I will fight no more forever

“I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever,” said Chief Joseph (March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904) of the Nez Perce Indians in 1877 after he and about 700 members of his tribe travelled 1,500 miles in an attempt to escape the pursuing United States Army and take refuge in Canada.

Chief_Joseph-1877
Chief Joseph – 1877

The words, I will fight no more forever, mean a great deal to me. They reflect how I feel about life in general, particularly when it comes to my private life. I think most understand there is a big difference between fighting and arguing different views and opinions.

I hate fighting.  It’s violent and I am sick to death of violence, in any form.   Other than protecting my life, or the life and safety of another (this includes animals, folks), I see no healthy reason for physical and emotional violence.

Fighting wounds. It damages. It’s scary. It’s sad. It causes pain which is exactly what it supposed to do, because it’s fighting – because it’s violence.  Fighting makes healing and understanding impossible because it prevents healthy communication. Also, fighting takes no talent.

This is not a long missive. It doesn’t need to be.  To quote Chief Joseph: “It does not require many words to speak the truth.”

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Embracing Chief Joseph

On October 5, 1877 Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe ended his powerful and poignant surrender speech with the words, “From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.” This is exactly where I am at in my personal life. These days I prefer to cede ground or disengage from the discourse at hand altogether when a difference in view or perception or belief or memory finds itself on combative terrain, even remotely so. I don’t have the energy, desire, will, or, frankly, the time to snarl these things out, meaning, I don’t want to argue or fight. I first heard my friend Eric  say, “Don’t pick that hill to die on” more than 10 years ago and the phrase has more than once helped me recognize moments when falling silent or walking away was the healthiest choice. When a difference between individuals or people in my personal life becomes about winning or losing rather than a discourse in which each is truly listening to the other, truly considering what the other is presenting, a pattern of communication that, when in play, provides a foundation for understanding and clarity, I just can’t do it anymore. A difference between two is not sport or war; it’s not about winning or losing.

You see, I love my life. In fact, I love life itself. I don’t at all mind being mistaken about things and have no problem at all acknowledging when I am wrong and have no problem at all apologizing when I’ve inadvertently “bruised” or upset someone. Feeling like I have in some way lost when I’ve acknowledged being wrong or when I’ve apologized is the very last thing I feel. In fact, the aforementioned acts give me a feeling of serenity.  A friend of mine recently said something that perfectly reflects a part of my life’s mindset: “I don’t make my days about winning.”  I’d rather commit my life to understanding, learning, loving, humor, writing, reading, the outdoors, friendship, helping others when I can. In other words, remembering to live. In order to do this to the best of my ability in my personal life, I will fight no more forever.

Peace.