Sunday, June 19, 2011


You live in a neighborhood where your neighbors are, uniformly, believers in a different religion. That's "religion" singular. No diversity in their faiths. Your neighbor is convinced that you have altered the plot plans set forth in your deed. He accuses you of claiming too much land. You attempt to explain that, many years ago, this issue was raised by his predecessor and went to arbitration. Your proclaimed real estate boundaries were vindicated. They were affirmed. Your neighbor disagrees, vehemently and violently. He attacks you and a horrific fight ensues. You kick his butt, decisively, and you view the matter as settled. But, defeat is non-digestible to your neighbor. Too humiliating. His emotions boil over. His mistrust and dislike for you intensifies. Now, he is driven by hatred. Unrestrained. A helluva situation in which to expect two neighbors to put aside their differences and live peacefully, side by side. You try to talk with him. Let's accept each other for what we are, and call it a truce. He will have none of it.

Now, all the other residents join the dispute. They unequivocally agree with your neighbor. They are united by the common denominator of hatred of you. The next attack will significantly increase the odds against you. Suddenly, the stakes are not just land, but rather, survival. The readily acknowledged position of the neighborhood is not to merely take away your land, but also, to kill you. They will use deadly force, justifying your relying on same for self defense. You remember that, years ago, you had been in a situation where you were very late to stand up to a bully. That won't happen again.

You continue to press for a dialogue with those around you with two pre-conditions: you all agree to recognize each other's existence, and, that they forswear their intent to kill you. This proffer is rejected out of hand. How then, you ask yourself, can you negotiate with people who refuse to negotiate. You want to discuss compromise, but the word is an anathema to them. Your only alternative is to punch back when punched, stay alert and still cling to the hope that the table of discussion and compromise shall one day be embraced as the only way to even begin to resolve this complicated scenario.

But, you won't be unresponsive to bullying.

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