Alright, everybody, let’s get intentional and focused with our ludonarrative dissonance using the frustration-aggression theory and careful, calculated, responsible actions…”

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…is an example of a sentence I would construct using words I just learned. But it’s also the main point to this blog: let’s all get aggressive

Understand that I am all about world peace. I’m all about solving problems of homelessness, starvation, world hunger, human rights, and so on. But perhaps lately we’ve gotten a little soft in areas we shouldn’t and hard on topics that don’t matter, like why some believe Miley Cyrus is the Pied Piper of today’s youth. Compare her videos to issues like injustice for racial minorities in our court systems and, well, it kind of feels like a waste of a good argument.

You see, many groups believe that fighting is a bad thing. They are the kind of groups that say, “Don’t fight. If you want to fight, either take up kickboxing or download some Yani and chill out.” Fighting sucks, there’s no question there, but it’s not quite avoidable. Fighting is inevitable. So, if we gotta do it, let’s do it right. 

A really smart guy by the name of Leonard Berkowitz started a conversation about aggression in the 70’s that began to shed some light on how to fight. His “revised frustration-aggression theory” said this: We get frustrated. Then we get angry. Our anger leads to aggression

Frustration –> Anger –> Aggression

Where does our frustration come from? It comes from a gap between what we expect and what we attain. When we don’t get what we expect, we get grumpy. Our grumpy becomes “hacked off.” When we get “hacked off,” heads roll.

Our movies, stories, and games have reflected this process for centuries. Remember in Hamlet when everybody died trying to fight for the throne (using buckets-o-blood in the process)? Remember when the Judeo-Christian God burned to death the whole city of Sodom after they refused to stop being so trashy? Remember when Don Vito Corleone had that horse head tossed in that guy’s bed? Or remember when in the 60’s the U.S. loaded up a boat full of soldiers and sailed on down to Cuba only to get caught with their pants around their ankles? 

Yeah, those times involved people getting hacked and heads rolling.


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Aggression is, in itself, not a bad thing. It has been used to do some powerful things for the right reasons. Ask Dietrich Bohnhoeffer who tried to kill Hitler in order to stop the injustice done to Jews. Ask “The Tank Man” who stopped four Chinese tanks in Tianabmen Square by standing in their way. Or ask Martin Luther King Jr. about the nonviolent protests that stood up to racial inequality. These stories are examples of people still being aggressive, yet these people did so in a radically helpful way. These stories share these two things in common:

1) The leaders were in control of their actions and understood their reason for acting.

2) Their reason for acting was to stand up against injustice.

Perhaps what we need is not a world of nonaggressive people. Perhaps what we need is a world of carefully aggressive people who stand up against injustice. Aggression can be so very useful if we understand it in this way:

Injustice frustrates me. This frustration makes me angry. I want to stop injustice.

And we can indeed stop injustice if we make a stand. Understand the frustration-aggression theory, we start channeling our aggression by changing our expectations. We should expect people who are different than us to have rights, freedoms, and justice. When they are not offered those things, we are in the right spot to get upset about the right things. It also starts with the small actions such as, “It isn’t fair for my child to make fun of your child; my child is going to be disciplined.” We then move on to the big things: “It is about time we stop discrimination against minority classes and we start letting them have the chance to be a part of this society; I am going to stand up to social injustice.” Anger and aggression is good, when it is controlled and directed towards the right things. 

Now if only I can justify cussing at that person who cuts me off in traffic…

KB

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This Family We Live With and Love… Dear God…

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“Oh dear God, my family.”

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How many times has this or something like it been your description of your family? Dysfunctional. Confusing. Psychotic. Loud. Insane. Crazy. Someone once told me that Dr. Carl Whitaker, family counseling theorist, once said, “The craziest thing to do is be a part of a family.”

Well said, old guy.

Why are we so crazy? Perhaps it has something to do with being forced to live with certain people for the rest of your life. There is this strange thing that exists, a thing we can neither feel nor touch, that webs family members together no matter where they exist in the world. We cannot cut our ties with family, no matter how hard we try. Families consist of pesky little people who are always budding up in your business or psyche somehow, someway. They are the cause of so many headaches and problems. As any good therapist would put it, “Every problem is because of mom’s nagging or dad’s ignorance – which one do you want to blame today?”

Since we can’t shake them, we just have to learn to live with them in our lives. Some do this smoother than others but every family on earth is cluttered with disastrous parenting, annoying children, frustrating teenagers, and that crazy aunt or uncle that everyone suspects might be a “closet-crazy.” We’ve all got our less-than-pristine versions of ourselves stowed away in some embarrassing family story, a story sure to be retold at Christmas. Yet, year after year, we walk into the same trap: we go back to family! Are we crazy? What’s wrong with us!? Go back to family? – those people are nuts!

But there must be something that makes us want to go back. Perhaps the reason we love our family lies in these stories:

From PrettySmartBlog: “Last night I meant to post about the Dad and Daughter who sat at the bar in Starbucks. There was just something really… beautiful about it, as simple as it was. She was sipping cocoa and doing homework. He was drinking something, no doubt, stronger than cocoa and helping. She couldn’t have been more than 9 and they both smiled and laughed as they got through her work together.”

From blogger Jess Gardner on her blog, Diary of an Englishman: “This is Daymon [picture].  He is my little brother.  And also a complete stud…He’s been doing cross country this year and with a new coach and a freshman that is nearly as fast as him, it has been quite the experience.  He’s done brilliant though and today placed 13th at districts!  Daymon, you’re just the coolest.”

From blogger Art Edison, blogger of Edison Leatherworks: “Sometime a few hours after Emily [my daughter] was born, I remember talking to my dad on the phone. The only description that I was able to give him after well over a day with no sleep was that she had 10 fingers and 10 toes. I’m sure that I also told him that she was beautiful.”

You see, within their description of family lies a moment of beauty and of pride. They see past the dysfunction within their family (and it is most surely there) and find a beautiful gem that they are proud of. They are proud of their daughter, doing homework in a Starbucks. They are proud of their brother for winning a race. They are proud of the 20 digits on their newborn’s appendages. They are proud of the beautiful things within their family. The dysfunction just doesn’t matter.

Dysfunction comes with the territory of being in a family. Being in a family does not mean we ever get to ask for no dysfunction. That’s just unrealistic! Sometimes, living cohesively means deliberately looking at the beautiful things in your family and being proud of those things rather than complaining about the dysfunction. If we mean to live cohesively as families, and if we mean to overcome the dysfunction that comes with being in a family, we must look at something other than dysfunction. The more dysfunction we look at, the more dysfunction we will get. The more we look at something to be proud of in our families, the more pride we will feel. 

I’m proud of my family’s heritage. I’m proud of the value we place on working hard. I’m proud of the high commitment my family has for one another. Are we kind of a mess? Sure. But who isn’t? 

What about you? What are you proud of?

KB

Everyday Superhero – reblog

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This story (above) is for those families with fears – meaning all of us.

The wisdom some children unwittingly possess is scary, especially when you are on the receiving end of some of that wisdom! This story entitled “Everyday Superhero,” written by fellow blogger akbutler, is a beautiful story about how children can impact our lives in just a few short words. The lesson to take away, for me, is this: do not neglect the words of a kid. As simple-spoken as they may be, children understand our adult world better than we adults do, sometimes. Oh, and let’s not forget to confront our fears. “Wal-mart, here I come!”

Try Defying Gravity

It was just an ordinary conversation.

Howie and I were in the car.  It was just the two of us, on our way home from working at the sensory gym.  As is our usual routine, Tim picked up the other two boys and took them home for dinner and Howie stayed with me to finish his homework and play.

While driving, I started talking about the new skating rink that opened up in our town and asked him if he thought he’d like to take lessons.

“Oh yes!” he said excitedly.

“They have special lesson times set aside for kids with sensory issues.  Do you think you’d like that?”

We haven’t had the whole “autism” talk yet.  Or the partial talk.  Or whatever it will end up being.  For now, we’re at “sensory issues”.  Because for Howie, that’s the most tangible and easiest for him to understand, both…

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Back to the Blog

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Hello Readers,

It’s me again. Bet you didn’t expect to see me blogging again, did you?

For those of you unfamiliar with my past writing exploits, I, Kyle R. Bullock, used to maintain a blog entitled “At Wit’s End” which featured thoughts from my week and so forth. After two strong years of blogging, I decided to leave the virtual writing space and pursue other writing endeavors. Now, here I am, stumbling my way back onto the blogosphere, a little less crotchety and with a little more facial hair.

Now don’t get too disappointed if you were a fan of the last blog and think I’ve turned too soft. I’ve got enough “crusty curmudgeon” in me to satisfy your interests. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned in the two years I’ve been on blog-hiatus, it’s that I need to,

a) shut up more and

b) listen.

I, in no way, feel I am old enough or wise enough to write anything spiritually or emotionally riveting. But there are three things I know I can write about because they are the three things that have stayed constant in my life the past couple of years, even when the skies went black as coal for me. They are life, love, and family.

In the past two years, I’ve written a total of three full-length plays, one one-act play, a book, and a slew of poetry. I’ve put my nose deep within the books and come out knowing less than when I went in. I found a girl, fell in love, and now I’m going to marry her. Things aren’t bad. That doesn’t mean they have always been breezy, and that doesn’t mean they always will be breezy either. It just means that today, life ain’t bad.

But it doesn’t really matter if circumstances are crummy or not. You still got life. You still got love, or at least to choice to love. And you still got family, biological or otherwise. Now, I reckon, and this is just what I reckon, but perhaps those are qualities that are worth writing about… for now anyways.

As for all those things I wrote these past couple of years, don’t worry, I plan to share them with all of you. In fact, this site is designed to be a “central station” of sorts for my writing. In the coming months, you’ll be seeing books, plays, poetry, and other great things pop up on this site. I’ll be sure to link them all to the appropriate places. You’ll be seeing some of my friends’ works on here from time to time, too. They have been part of the family that has kept me going, and their stuff is worth getting.

In the meantime, follow my blog and prepare for more content in the coming weeks! And most importantly, friends, love to live life.

KB