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Rules for Life

“It’s not worth it”

I do not enjoy writing extremely serious pieces, but my hope is that this will stick in your mind and possibly save your life someday. As men, we believe it’s important for us to maintain “alpha” status, show our strength, and puff out our chests when dealing with difficult situations. We feel the urge deep in our gut, as it’s biologically programmed into us to act this way (another lesson for another day). Although I strongly believe in being an alpha and taking no shit from just about anyone, I’m going to throw a bit of a curveball here when I tell you that sometimes you should abandon the urge to be tough and instead you should just let it go.

Why, you ask? Why let someone think they’re getting one over on you? Why let them disrespect you? Why walk away without standing your ground? Quite simply, it is not worth it. Most fights, probably 99.9999% of all opportunities you’ll have to fight in your lifetime, aren’t going to be worth it. This is all due to the potential consequences of these fights.

You’ll always have two choices:

1) stay and engage or

2) walk away and continue on with your life with no changes.

I’d bet that the vast majority of people that get into trouble wish they had the opportunity to choose option #2 after seeing how altercations can dramatically alter their future.

When considering whether or not to engage a threat, you must always consider the worst possible outcome of this encounter. It’s just like any other decision… you must always consider “what’s the worst that can happen”, and then you must weigh the risk and reward. If you’re flying solo, it could end up with you being killed, paralyzed, hurt badly or robbed. When you’re with family, friends or your girl, you risk the same things happening to those very loved ones. You’re putting their well-being in jeopardy by engaging in what could be a life or death situation.

On the flip side, you may not always end up being the victim. In other scenarios, you could end up knocking someone out, killing or paralyzing them, with which you could end up in jail on assault charges, or bankrupt due to a massive lawsuit against you. There’s a good chance you’ll lose your job. Your personal relationships will suffer. You’ll be a slave to whatever lawsuits you’re facing, working tirelessly just to pay off your debt. On top of this, you’ll also have to live with that guilt on your conscience forever. Even worse, you could up playing “who dropped the soap” with Bubba in the state penitentiary.

Things can escalate quickly in the heat of the moment, and people DO senselessly die in street fights and street encounters. A gun gets pulled and someone gets shot. A person pulls a knife and stabs a victim. A sucker punch is thrown and the recipient falls backward and smashes their head on the cement, paralyzing or killing them. If you decide to engage, make sure you’re prepared to lose everything.

Think it sounds far-fetched? Take this example, which has stayed with me all of my adult life. In 2009, two men were walking in the NYC streets when they accidentally bumped into each other on the steps of the post office on 33rd street and 8th avenue. This happened in broad daylight, in front of lots of people walking near one of the city’s biggest landmarks, Madison Square Garden. It also happens to be an area with heavy surveillance, meaning cameras on every corner. Feel safe yet? After bumping into each other, the men had two basic choices:

1- say “sorry” and keep walking

2- escalate the situation and fight over the bump

Unfortunately, the men chose option two and decided to duke it out in front of the James A. Farley post office. According to eyewitnesses, they bumped into each other, turned around, exchanged words, and took on fighting stances. The assailant pulled a knife and stabbed the victim in the chest, killing him. The assailant went on the run from authorities and ended up killing himself in an ex-girlfriend’s bathroom.

Two grown men, with their entire future ahead of them, dead because they were too proud to keep walking. Was it worth it? Absolutely not. Did they regret it? Most likely. Did other people suffer due to their poor choice? Absolutely. I’m sure their families never recovered from this shocking and tragic turn of events.

As you grow into your adult form, it’s important to gain an understanding of what you’re willing to fight for, and what you’re willing to let go. If you do this, you won’t leave your fate up to your impulse reactions, but instead you’ll take a moment to think things through before taking action. In what scenarios are you willing to engage and potentially fight? It definitely shouldn’t be words, as words can be ignored. As they used to tell children “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”. It shouldn’t be trivial, such as regarding a spot in a line or a position on the road, as this will have no impact on your life in the grand scheme of things. If it comes to respect, there is a fine line there and that indeed may be worth fighting for in certain situations, such as some stranger grabbing your girlfriend’s ass at a bar. I recommend discussing this scenario with your partner so you both have an understanding of what you’d do if this were to happen.

In my opinion, the only scenario in which you should always engage with a threat and take real action is the one in which you or a loved one are physically in danger. Other than that, it’s probably best to continue on your way and walk away. Sometimes, it won’t be easy. There may be the drunk asshole at the bar that says something rude to your girlfriend. It could be the person in the street that bumps into you while you’re walking. On the road, it may be the truck that cuts you off abruptly. These threats will come in various forms, and it’s important for you to train yourself on how to react so that your impulses don’t put you in a life threatening situation. When it comes to your risking life in this crazy world, it’s just not worth it.

Stay smart.

⁃ Your Big Bro

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