Push Back Is Way Easier, Right?

Push Back is Way Easier, Right?

King Sisyphus

(Please, Click here for audio) Push back is way easier, but is it smarter? Or right? When I walk into a situation that is uncertain, or doesn’t seem quite right, it is my nature to push back. It’s like that “flight or fight” sensation we have when attempting to determine if the danger we perceive can be overcome, or should we simply flee for our safety.

Now, this has never caused me to want to flee from the authorities, but I have been in this position where someone did. I was 18 and working a night job during my college years. Driving home (I think), late at night. I was in a group of cars driving down a dark road. Suddenly, the cop car lights up his red and blue and pulls us all over. For speeding, I’m sure. 45 in a 35, or something like this. One of the cars flees the scene and the cop chases after him, and the rest of us simply scoot out to side roads and take different routes home… Should I have hung around?

This “push back” feeling has caused me to over react against someone simply “doing their job” and I’m a victim of their duty. But when you push me, then I push back. When you buck me, I buck harder. There’s something akin to rebellion that rises up and says…”nope, you ain’t doing that to me”… It’s how you learn to react to bullies on the play ground, or job, or even at home. You learn to stand up for yourself. You learn to reject anyone with a loud voice and a bristling attitude that commands you to do, and you simply obey. Well, except for teachers, parents, hmmm… a lengthy list I’m sure!

A prime example is when I’m walking out of a store and the alarm panel lights up and makes a racket. It used to be I would walk back in, find someone in charge, go through my bags and find out what set off the alarm, fix the problem and then exit the store. Again. Not any more. I simply keep walking. Not that this has ever happened, but if the store is interested in what they think set off their alarm then they can follow me and talk to me as I walk to my car. They can keep talking as I off load my packages, and start the engine. They can follow me all the way to the exit of the parking lot and wave at me as I disappear into the sunset.

Now. Is that anyway for me to act? Nope. But it still doesn’t stop me… Why? Push Back.

Surely you’ve noticed those car alarms that go off and no one pays any attention. When they were new, then everyone paid attention. Now, we hardly glance that way. The same is true about the alarms at the store.

About 15 years ago, and after 9/11, I was entering a Jetway for a trip out of Anchorage. I walk through the security with my two carry-on bags and I’m not questioned about anything. Since the Jetway did not have a place to pick up some reading material, I exited back out, went to the little store, picked up a paper and magazine, and came back through security with my two purchases. Suddenly, it’s like I’m a criminal. Empty your pockets. Take off your coat, shoes and belt. Go through the x-ray again. Let’s pat you down. Because suddenly you’re suspicious.

Now, if you push back here, the law is in control and you can miss your flight. Here’s a prime example of knowing when it’s safe to Push Back, and when it’s not.

Leaving a local big box store with some groceries several years back, I was chased down by a store monitor because I did not show them my receipt as I exited. Sorry. There’s not a sign saying they now have the authority to check my purchases against a receipt. She made a spectacle and simply did her job of marking my receipt with her yellow marker. Satisfied, she turned back to the other customer she had abandoned. Not once did she compare my receipt to what was in my basket.

Of course, I complained to one of the managers, a friend, and he told me I did not have to stop at all. They were simply attempting to stop a million dollar loss to shop-lifting. Now. I can understand that. But there is a way of asking for my help and it did not happen here. 

Then, leaving a warehouse store yesterday, after making the same trip and carrying the same backpack 100 times or more, into that same store no less, suddenly I’m asked to open the bag and let them examine it. Sorry. You’ve never done it before and what makes you think you need to do it now? I just keep on walking. “I’ll call the manager.” Go ahead. I’m yelled at in the parking lot, “Don’t ever bring that bag back into the store.”

I’m not sure how I’ll handle this. Yet. But it raised a thought in my innards.

We see people protest and march all the time. Sometimes it turns into a riot. We watch picketers walk back and forth in front of businesses frequently. We have grown use to the idea that we have a voice that can be used against a situation. Even our actions are allowed as long as we do not hurt someone else. We are somewhat okay with this. Why? Because we all understand Push Back.

But why do we Push Back at some things, and allow others things to control our actions? We Push Back against something that helps, but hook, line and sinker we swallow the things that will hurt us even more. We Push Back before we know all the facts, and rush the judgment, jury and executioner to center stage.

A strange story happened last week. Here in Washington, of all places. It goes to show you that human nature, action and reaction, can happen anywhere! A man was harassed and shot by passerby’s when they thought he was dragging a dead dog behind him, instead of a recent road kill (raccoon). He was taking it to a crab pot and did not want the smell too close too him. Rush to judgment. Over reaction. Really? [Source] (Makes me rethink eating crab…)

I know I need to do better. Bad timing can cause all of us to over react. We’re tired. Distracted. Hurried. Any number of explanations, but I’m working hard on responding better. Hence, my post yesterday:

Sometimes our hard headed attitude
bucks up against a request
and our negative spirit unfolds.
Where’s your witness now?

But at the same time…I want to keep Pushing Back when it is necessary. I want to have the right attitude. My witness is of a better way. True, Jesus overturned the money tables and lashed out at those who had turned the house of God into a den of thieves (Matthew 21:12-13), but his overarching example was one of care, concern, and love. Clear away the wrong. Why? In the very next verse it states:

Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. (Matthew 21:14 NKJV)

It was Paul who wrote to the church at Rome.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

And, he writes even differently when he tells us how to live our lives…

See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 NKJV)

I want to learn to check myself. Is this Push Back necessary? What can I learn from the momentary trial? Who is on the other side of the question, and what can I do to reach them? What is my purpose in this moment? Why me, Lord?

Am I learning something? I hope so. Am I being transparently honest with you? I sure hope so. Can we all learn to be better? Yep!