May 10, 2006

Turn the other cheek?

I was listening to a liberal radio talk show host today and she happened to mention that when she was growing up, she'd never hit someone back who hit her, because she "wasn't raised that way." She went on to explain that she'd been taught to turn the other cheek, and believed that if someone slugs you or punches you, that you shouldn't hit them back or it's lowering yourself to their level.

This got me thinking. It's a sort of moral/ethical dilemma that everyone might confront at some time or other, particularly if you're a parent.

What would you advise your child if they came home from school and told you that some other kid had punched them or shoved them? Would you tell them that if that happens in the future, to punch the kid right back, only harder? Or would you tell them, as the radio host said she'd been taught, that they should run away as quick as they could and tell a teacher or adult?

Even those without kids can ponder this as a hypothetical situation.

What's your view? Should people teach their kids to meet force with force? Hit the kid back or get into a fight? What if the kid is bigger than yours?

Or is it wiser to counsel them to walk away and not engage with bullies or people who stoop to physically hurting them? Is teaching kids to never engage in violence the correct course?

Whatever your view, try to explain why you feel the way you do.


At 5/10/2006 1:42 AM, Blogger Brad said...

You've explained a typical political situation: conservative as the bully, and liberal as the kid who doesn't fight back. Maybe we should teach democrats how to fight back...otherwise it's going to be a while before they get back in power. You have to outsmart your bully...and when you master that, you don't have to fight back with more force OR run and tell someone.

At 5/10/2006 8:26 AM, Anonymous Huck Finn said...

Maybe we should take a page out of the current National Security Strategy and teach our kids that if another kid poses a threat, even if it's based on unproven rumors from other kids, our kid can preemptively beat the snot out of that kid as a means of self-protection.

Wasn't there a book "Everything You Need to Know You Learned in Kindergarten"

At 5/10/2006 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't overthink this one. Here's what I advised my children: If someone gets physical in a way that scares you, run for help. If it's merely a push or shove to intimidate you, then back away and warn that person to leave you alone. And if they try to do it again, you are justified in using counterforce -- as long as it's someone about your size!

At 5/10/2006 10:22 AM, Blogger UMRBlog said...

It is very dangerous to teach your children to be pacifists. Instead, teach them that, if 15 guys from Saudi Arabia attack you, get even by invading Iraq.

Seriously, my Dad, a professional Boxer, taught me to hit the biggest kid as hard as I could and he promised to intercede for me with school authorities. When I was in the 5th grade, I was attacked by three 8th graders. I did and my Dad did. My mother was appalled and I still got the living hell beat out of me. The 8th graders were suspended from school and the one I hit lost teeth (I was very small at the time--had to jump to catch his face.) I never had any discipline and nobody ever bothered me at that school again. Cheek turning can be overrated when threats are actual or imminent.

At 5/10/2006 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To turn the other cheek is a good thing. To be a coward is another thing all together. Afraid to do something about agression is not turning the other cheek.

At 5/11/2006 2:20 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I think it's interesting to consider this question in a political sense, since liberals in a broad sense could be expected to advocate turning the other cheek,while the right is on the other extreme.

So which philosophy is more successful? Has the right wing militaristic course always been best?

As Huck Finn alertly pointed out, how's our strategy of punching out some kid you even THINK might potentially punch you in the future working out?

Isn't that kind of insane and counter productive?

And the issue of advocating your child give it right back... as long as the kid isn't too much bigger... raises a sort of iffy message itself. Go ahead and hit someone, but only if they're your size or smaller. Let the bullies get away with it.

UMR cites his experience and it's the typical tale which is used to justify the "hit 'em right back" philosophy. That bullies are really whimps, that if they find out they're going to get resistance and humiliation from you if they target you, they'll steer clear.

This is no doubt true in most cases. But what if you slug the bully and it doesn't come out in the fairy tale ending of you landing the miraculous punch that sends the running with their tail between their legs?

What if you slug them and it bounces off and enrages them to the point where they beat you into a grease spot and terrorize you on a daily basis from there on out?

Anyone have further thoughts on the whole question or how it relates to politics?

Is there anyone out there who feels that meeting violence with violence is simply wrong in all instances and should be discouraged for the sake of the child and society at large?

At 5/11/2006 6:16 PM, Blogger UMRBlog said...


The three particular bullies in my case were not exactly wimps. They did comprehensively beat the hell out of me. It just wasn't a freebie. I was in that school three more years and remained very small for my age and nobody thereafter laid a glove on me.

In the Geopolitical context it's much more complicated. There's a moral component, leadership component (will your own people follow you), international relations component; survival component and about a hundred other components.

I've done one war and I'm not a pacifist but a flip attitude about preemption seems to skip over most of these components.

Now, in electoral politics, the most important component is tactical. If your opponent makes a charge, you just about have to hit back, just to discredit the source. As we have seen, however, your stuff better be good when you hit back. Paul Vallas, for example, hit back and whiffed.

Neat RW topic.

At 5/11/2006 9:43 PM, Blogger UMRBlog said...


Isn't that "Grease Spot" thing essentially what happened to the 6th largest standing army in the world (Iran) depending upon whose version you buy? They "hit back" and ultimately got their clerical clocks cleaned (with all due respect to Spiro Agnew for the cheap alliteration).

At 4/13/2008 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I let my faith guide me in this. I have taught my kids that there comes a time when you have to stand and defend yourself, your family and others. However, this requires quick and shrewd judgement and must be seen as the last resort always. We are instructed under the New Covenant with Christ to not live by the sword lest we die by it. We are also tole that we are welcomed by God when we suffer as to no cause of our own. 1 Peter 2:19-25.


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