Real talk: aggression

I’ve had some thoughts mulling around in my mind over the weekend and I woke up to read this article about something Stephen Hawking was quoted on recently. “The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression”  “It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.”

It threatens to destroy us all. Wow. Just think about that for a moment.

The fact that when Stephen Hawking was asked what human trait he would most like to change… and he responds with aggression. My mind is literally blown.

This thought was so perspective shaking to me because I’ve recently been thinking about emotional hurt/pain and the trauma that comes along with that. I recently had to address some of my past emotional hurts. In the end it was so resolving, which was about a total opposite from what I had expected. It honestly was almost pleasant. In my head I thought about this experience being painful and causing bad memories to resurface but in the end it left me feeling more whole, more okay and more resolved in my own head with those past hurts.

Photo © Brad Trone

Photo © Brad Trone


When I read this short article about Hawking, it just clicked for me. Aggression equals pain and hurt either emotional or physical. Any time a human being acts out in aggression (in today’s world) the likelihood of that aggressive expression hurting someone else or even themselves is tremendously high.

When I think back to the significant hurtful moments in my life they all stemmed from someone or myself acting out in aggression.

That’s fascinating to me, something that used to be used for our survival now is a root cause of dysfunction. Perhaps this is why it’s sometimes just unavoidable.

I love that Hawking has the ability to see through time, to see through bullshit and call it as it is… like every time. I admire that and him so much.

For me realizing that my emotional wounds started out as a the flawed human trait of aggression makes forgiving them (people) so much easier. It makes forgiving myself easier. Over the weekend I realized that for the most part no-one wants to create a horrible situation for another person, for the most part no-one wants to or enjoys hurting other people. Seeing and feeling that, experiencing the goodness of another person despite past hurts, it’s life changing. It’s affirming and it makes so many things seem okay now. Instead of isolation it’s a reminder of our connectedness to each other. Pain has a funny way of making you feel like you’re all alone, but empathy, empathy has a way of reminding you that’s the biggest lie.

I feel like this wall around my heart was washed away and that fresh air can get in there now.

Even though human aggression is not going to go away anytime soon realizing that my pain stemmed from it and not necessarily another person makes the world up here on my shoulders feel much lighter.

I think Hawking could be right, aggression threatens to destroy us all. It threatens to destroy us by the burrowing bitterness it can cause when kept a secret, wether we are the ones acting on aggression or having aggression acted out to us. Harboring the pain that causes will just eat away at our hearts and when bitterness sets in, empathy is gone. Hawking says “We need to replace aggression with empathy, which brings us together in a peaceful loving state”.

For me true forgiveness came with learning and really seeing for myself that both aggression and empathy can live in the same person. And wherever empathy is love is also.


Here’s the super short article –

And a few quotes for good measure

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
― Brené Brown

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
― James Baldwin


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