February 23

I learned long ago never to
wrestle with a pig.  You get dirty,
and besides, the pig likes it.

Cyrus Ching


Today's Meditation:

There are so many ways that I can think of this image, but the one that leaps to mind every time I read these words is the idea of arguing with someone who's done something hurtful to try to get them to see how damaging their actions are.  In my experience, people who are willing to hurt others aren't usually interested in knowing just what kind of harm they've done--they want to continue to feel the self-righteousness that allowed them to do something mean and inconsiderate in the first place.

I see the idea of wrestling with a pig as similar to a conflict with just such a person.  These people will reduce logic to a shambles, because logic doesn't matter to them.  They'll stand there and say "So?" when you point out just how much damage they've caused.  Just like wrestling with a pig, we can spend tons of energy trying to reason with such people, never reaching any sort of satisfactory conclusion.  And as they watch you try to reason with them, they're enjoying the discomfort you're experiencing because of their unwillingness to respond to logic.

Am I calling such people pigs?  I don't know--I certainly wouldn't call anyone a pig in the generally negative way we tend to use the term.  But I do know that the analogy fits--expending lots of energy to accomplish the unaccomplishable (I know--it's not really a word), and adding to the enjoyment of someone else who doesn't really deserve to be enjoying a situation.  So I don't do it any more.  It's called "choosing your battles," and some types of battles simply aren't worth choosing.  If you need a pig to do something, go find someone who knows how to make pigs do things, for you don't necessarily need to do everything yourself.  And don't give the pigs the enjoyment of watching you get yourself dirty due to frustration and annoyance.  Let the pigs be pigs, and choose more logical battles.

Questions to consider:

What makes us tend to take on tasks that aren't easily accomplished, especially where other people are concerned?

Why do we tend to continue to wrestle with pigs, even when we've seen that it doesn't really work at all?

What are some options that we could take instead of wrestling with pigs?  Who could help us out with the pig?

For further thought:

A more peaceful way to live is to decide consciously which battles are worth fighting and which are better left alone.  Is it really important that you confront someone simply because he or she has made a minor mistake? Does a small scratch on your car really warrant a suit in small claims court?  These and thousands of other small things are what many people spend their lives fighting about.  If you don't want to "sweat the small stuff," it's critical that you choose your battles wisely.

Richard Carlson


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