Sunday, April 19, 2009

On the Virtue of Patience

Turbulent river, fishermen gain.
Hispanic proverb

Provoking your enemy to make mistakes is an ancient war tactic used by strategist throughout history. Illustrious generals have done actions against their enemies with the only purpose of forcing them to react in a disorganized manner, allowing them to use that disorganization in their favor. A surprise attack or an act of exemplary humiliation has many times been the difference between victory and defeat.

But this tactic has many applications beyond the battlefield.

Muhammad Ali used to insult and to slap his opponents with harmless blows, just for making them lose their patience. During this moment of chaotic reaction, his opponent would lose also the rational control of his actions, making mistakes that under normal circumstances he never would have made, and Ali would perform then an attack that he had planned thoughtfully, wining easily over an extremely difficult opponent.

This tactic is no stranger to the field of family relations, especially when the subject under discussion is the custody of children. Many divorced men have been lured into situation of disorganized reaction with the only purpose of using their reaction to block their contact with their children and, ultimately, to cancel their possibilities of having their custody.

The most common avatar of this tactic would be as follows: A divorced father meets his ex-wife for any reason (picking up their children for parenting time or bringing them home after, a phone call between parents, etc.), his ex-wife inflicts him some kind of physical or verbal violence, the father reacts accordingly in an analog manner, the ex-wife goes to court to place a restraining order because the father was violent and threatening, the father cannot get near his ex-wife, and since she has custody of their children, he cannot get near his children neither. Mission accomplished. Her real purpose was never putting barriers between her and her ex-husband, but between her ex-husband and their children.

Be aware. Expect the hidden snake.

Though I know that it is easy to say and hard to do, the only adequate response is the old virtue of patience. Having your children in mind, envisioning the happy future that you will have with them, realizing that the current moment is just an entrapment to make you loose everything that you love, will make think twice before reacting to any provocation, to any challenge. And if you are Christians, and even if you’re not, meditate on Jesus’ words:

A woman has pain when her time to give birth comes. But after the child is born, she doesn't remember the pain anymore because she's happy that a child has been brought into the world. (John 16:21)

Patience. It will come a day when everything that you are suffering now will seem little, even laughable. Live for that day.

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