I live amongst a small building community of really great people. And, for the record, I use community in the greatest sense of the word – there is a real sense of fellowship that exists here. We all know each other’s names and families. We cook together. We eat together. We exercise together. We party together. We watch each other kids. Each other’s dogs. Each other’s backs.
That, of course, is not to say nirvana reigns supreme. As is the case with any small knit community, a lot of personal business ends up being public knowledge. For lack of a better way to put it, grills are gotten up in. (Yo.) And yes, on occasion, personalities clash.
But up until recently, those clashes were always handled with respect. The foundation of neighborliness was not eroded by differences of opinion or preference.
Notice that I said up until recently? That’s because as of late, things have shifted. To be specific (in a general kind of a way), a rift between two neighbors has taken seed in our community and begun to create a division. All kinds of delightful things have been unfolding … Name calling. Side taking. Clique forming. And, most fun of all, an underlying sense of aggression, of both the passive and active varieties, that has everyone walking on eggshells.
And I do mean everyone. Because aggressive behavior doesn’t just affect the parties directly involved. It’s much more far reaching than that. Aggression blows a lot hot air and does so at high velocities. And, as it is a simple fact that you can’t be in a hurricane without getting your hair mussed up, similarly, you can’t be in the presence of openly exerted aggression without your molecules getting blown into a state of disarray. Aggression is so incredibly destructive.
Unless you happen to be a peacock.
Have you ever stopped to consider what a peacock does when feeling aggressive or threatened? (Let me give you a hint. It does the exact opposite of what pretty much the rest of us do.)
It shows its splendor.
In response to feelings of upset, the peacock spreads its feathers and shares with the world how beautiful it can be. It’s the only creature on the planet I can think of that does that. Confronted with upset, the rest of us tend to show how ugly we can be. We turn ferocious and lash out. Either with thoughts, words, subversive actions, or worst of all, actual physical violence.
The peacock, however, makes its point known and its authority felt without any of that poppycock. It has mastered the ability to take a stance without starting a fight.
When the need to assert itself arises, my beloved peacock simply reminds everyone in the vicinity that it is, in and of its own right, a magnificent creature worthy of the space it occupies on the planet. As, by the way, are we all.
And to that point, I have to believe that somewhere in our magnificence lies the peacockian potential to assert ourselves without being ugly about it. To take the stands we need to take and make the points we need to make, but do so without the need to huff and puff and blow each other’s mental and emotional houses down.
Self assurance is beautiful. Simple human kindness is beautiful. Mutual respect is beautiful. Disagreeing without being disagreeable is beautiful.
These are behaviors we can just as easily fan out and put on display for the world to see when pushed against our own walls. And just imagine the doors that might open if only we would.