Defending Progress

August 21, 2006 § Leave a comment

The greatest gift in life is awareness, being cognizant of the available choices at each given moment. That is my definition of power. The ability to wield this human conscious with ownership and conviction, that to me expresses the highest qualities of mankind. The ability to reason; the ability to use our conscious mind to effect our destiny, this is the miraculous human mind in its finest hour.

As human beings we have the capacity to determine how we interact with the world around us. Being defensive prohibits personal development by impairing an individual’s ability to realize his/her relative position in personal relationships and society as a whole. A defensive personality corrupts what potentially is constructive and healthy criticism. As a result it distorts ones perception and may be a catalyst to the destruction of social relationships be it family, friends or the world at large.

On the other hand, the defensive aspect of our personalities is obviously there for a reason. It is quite natural for one to be defensive when being threatened. We set limits according to our levels of comfort for our relationships and general human interactions. Without these limits communication would be an exhausting and disorienting part of our human lives. For example, I work at a hospital, a very large trauma center. The personnel of this hospital like many others are overworked and understaffed. So when a very large and involved project appears, naturally people look to others for help. If I were busy with my own work trying desperately to meet a ridiculous deadline. I would not have time to show someone how to do a routine task that has nothing to do with me, my work or the department which I am responsible for…


For example, I have been approached to help people with things as simple as working a copier, during a time when I am working on a project where my employment depends entirely upon the project’s success. Do you think I would stop and help this person; of course not I must set a limit. We need limits, our limits are set by the defensive mechanisms of our personalities. This helps to provide a certain level of comfort so that we may function normally, having some control over our lives.

Therefore, it is not simply ‘defensive behavior’ (as mentioned previously) that prohibits personal development but an inappropriate behavior toward space, that impairs the realization of ones relative position in a local or global community. Communication is the basis of human interactions and in order for communication to be effective an individual must know how to make their defense appropriate.

For instance, when my eldest son became two I recall that he began to use the defensive part of his personality, however, due to his immaturity it was undeveloped, so nearly every response was he gave was, “No”. I would say to him,

“Sahajj… tuheb al-halaawa?” (do you want a sweet?)

And he would reply,

“La!” (No!)

followed by,

“And I said no I mean no!” (this he would say in English)

Not fully understanding what he meant… he eventually would take the cookie and walk away happily as if he had accomplished something remarkable. This is an extreme example of inappropriate defensive behavior.

However, in Jon Krakauer‘s, Into the Wild, the main character Chris McCandless a sincere humanitarian and accomplished high school student with outstanding grades and a noteworthy aptitude for academia announced to his parents that he wasn’t going to college he declared,

“Careers were demeaning. ‘twentieth-century inventions’, more of a liability than an asset, and I will do just fine without one…” (J. Krakauer)

Chris held a strong position until one day his mother sat him down and with a great motherly wisdom she suggested,

“Chris, if you really want to make a difference in the world, if you really want to help people who are less fortunate, get yourself some leverage first. Go to college, get a law degree, and then you’ll be able to have a real impact” (J. Krakauer)

Chris agreed and went on to college, this is an example where if Chris had continued blindly defending his position he would never have gone to college and gained the leverage to make the kind of contribution to humanity that would satisfy him. He would have impaired his realization of the bigger picture as a result of his defensive personality.

In short, our sense of place and purpose, property and ownership can be fully realized when we are receptive to our surroundings, human interactions and our deepest feelings. Defensiveness is natural, however the appropriateness of defensive behavior is essential with respect to the realization of place and purpose. With openness and awareness of our deepest feelings this can bring true realization of where we are and a greater knowledge of who we are.

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