The Word for Today – Aggresiveness

by Frank Lukas

The word for today is aggressiveness. My 1963 Webster’s describes aggressiveness in part as: “a disposition to dominate often in disregard of others’ rights or in determined and energetic pursuit of one’s ends; MILITANT also implies a fighting disposition but suggests not self-seeking but devotion to a cause, movement, or principle;”

Sounds mostly pretty bad doesn’t it? Like bullying, war mongering, genocide, mugging and gangsterism. And it can be. But, like almost every human attributes it has two sides, the obviously negative one and a less obvious positive one. I saw an article not long ago where the author (sorry I don’t remember the name) suggested that every human character trait has a negative side and a positive side depending on how you use it and in what context.

People so often get carried away in their aggressiveness that it’s harder to see the positive in it. Mohandas Ghandi, the Mahatma, is such a good example of the positive. He aggressively pursued justice from Africa to India. That he did it nonviolently is part of what makes his aggressiveness so admirable. That he pursued it relentlessly, with courage in the face of violence, is a testimony to the level of aggressiveness with which he pursued his goal. If he had pursued a basically evil purpose as aggressively as he pursued justice we would consider him one of the most evil men who ever lived. But because he fought for his goal with non-violence and moral courage we consider him a hero.

It’s easy to find negative examples of aggressiveness gone wrong, aggressively greedy Wall Street brokers and bankers, aggressively military tyrants, and aggressively violent gangsters. But I bet if you look around carefully you’ll see a lot of Ghandi’s successors out there too. They are still brave, still heroes, still pursuing justice, equality, brotherhood, democratic and republican ideals, AGRESSIVELY.