“Choosing Your Battles”

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

Wrestling with a pig… what an image this brings to mind! Of course this is not intended solely to mean wrestling with an actual pig, rather, I believe Cyrus is talking about the idea of arguing with someone who has 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 are not usually interested in knowing just what kind of harm they have done–they want to continue to feel the self-righteousness that allowed them to do something mean and inconsiderate in the first place.

On further analysis, we could see the idea of wrestling with a pig as similar to a conflict with just such a person. This type of person will reduce logic to a shambles, because logic does not matter to them. They may stand there and say “So?” when you point out just how much damage they have 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 are enjoying the discomfort you are experiencing because of their unwillingness to respond to logic.

Am I calling such people pigs? I don’t know–I certainly would not call anyone a pig in the generally negative way we tend to use the term–as dirty, rude, sloppy, or eats too much. But the analogy does fit–expending lots of energy to accomplish that which cannot be accomplished, and adding to the enjoyment of someone else who does not really deserve to be enjoying the situation is just like I would imagine it would be wrestling with a pig. Well I do not do it any more–it is called “choosing your battles.” If you need a pig to do something, go find someone who knows how to make pigs do things, for you do not necessarily need to do everything yourself. And do not give the pigs the enjoyment of watching you get dirty yourself 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 are not easily accomplished, especially where other people are concerned?

Why do we tend to continue to wrestle with pigs, even when we have seen that it does not really work?

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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