Celtic Thought: Are You Tilting At Windmills…?’: When To Fight, When To Walk Away

20170201-tilting-at-windmills-celtic-thought-jpgWhen is it right to stand firm, hold your ground, and not give way in an argument? After all, you know you’re right, right? When it is right to walk away?

‘He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.’ Sun Tzu

Sometimes when I read blogs I, and I think it may be the same for you, so, we…can get a skewed view of what’s really going on in that person’s life. We might only read of the good things that are happening, and wonder if we’re alone in all the world, for having ‘challenges’ or battles, and our own individual and particular ‘monsters’ to deal with.

And yet, it would be too time-consuming to write about all the ‘mundane’ things that went on in our lives, and so we don’t. After all, who would read my articles if I highlighted a jaunt to the supermarket to buy some fish for supper, or that I visited the local council offices today for a parking permit, or if I described what a lovely meal I cooked last evening – and believe me, it was a wonderful meal. Salmon en croute. Aha, there, I told you! And you’ve read it! Too late!

I know that I’ve talked about the mysteries of Clackitt’s Wood, some major things that have happened in my life, of lessons learned, but they are…snapshots. Only snapshots.

There’s a ‘heap’ of other events, mundane events (however we define the word ‘mundane’), that have occurred. And yet even then, strangely I do believe that the Source of All uses all those mundane events – because I happen to accept that ‘all things really do work to the good…’, as it says in ancient, sacred text. And what applies to me, applies to you. Doesn’t it?

So, sometimes it’s right to perceive ‘mundane’ events as opportunities to encounter the Source and to do good. Sometimes, it’s right to walk away from arguments, acknowledging that it’s not our battle, or that there really is no ‘fight’ and that we’re just ’tilting at windmills’, as they say [ie jostling at windmills, believing they are more than that!].

‘Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvellous.’ Bill Moyers

Here’s a couple of scenarios:

Scenario 1:
Where I live in London there’s a new, horrible, greedy development company (and, yes, I admit I’m biased) who will be building a monstrosity for several years alongside the river? Do I walk away? Or Engage? Hold my ground or not? What would you do?

‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.’ Mahatma Gandhi

Scenario 2:
A friend came over one evening, and we got talking about religion. At one point they said something that, to me, that some might describe as being ‘as soppy as a box of frogs’, but they took to heart. With one sentence I could have felled their argument, but if I did I felt it would have put on a strain on the friendship. So, do I metaphorically walked away and let them ‘win’ the argument, or stand my ground and lose a friend? What would you do?

Time’s up. I’ll tell you what I did!

The greedy development company, albeit staffed with some very nice people but working for a nasty company….well, I and a few others stood our ground. Sadly, the development is still going ahead, but by passionately and reasonably standing our ground, being polite and yet by being oh-so determined, we engaged with them, and have obtained some concessions: more air quality filters, better lines of communication, buildings being demolished in a different order to ensure less nuisance to residents, money to be put into a fund for local amenities, compensation for the worst affected residents etc. We still have some way to go, but we’re getting there.

And, the friend with the weak argument? He ‘won’! I could have ‘demolished’ his argument but it would have upset him, and probably drove a wedge right through the heart of our friendship, and then that would have upset me. He’s a good friend, and sometimes I do believe it’s best to lose an argument and keep a friend.

Choosing our arguments or battles is important.

It would be good to tell you that, as a spiritual person (at least that’s what I’m aiming for), that I live in a cocooned kind of Nirvana where nothing negative affects me. But, it’s not so. I am affected by what friends say, do feel ‘low’ when I get man-flu, feel terrible when I have a nasty reaction to prescribed medicine (guys, be careful with metaclopromide), and, am upset by local developers’ work. But that’s life! And choosing our arguments, or battles (still in a measured, positive and ‘nice’, proactive, non-egoic way), is part of the life-equation for all, for the time being.

If you’re going through a ‘battle’ right now, and you feel that you’re alone, or somehow ‘fate’ has it in for you – remember a few things: (1) everyone feels like that at some time in their life, (2) it’ll pass, (3) you can choose you’re reaction (fight or flight, know when to ‘fight’ or when to walk away with dignity), and (4), the Source of All (that which some call God, but which is a word that is overused and that’s liable to weaken our understanding of it) is still on your side, regardless of the way things look or feel.

Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, ‘Fortune is guiding our affairs…Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them..’

‘What giants?’, asked Sancho Panza.

‘Those you see over there,’ replied his master, ‘with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.’

‘Take care, sir,’ cried Sancho. ‘Those over there are not giants but windmills…’

So, in your particular circumstance, do you stand firm or walk away? Only you can decide that, but I have every reason to suspect that you’ll make the right decision at the time and will learn something valuable from it. We all do! Choosing our arguments or battles is important.


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