Excerpt from John Graden’s upcoming book, Choose Your Battles Wisely.
A high school student gets verbally bullied in the locker room. I’ll call him Joe, which is not his real name, though this is a real story. Joe responds to the verbal abuse by punching the bully in the face.
The bully is knocked out cold. He falls and his head slams into the floor killing him on impact. Joe was 18, convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15-years in prison.
Do you think Joe wanted to kill the kid? On some level, maybe. Do you think that was his intention when he punched him? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.
Clearly, he did not choose his battle wisely.
He made a snap decision that ended one life and pretty much ruined his, not to mention the families’ torment, grief and disbelief that two lives could be flushed down the toilet in 2-seconds.
Both families were understandably devastated. It makes me wonder where they might place the blame. That would be an interesting lesson on perspective.
The bully instigated the confrontation, but did he really pose a threat to the life of the puncher? Had Joe dealt with the bullying with virtually any method possible other than punching him, the bully would be alive and he wouldn’t be a felon for the rest of his life.
I can’t imagine Joe saying, “I’m glad I punched him.” I can imagine him saying, “That was the biggest mistake of my life.”
How many prison cells, hospital beds or wheelchairs are occupied with someone who allowed a verbal situation to escalate to the point of it becoming physical? The answer is too many.
There are three fights to every fight. This is a lesson parents need to teach their kids before encouraging to “not take any sh**!”
This is the yak before the smack. This book will help teach you how to de-escalate a verbal confrontation. If you can end the fight here, you win, regardless of what is said.
One of you strikes out at the other. How you win this fight is on a spectrum from justified self-defense all the way to you being charged and prosecuted, just like Joe which leads to fight 3.
The biggest fight of all is in the courtroom. Quite often, in the heat of the fight, the threat is over, but you go for one more punch or stomp to the head.
In the eyes of the law, that is a new fight that you started against a defenseless victim, even if he was the bully that started it all.
For months, maybe years, you may be fighting your legal battle from a jail cell. Odds are you or your parents will have to mortgage their home to pay for the legal defense with no refunds