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The Third Rail

There’s none so blind as those who will not listen to see.

I do not think much of a person who is not wiser today than he/she was yesterday. To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. The only difference between falling in love and being in love is that your heart already knows how you feel, but your mind is too stubborn to admit it. Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth. It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed. Disappointment is really just a term for our refusal to look on the bright side. All your problems bow before your stubbornness. The voices of cold reason were talking, as usual, to deaf ears. The tenderest and most generous minds, when seemingly harshly treated, become generally the most inflexible. Mules had nothing on her when it came to being stubborn. The oak that will not bend; breaks. A man of principles was forced to swallow an insult. He choked and died.

Life stays stubborn until it has no choice but to give up, and even then it’s likely to spit one last time in the eye of whatever’s killed it. We’re cruel in victory and cruel in defeat, my friends. Sometimes we don’t have the answer because it’s less about getting the answer and more about our unwillingness to acknowledge that we don’t have it. You’re not especially strong, or fast, or bright. Don’t think you are. But you’ll have the stubbornness to wear down anyone stronger, or faster, or brighter than yourself. But then your stubbornness was connected to your strength, he supposed, and her strength was one of the things about her that he most admired. We go back and forth, week after week, as one remembers it. I was stubborn and so was she. I had a point of view and she did, too. In between disputes, I continued to stand my ground and she continued to not listen, offering a stream of corrections. I gave her all credit for my improvement as a man. She gave me little credit for improving. But still, her lessons went on. Do I forget, or do I refuse to remember?

With all the global warming going around nowadays, it would only take the stubbornness of a mule and the patience of a sitting duck to achieve what no man has ever done before – namely melt the ice in a wax figure’s beaten heart that was chopped off and hidden 500 meters under the polar ice caps in Alaska, to protect it from feeling. People skills are useless with cats, because cats are immune to training, and do whatever they decide in any situation and most importantly they aren’t human. Cats are marvelous creatures – they either adapt to circumstances, or decide to make circumstances adapt to them. Either way they seemingly win. People who make up their minds about something never listen to advice especially when it’s to the contrary. There is something in obstinacy which differs from every other passion; whenever it fails it never recovers, but either breaks like iron or crumbles sulkily away like a fractured arch. Most other passions have their periods of fatigue and rest; their suffering and their cure; but obstinacy has no resource, and the first wound is mortal.

Stubbornness can be an asset. Tenaciously holding on to one’s views as a result of a more enlightened perspective is positive stubbornness; to do otherwise is tantamount to idiocy. Creativity and thoughts is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them. It is a disaster that wisdom forbids you to be satisfied with yourself and always sends you away dissatisfied and fearful, whereas stubbornness and foolhardiness fill their hosts with joy and assurance. A Fallen man is both terrified of vulnerability and committed to maintaining independence.

The line that we chart into our future is often more a circle that brings us back to our past. And it might be that there is some hidden intent in charting circles in that we can feel like we’re moving when we actually have no intent of doing so. We live in a society where people feel they have to be right, no matter what. If we subscribe to that narrow view, the critical gray area is compromised. Stubbornness is a weapon. People tend to draw it out when a sensitive part of their identity is threatened be it dignity, honor, pride, desires, etc. If loaded with righteous resolve, stubbornness can assist in overcoming obstacles and achieving great feats; however, more often than not it is loaded with anger, used as a means of destruction for both the possessor and those whom he turns his weapon upon. It is best utilized by wise individuals who are able to dispassionately perceive if their stubbornness will accomplish good, or if it should be put away and replaced by a humble substitute to spare the lives of everyone affected.

For almost forever the two of us were locked in a battle of wills that had no possible winner, only a different order of losing. If you think the most courageous and difficult thing you can do is stubbornly stand your ground, try graciously giving in. There is a fine line between stubbornness and stupidity as well as intensity and insanity. Some people choose to be wrong just to prove they were always right. When I find that stubbornness continually overrides common sense regardless of the logic of my argument, it seems that the only effective solution is to tell them to go ahead and stick their finger in the socket. And what I find is that what my argument failed to solve, electricity does quite nicely. When the shutters come down you know that the deaf have no ears. Arrogance combined with stubbornness is a ticking bomb. No driven man hears unwanted counsel. Some men would rather break their donkeys back, than give them the carrot they both require to progress. There is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.

Stubbornness is the bearer of disaster.


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