A piece of peace
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE - Rod Nepomuceno () - September 19, 2005 - 12:00am
I recently heard a stand-up comedian make an amusing comment about boxing. He said, "I have trouble understanding the term ‘undisputed heavyweight champion.’ I mean, if it’s undisputed, what’s all the fighting about?"

In a weird way, the comment made a lot of sense not just in boxing, but in everyday life. Case in point: we all agree that peace is good, right? Everyone is chanting peace. Personally, I pray for peace every night. But last week, I cheered wildly as our very own Manny Pacquiao beat up that Velasquez guy from Mexico. After the victory, a thought came to my mind. I don’t like disputes. I don’t like to see people inflict suffering and misery on other people. And yet, for some weird reason, there I was, actually enjoying the fact that Manny Pacquio inflicted pain on the Mexican boxer."

I’m not the war-freak type. I try to be cool in tense situations. I’m like Michael Jackson in a sense – I’m a lover, not a fighter. If I can avoid conflict, I will. On the other hand, some people are natural-born fighters. It’s in their DNA. They live to fight. Like a certain priest I know. I won’t mention who but you all know him. He’s everywhere. He seems to be in every rally for the past five years. He’ll fight anything – even the tooth fairy. This priest helped kick out the previous administration. And now he has joined hands with people from the previous administration (which he helped kick out) and is lobbying for the current administration to resign. He even exorcised Congress. Of course, some people might call that prinsipyo or "fighting for what’s right." But others see him as a guy who just wants to pick a fight against anyone in power. A few days ago, I saw him lambast El Shaddai and Mike Velarde. Kinda strange, really. I’m not passing judgement on him. I’m not saying he’s right, I’m not saying he’s wrong. But he does strike me as palaban in nature which, quite candidly, I am not. In fact – and I am almost ashamed to say this – in my entire life, I’ve only gotten into one fistfight and that was when I was in Grade 6! I simply didn’t enjoy confrontation very much. I still don’t. If I have to make a choice between having it my way and fighting it out with someone, or just giving in and saying, "O, sige na nga, para wala ng away, tama ka na," I have a tendency to choose the latter. I tell myself, "Why should I insist on giving ‘a piece of my mind’ when I know I would not get ‘peace of mind’ anyway?" That’s my nature.

Well, that’s what I thought.

When I finished college, I surprised everyone – including myself – when I decided to take up law. I’m not sure what really pushed me to do it. At that time, I didn’t know the difference between the civil code and the penal code. I didn’t know the difference between the bar and the bench. But for some reason, the whole concept of justice and the protection of legal rights attracted me. I knew that to be a lawyer, one has to like arguing. That’s what makes me wonder. I hated confrontations. I detested arguments. I avoided conflicts. I was Mr. Peace. And yet, something was pushing me to get into a career where people argued for a living. I couldn’t explain it – until recently.

A recent magazine article talked about the inherent nature of humans to desire conflict and look for challenges. It quoted some research data that showed that people actually found the absence of challenges too boring – and that while most people have peace as a lifelong goal, people thrive better and are more productive in an atmosphere of conflict – or in a situation that poses challenges.

I think there’s a great deal of truth in that article. Maybe that’s the reason why I chose to take up law – even if it was not my nature to argue. I sought the challenge. I wanted the chaos. To quote a line from a movie, "Chaos suggests a life full of purpose." I can actually count the number of times when I consciously told myself, "Everything’s OK. I don’t have a problem. I love the world. I’m at peace."

Fact is, there can never be a time when we absolutely have complete peace of mind. When we’re not problematic about our finances, we’re worried about our health. When we’re in the pink of health, all of a sudden, a loved one gets hospitalized. When our loved ones are OK, a big problem in the office suddenly crops up. When business is booming, a son or daughter fails in school or runs away. There’s always some fire to put out, a conflict or a problem that seems to come up every time things are just getting along fine. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. In business, as in life, there will always be conflict, confrontation, problems, and chaos. And they are there because God knows we need it. We need chaos, problems, and gulo in our lives so we can better appreciate what peace is all about. Also, it makes us all stronger. No one ever becomes stronger by peacefully lying in bed the whole day, drinking piña colada, and watching the Cartoon Network. You may not be hurting anyone but sooner or later, someone’s going to comment, "That indifferent bum!" Without you doing anything, you can create enemies!

So when a person gives you a piece of his mind and you get bothered, don’t fret. Peace of mind is all about being in control of the situation and not the absence of problems.

And that, my friends, is a piece of my mind.

Peace, man!
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Thanks for your letters, folks! You may e-mail me at rodnepo@yahoo.com.

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