A Peacemaker’s Lesson Through the Sport of MMA
The seemingly smallest moments can provide valuable life learning experiences and this evening held one of those precious opportunities. A group of us were gathered for a national “— Day”, it doesn’t matter which one it was – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Flag Day, Labor Day, Independence Day. This day was a great excuse to treat ourselves, where no one must cook, where we could eat great food mingled with laughter, love and great conversation. Accordingly, we were gathered at a raucous and happy restaurant, almost every table was filled and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
We were quite a distance from the many large screen TVs that hung above a massive bar area, so I could only see the large TVs and not hear the commentary. On every other TV, was MMA fighting- not just a MMA fight, but the BEST KNOCKOUTS of MMA fighting. So, imagine if you will, a series of clips showing men pummeling other men to the extent that bloody and bashed-in faces were cheered and celebrated. As I was looking on in disbelief, the next clip showed an aggressor hitting, full force a man’s heart, multiple times. I thought I was seeing a killing on TV given that the victim was prone, clearly overpowered and lifeless on the ground – the “killer” literally getting as many hits directly over his heart that he could get in before the ring attendant (I hesitate official because clearly there was minimal supervision of the actions of the participants) pulled the “winner” off of the “looser”. I turned away, but I kept seeing the additional horror clips in the corner of my eye because it was in line with looking at a loved one seated across from me. For the life of me, I couldn’t imagine why a family filled restaurant with children at almost every table had this kind of sport on TV.
When I broke into the table conversation to describe the traumatic scene I had just seen on TV, the person in my group with their back to the screen said, “Oh, that is MMA fighting. I LOVE it!” Wow, just by my description of the scene, they knew what sport I was watching. Someone I love, loves watching this display of horror on earth. Cue judgment. Or not.
What I know, is that it is actually my decision to judge another for liking, I mean REALLY liking, what I would judge for myself as abject nonsense, complete idiousy, immoral, unconscionable, unnecessary, neanderthal… the adjectives could continue, but you get the idea. Because I try not to speak for others, I don’t know what adjectives the person across the table from me would use to describe this sport. I do understand that the network wouldn’t put it on TV unless others (lots of others) watch it, enjoy it and find some value in it. Trust me, I am intentionally ignorant about this sport that clearly has lots of fans; I don’t want to know about it, so I don’t pay this sport the least bit of attention. The only exposure to MMA I’ve had is knowing that an incredibly dear, sweet and loving friend is engaged to an aspiring MMA champion. I see posts about his fights occasionally and always send out a hope for his protection from injury, mainly because of my connection to his future wife. Really, MMA fighting’s pros and cons as a sport just don’t come into conversation, because I choose not to talk about it. How convenient it is that I never need or desire to talk to anyone else about the sport of MMA? Thus, our differences are comfortably “out of sight (or conversation) and out of mind.” Cue non judgment. Or not.
Obviously, I wasn’t in complete control of my environment in that moment. I was in public, and felt it best to act with the expected decorum. We were celebrating that night and a full-on display of disgust might have ruined a moment that we wanted to enjoy. This night I didn’t act outrageous and did not dream of acting out my own disapproval. My act of aggression in response, could have looked a lot like a battle in the ring in its own right. It could have been me exerting my disapproval to management, demanding action to change the channel, and if rejected, then forcefully jumping up on the bar and reaching far enough (imagination at great play here – especially the part about jumping up on the bar) to manually turn the TV off. That would have been my own act of fighting back. I might have even gotten some justifiable support by a few others, but chances are, most would not have appreciated my attempted display of personal power to control my environment. That would have been me, exerting my own rights over others. I just don’t think that would have been appropriate or called for, when I could easily divert my eyes to distance myself from the display. But then again, is it right to just divert my eyes to something that clearly (to me at least) seems to cross the line of appropriateness?
These days in particular, I am so very conscious about my judgments, noticing the many opportunities in my life that exist to find the “other” perspective (notice my spin on it to find the positive). My intention is to look within myself and to be aware of the times I’m pulled to judgment and then most importantly, to tap into all the emotion that wells up within me. Because I know one thing – my abject rejection of another person’s beliefs, only creates a greater division within my society and more importantly, more of my own personal emotional discomfort. Cue the violin strings I know – “If I want to be a peaceful, loving person, then I must find peace and love within myself.” Actually, when I most need to find peace and love within myself is when I am amidst the most fractious parts of my community. We all have an opportunity now to look for societal lessons in the art and practice of non judgment, and some choose that opportunity and some do not. So I intentionally step back and look at this one, tiny experience, from a higher perspective. This new and improved perspective sees the bigger picture and includes the idea that many of us are choosing to experience life differently, but that we are all a part of a connected life experience as well.
Yes. There are people that love watching what I term violence, identified as the sport of MMA. As I put on my non-judgmental hat, like putting on new clothing to try a new way of being, I begin to have a perspective of what leads others to view these things opposite from me. From that intentional frame of mind, I suppose others see the participants as taking an opportunity to strive greatly toward their own achievements, their own empowerment and to take their bodies into what they see as their greatest challenge. In this open mindedness, I can imagine the fighter’s greatest challenge is stepping into a ring and knowing that they may lose and lose big, but to them it is so worth it. Okay, I’m on a flow now! I can imagine those that love watching the fight, might wish they had a little bit of what the fighters are exemplifying – a braveness that comes with being willing to go to the end – no matter the outcome. They may wish that a part of themselves was fit enough to withstand the battle, if not for the glory, for the monetary gain it brings. Then I begin to ponder… what is it that is within them that feels the need for a fight to prove their innate worthiness or greatness? Cue the compassion and love. So, I can get that. And I recognize, that maybe it isn’t that at all. Who am I to judge why others are doing the things they do? Ahhh… that feels better within my being.
My lesson in life is to be aware of the reasons I do things and always try to consciously choose the path of light and love. The fighter’s lesson? I might suggest that the fighter be aware of why they are in the battle. My lesson within the fighter’s lesson? That sometimes the battle is worth the cost.
What about the peacemaker’s lesson in all this? I suggest it is to be aware that the good of all, begins with the good and worthiness within yourself. My lesson within the peacemaker’s lesson? Peacemakers and lovers, can choose to stand amidst the battle, the conflict, the judgments and know we are safe and supported and that we are loved beyond imagining by the Creator of all of it.
I will not be deterred by the wars raging in others around me or wars waged by countries of this world, in experiencing the grace filled, present moment. I find my courage, my grace, my fortitude in my breath. To some that sounds ridiculous, I know. But hear me out too. My peaceful action this night was the loving breath of consciousness that I took when I recognized the table between this person I loved was a minuscule metaphor for how far apart we were on this one issue. With my conscious breath, I breathed in love, I breathed in peace and I chose the present moment to continue our celebration of life and love. With my breath, I removed the distance about this issue and chose only to acknowledge the love I felt for this other person.
My prayer is this – that my subsequent actions, that may or may not include definitive action when I sense injustice in the world, be supported by the breath of love from the Creator. For this empowered breath, fills me with the presence of mind that comes to me always as Love, directly from the Creator of Love, and can fill society with its power to transform anything.