Fight or Flight
Fight or Flight? Fight or Flight? To be honest I never regarded it as anything more than a cliche , a penny saved is a penny earned, don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today, good things come in small packages….yada, yada, yada.
However in retrospect I realize that fight or flight has been my unspoken mantra throughout my 40 years. Subconsciously I have been making this decision in everything I do. It was written in my DNA and by lesson and by code I had no other choice.
In truth Fight or flight is a valid scientific term that defines the active physiological response one has when faced with stress. The basic premise is that men instinctively are the fighters due to an inherent desire to be aggressive and protective, while women who are led more by emotion are more likely to flee. Interestingly enough when looking at real life scenarios women have historically been the one's who react to stress with the strength of a mother lioness protecting her cub. But men, well judging by the amount of unenforceable child support orders there are out there, are the ones that run.
We all are faced with making thousands of decisions throughout a lifetime. They range from the trivial,what to have for dinner, the more pressing, where should I go to college and the ultimate question of, what do I want my life to be?
Up until about the age of 18, we are afforded somewhat of a free ride. We have the luxury of blaming our parents for any hiccups along the way. It's "their"fault! We cannot wait for the day to get out from under their so called dictatorship in order to spread our wings and show them how it's really done. But somewhere along the way when we no longer have this unconditional scapegoat, the harsh reality hits us. Every move we make, every "i" we dot every "t"we cross becomes our sole responsibility. We are now accountable beings and the choices and actions we take will impact others besides our previously narcissistic selves. It is at this point whereupon the words…fight or flight truly manifest themselves.
We are all familiar with people who fall into these two categories. It's not really that hard to distinguish. The fighters are the one's who have light in their eyes, their faces are roadmaps of their determination. They walk with a purposeful gait and their optimism for a better tomorrow is evidenced simply by the fact they keep moving cautiously forward. A fighter is brave enough to show you they can be fragile but possess the inner strength of Zeus.
Conversely those that are inclined to flee are even easier to spot. Their eyes are dead, their faces are vacant of depth and they reflect no spirit. Yet they are a contradiction in terms. While they project an air of arrogance to the outside world, in reality they are weak and lacking conviction and thus crumble at the first sign of strife.
Ironically something positive results from the less than honorable actions of someone who runs. Its the creation of countless fighters, one of which I am proud to say I have become.
I have had textbook examples of both. My mom is a fighter, raised in a working class Italian American home, she learned the value of integrity, honor and perseverance. A young widow left with 5 young children to raise was merely the first of many battles where she showed up fully armored ready to take on the world. Many of my friends possess this herculean strength. The range from women who are the warriors on the homefront to those who have overcome physical and personal adversity.
On the other side of the spectrum fall individuals like my ex husband. He opted to flee his wife and newborn son at the first sign of discomfort. In fact his repeated cowardly responses to everyday life hurdles have earned him more frequent flier miles on Air Spineless than 10 non stop trips around the world. He too surrounded himself with questionable and self serving individuals. Like attracts like.
It can be agreed that human beings are the only breathing creatures that have choices, and for whom actions are not reflexes. If we fight, we are doing it out of courage, not out of a sense of self preservation like animals. If we flee, that is a conscious choice balancing the consequences. There is moral weight to our actions, unlike those of animals. That is why humans are God's most magnificent, and tortured, creations….
Pathetically enough when a father abandons his offspring and refuses to pay legally mandated child support, there are actual groups available whose sole motivation is to unearth loopholes so they don't have to deal with this "injustice" of the judicial system. These men (ahem) maintain that the system "exploits them" and argue that why should I support my wife, or the mother of my child financially. The only way to justify their actions is by taking the innocent minor completely out of the equation. Personally I have never met a child under ten who could feed, clothe, put a roof over their head and administer proper medical and security care without third party assistance. Therefore it is quite obvious that the parent who remained, the mother, must administer and pursue the proper distribution of the funds until the child is of legal age. According to a recent study of Pennsylvania Family Courts 89.9% of single parents left to battle the Goliath of the court system that must guarantee that shelter, food and medical care are available are women. Statistics also show that the majority of times when there is a single parent, the mother is the one left working 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet on top of being the main emotional provider for the children. The father on the other hand is off living the life of Reilly. I am still constantly amazed at the misogynistic view that permeates public perception, that the women always makes out the best in a divorce. Perhaps when it comes to certain alimony cases this may be the truth. However the manner with which courts themselves and their governing bodies operate are an example of a "flee" mentality when children rights are at stake.
Of course there are abuses and exceptions on both sides and you have your share of decent and amoral men and women. However when it comes to distinguishing those that fall into the category of fighters from those who flee the facts do not lie.
There are indeed many examples of fighters, just visit a childrens hospital ward, an army base, the legal immigrant who won't take no for an answer until they have bread on the table for their equally dedicated family. Yet sadly we are blind to these everyday heroes because the reality is the negative acts are the ones who seem to be rewarded.
Society is now more concerned with not laying blame or offending any one specific group. We are a politically correct society of apologist. Amazingly instead of using the great gift of freedom of choice provided to us when we leave our parents homes, we opt to revert back to the carte blanche excuses we had while still living under their roof. No responsibility, no honor, no integrity…but hey it's ok because it's always someone else's fault.
Despite this downward spiraling trend. I remain optimistic and find comfort with the knowledge that by raising my son honorably; I am creating at least one more member of society whose actions will make a positive difference. He will never take the easy road, he will earn what comes to him and finally he will like what he sees when he looks in the mirror.
Contrary to popular thought it does not take a village to create a productive and positive society, it takes a fighter.