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The author explained how fighting against provocation in our daily lives is important to keep our minds calm and make decisions for our benefit.
An example is given of Arthur Ashe's father, who worked as a driver for a wealthy Jewish man named William Thalhimer, visiting to buy a piece of land. Ashe's father witnessed firsthand the discrimination faced by Jews in the unreconstructed South in the 1950s.
Throughout the negotiation, Thalhimer was insulted, condescended to, and bullied by a man who seemed particularly disgusted at the thought of doing business with a Jew. However, Thalhimer remained surprisingly quiet and calm throughout all the provocation he faced during the entire negotiation process.
On their way back home, Ashe's father, while driving, couldn't resist asking Thalhimer how he could remain so calm despite constant provocation. Thalhimer replied, "I came here to purchase that piece of land, and I got that piece of land. It belongs to me now, not to him. That man can go on cursing me for as long as he wants, but it doesn't change the fact that I own that land." This is what Thalhimer wanted all along. Of course, Thalhimer wished to punch the man in the face, but that might not have ended the way Thalhimer had hoped.
After any provocation, with the distance offered by the passage of time, any rational person can appreciate the calmness and self-control shown by Thalhimer. It would be fantastic if all this with Thalhimer hadn't happened. If no one was ever subjected to slurs or discrimination, if there were no bullies, and everyone was kind to us, if no one was ever deprived, judged, or assaulted. But that is not life.
Remember always: As wrong as they are, as annoying as it is, it takes two for a real conflict to happen. As the stoics said, when we are offended, when we fight, we are complicit. We have chosen to engage. We have traded self-control for self-indulgence. We allowed our cool head to turn hot, even though we know hot heads rarely makes right decisions.
Life... people... they're going to give you the opportunity. You can decline to accept it.
It's the easiest thing in the world to respond to intemperance with intemperance. We have to remember: Someone else's lack of self - control is not a justification for abandoning our own. Nor is it a good look or a recipe for success and achievement.
Truth is, we will have to deal with people in our daily lives who may provoke us from time to time. But this doesn't mean we have to indulge ourselves and respond to such situations by losing our self-control because you have work to do. They want you to get upset. If you end up responding to every attack, then, as Lincoln said, you might as well admit defeat right now. You may never get any work done. You'll certainly never be happy. And they'll have won.
There will always be people around us who will end up provoking us for no reason, just to get a response out of us, making us lose our self - control. Believe it or not this can greatly hamper our productivity and concentration we put in our daily tasks and learning how to handle ourself against provocation can help us becoming better versions of ourselves.
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