Posted by: Kevin | December 14, 2006

A Little Brother’s Take on Anger in the Middle East

I love my older brother now, but that wasn’t always the case.  There was a time, when we were kids, that he was a real prick.  He was 2½ years older than me and would take advantage of his larger size and greater strength.  What got me isn’t so much that he was hurting me, but that I couldn’t do anything back to him.

As I got a little older, the dynamic started to change and he was slow to pick up on it.  He could still hurt me a lot more than I could hurt him, but he was no longer invulnerable.  I can still remember the first time I really got him.  We shared a bunk bed and he was in the top bunk.  I can’t remember what he did to piss me off but I remember what I did about it.  I kicked the top bunk off its support so that it, and my brother, came crashing down.  Miraculously, I wasn’t crushed.  Better still, my brother’s hand was cut open and bleeding.  Victory was mine.  Love my brother or not, I still look back on that and feel nothing but triumph.

Sadly, we were forced to switch bunks after that, so there would be no repeat performances.  Fortunately, my brother would never risk the top bunk crashing down on him.  So I never found myself on the receiving end either.  Otherwise, life continued on as before.  My brother kept picking on me and there was very little I could do about it.

This finally came to an end a few years later.  I was 13 or 14, I don’t remember what exactly.  My brother liked to put me in full nelsons because I wasn’t yet strong enough to break free and it amused him to torture me this way.  Then I figured out how to get him.  I let my head slump forward and then snapped it back as hard and fast as I could, right into his chin.  I did it twice.

His chin was harder than the back of my skull, so it hurt like hell.  But the look of surprise and pain on his face, the way he let go like he’d been shot, that was worth any price.  I’d have taken a cracked skull for that any day back then.  He never physically abused me again after that, which was also worth any price.

What’s the point of this lengthy personal reflection?  When you keep someone down long enough, they will go to any length, pay any price to get you.  That doesn’t make their complaint right, it doesn’t justify their worldview or excuse their tactics.  I’m not making a moral judgment.  I’m just trying to cast their thinking into terms I can understand and draw a lesson from it.  The lesson is this.  If you’re going to make a habit of pissing off someone weaker than you, then make damn sure they can’t get you back. 

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Responses

  1. “If you’re going to make a habit of pissing off someone weaker than you, then make damn sure they can’t get you back. ”

    I think any decent person takes this to mean that one should not go around hurting people in the first place. You really don’t have to be “overly” moral to hold this view. Do you agree? I mean, you can’t actually be saying that your brother SHOULD HAVE physically crippled you in some way that you couldn’t fight back anymore so he could continue to hurt you.

  2. I suppose this wasn’t the clearest post I’ve ever written. There’s two ways to look at it. The first and most obvious is that people and countries shouldn’t go around deliberately hurting others. The second, which sums up my feelings on Iraq, is this. If you’re going to insist on being a bully as a nation, then you damn well better be an effective one. Otherwise you end up inflicting more pain and suffering on both parties.

    The second part doesn’t apply as much to people since little kids have a way of growing up, or at least getting lawyers.

    To avoid any misunderstanding. I think there are going to be instances where the US has to take the bully route. I don’t think Iraq was one of those instances. Meaning we screwed up twice over. Once in deciding to bully and again in not doing a good enough job of it.

    Oh and I’m not interested in making this a lengthy discussion on the long and tortured history of US involvement in Iraq and the Middle East. I am aware of the history and know it was ugly well before 2003.

  3. Probably shouldnt own up to this but my sister was 4 years older than me and used to beat the crap out of me as she was going through her teen angst. I forget how old I was – 12 I guess but it took just one hit from me to fix it and i felt horribly guilty as she went off howling to my dad who said it was about time. I just wanted it to stop and we were good after that. I felt no need for further revenge.

    I went to Cambodia a few years ago and if there is a country that should hate westerners its them since we killed probably a million of them and nobody told them why. . But they dont – very very nice people. Yet there are people in some cultures who are still hating hundreds or even thousands of years later.

  4. 4 years older is 4 years older, no shame in that. My brother and I have been good ever since I finally got him, in fact we’re really close now. Amazing how much more enjoyable sibling rivally is when it becomes a friendly rivalry.

    As for Cambodia, this probably doesn’t speak well of me but I have an easier time understanding angry arabs than peaceful Cambodians, even if I admire the Cambodian attitude more.


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