There’s a brightly lit cross on the top of Mt Roskill, presumably because it’s Easter soon. I think the cross is there all year, they just light it up at this time of the year. Mt Roskill used to be known as the Bible Belt but I think most of the kids who were brought up in the belt, and no doubt knew that the belt was something to be feared, have moved on. Quite a few years before that when the sect of Judasm gained political backing in Rome, the politicians of the time put together a collection of books that would become the official stories of the new religion. And the Roman execution tool for revenge and torture became a symbol for much of the world, sitting over church buildings, on graves and on Mt Roskill tonight.
I’m helping an older person who’s been trying to get some peace with someone who is angry about something a very long time ago. The problem was supposedly sorted out – justice was done – and my friend moved on, knowing that although she hadn’t done anything herself, at least there might be some peace to be had.
I’ve noticed in some disfunctional leadership teams, there is sometimes an angry person hanging onto some ancient grevience. You can often do good work with one-on-one coaching in such cases, helping the person to develop a new world view and recognise the anger for what it is. It can be a big challenge though, as the angry person’s instinct is usually for revenge and there are plenty of little soldier boys out there ready to help the sad but vengeful person. As hard as it can be, when you’re confronted with a friend intent on revenge, it’s so important to not get sucked into it. I was talking to my friend Richard Kerr-Bell this evening who says that people intent on revenge ultimately exhibit signs of psychotic behaviour if unchecked – it’s as though the functioning brain narrows to a slice of it’s usual size and lets no insight in that could grapple with the underlying cause of the anger. And colleagues can easily be drawn into the revenge, as when you’re only operating on a slither of your usual cognitive abilities, your normal happy functions are just not there. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked in like a little soldier boy, thinking it’s helping.
As I write this I’m watching an episode of Seinfeld about revenge. Kramer is filling up a washing machine at the laundromat with concrete mix in revenge for cash that apparently went missing from Jerry’s laundry bag. Meanwhile George is going to spike his boss’ drink to get back at him for putting him down in a meeting. The chinese have a saying that if you want revenge, first dig two graves. George needs a new job now, as you might imagine.
Unfortunately, my friend’s problem person has a little soldier boy “helping out” who seems to specialise in sustaining revenge for as long as possible. Do you think it’s helping? Of course not. All that’s happening is that something that could quite easily be sorted and all parties moved on is stuck, like that cross on the top of Mt Roskill, reminding all involved that the revenge and tortune must continue. There’s no sacrifice for man’s good here, that’s for sure!
Go home little boy soldier. This ain’t your concern and you’re playing games with real people who can come together in time.
If your team or community has a big problem between two people, look around and see whether there’s someone shuffling around under the radar stirring up the revenge to sustain the anger and torture in perpetuity.
That won’t be the original problem, but it could be sustaining it unnecessarily. Get rid of the little soldier boy who’s planted themselves in the middle of this thing and replace him or her with someone who know about peace. And happiness.
That would be a great start to any weekend! Enjoy yours. I will be – catching up with the folks – and we’ll have a great family time together.