Recently I got to talking with some of the youth that frequent Monday night Bible study. We regularly have discipline/cooperation issues and the other night was no exception--they walked off our campus and got in a fight down the street. When they left I had walked after them and got there after a neighbor had broken up the fight. I sent the boys back to the church and checked in with the other party to make sure everyone was okay. Though the boys are normally non-compliant, after the fight they were perfectly willing to follow directions. So, I had them sit and we talked about what happened and why they did what they did and I tried to have us talk about why fighting wasn't the right answer.
For the record, that was a losing battle. For them, fighting earned respect and proved you "aren't a pussy". It was not only acceptable, but necessary. There was no room for walking away let alone turning the other cheek. I had NO luck breaking through the fight-for-your-place mentality and was left with all I had--that may do what you do on your own time, but that is fully unacceptable when you're at church. So when you're on our clock--no fighting, not with other people at church, not with neighbors, not at all. Period. In fact, I don't even want to hear about it. Somehow, that made sense to them. They fully understood the issue of liability (even though I didn't want that to be the core reason), and one even cited "because it's church" as a reason for not fighting.
We were clearly on different pages. For me, there's no need or cause to physically fight. One asked, "What would you do if someone hit you? Would you let them do it again?" Probably. Or I'd walk away, because, in my mind, fighting back physically wouldn't fix it. I also raised that because I'm not physically aggressive, I don't even come close to that situation in the first place. It was lost on them. At one point I headed down another dead end road: "Who taught you that fighting is ok?" "My dad." "So if I called your dad and told him what happened he'd be okay with it?" "As long as I won, yeah." Brilliant. At least now I know why we're dealing with this in the first place.
Apparently I have a lot to learn. First, it was graffiti I didn't understand. Now it's the honor culture of the streets. I feel a bit inept. I don't get it. People talking smack or thinking I'm a wuss doesn't really factor in...ok, so maybe them talking smack does (just read yesterday's post), but it doesn't make me bristle and actually consider fighting. It's amazing to me that they don't see the cycle of violence and how it just perpetuates violence and feeds off itself. I mean, they're in junior high, so I suppose I get how they don't think on those levels, but really, how do their parents not get it and tell them differently. What did I miss in my education?!