Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Last Thursday was the birthday of the author Cormac McCarthy. It's not an event I would have noted, in this forum or elsewhere, were it not for the fact that I heard the following quote from Mr. McCarthy on a day when I was contemplating the both the concept of conflict and the reality of the violence it can cause.
There's no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.

I will not even begin to address what Mr. McCarthy might have to say about the current conflicts in the Middle East. I never really intend to get much more political than, perhaps, pointing out Steven Colbert pointing out the little girl giving President Bush the finger. My thoughts were more about an issue much closer to home: sibling rivalry.

I have two younger sisters and we still fight like, well, sisters. When we were younger the intensity of the fighting was much stronger, of course, now the fights are really just vestiges of old conflicts. I doubt that either of them would ever put the other's hand through a plate glass window ever again.

These days it's Jill and Sam who's rivalry takes up much of my thoughts. The fight like cats and dogs, like Tom and Jerry, like Punch and Judy, or whatever other fighting duo you'd like to add to this list. The thing is, they're great friends when they aren't fighting. They can play with each other for hours at a time in peace and harmony. But those happy times have absolutely no bearing on how they behave the moment one gets angry with the other. In fact, it seems to me that the nicer they've behaved prior to fighting the more nasty and heated the battles that follow will be.

As much as I wish I didn't have to deal with the screaming, crying and inevitable injuries that come of Jill and Sam's fighting, I do believe that it serves a major purpose for both of them. Am I a better person because I fought with my sisters? I kind of think so. If nothing else, my sisters are responsible for eliciting in me the most violent, homicidal rages of my lifetime. I suppose that in and of itself isn't much of a service, but they also taught me to control that rage, and that's invaluable.

Mr. McCarthy, I think, is correct that life without conflict does not exist (I happen to try to live mine without bloodshed, but I've inflicted a couple of gaping wounds in my time, so I can't argue with his point very effectively). As much as I hate listening to the sounds of the G. children learning to control the rages of violence that every human is afflicted with, I think they're learning lessons that every person MUST if we wish to live in a relatively bloodshed-free world.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's tough learning to cohabitate together, especially when you throw into the mix different cultures and ways of looking at things. I do believe it is a lesson well-learned to be able to control ourselves as much as is humanly possible. That said, I was a holy terror to my two brothers when we were growing up and to this day there are some things I've never been forgiven for! Stay strong! LOL

8:54 AM  
Blogger icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...

Fighting is a natural part of life. Conflict is unavoidable and anger is a healthy emotion. It is what you choose to do with it that's the problem. It is a problem when children aren't taught to cope with their anger and so they shoot all the kids in their school one day.

I faught with my sister and we were both ruthless. Once, when she had mono I chased her around the house with a knife (I wasn't going to hurt her, just scare her. I was, like, 10.) Then, in college, I remember having a HUGE fight about a tube of lipstick and a lot of nasty words were said.

When I think about it, the people in the world with whom I am ultimately the closest are the people I've had the worst fights with and recovered from. There's something about a good fight that brings people closer together. Maybe it's reaching that height of emotion... idunno.

Great post!

8:24 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth K said...

I fought with my sister so much growing up that my mother was afraid we'd never get along. Now we're best friends and she even lived with me for 8 months this past year.

I am so glad someone else chased their sister through the house with a knife! (not that I will admit to it). I did not know how to cope with my anger and feelings at getting a little sister when I was 6 and boy howdy is it making my therapist rich.

10:24 AM  

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