We all have them, that one thing that can pluck our last reserve nerve. Do we have a legitimate complaint or are we being whining nit-pickers??? Sometimes the answer to that is pretty straight-forward and sometimes it is in the eye of the beholder. Either way, they are the sturm und drang of day to day life and can add to the untold misery of our existence both as individuals and as a community.

The ways of handling pet peeves are many and varied, but part of the solution rests in our doing our best to analyse the situation with a cool head, understanding that our emotional reaction is as important a piece to the puzzle as are the dynamics of the puzzle itself. Our ability to do this increases and is more effective, hopefully, over time and with the maturity brought from age and experience, but even in our mature years, we can have moments when we are frustrated and angry enough to spit nails.

At one end of the spectrum are people for whom this ability is native. It comes already wired into the hard drive of their personalities and can do much to calm the turbulence that is sometimes life. Somehow, these people are like the proverbial cork on the ocean: no matter what happens, they always rise above it and maintain their unflappable demeanor.

At the other end of the spectrum are the passionate, the fiery temperament, the hot-head, and the drama queen.

I am the passionate one with the fiery temperament. I came out this way. Some of my earliest memories as a young child of 6 or 7 are of arguing with my father for or against things I felt were wrong and unjust. If I even suspect there is any whiff of injustice afoot, I am ready to fight WWIII, if necessary, with a passion and resolve that is relentless. Little surprise that I wanted to become a trial attorney when I grew up. What else would you expect from a child that was called The Philadelphia Lawyer before she ever arrived at public school? Even now, fifty something years later, I am still tilting at windmills with enthusiasm and vigour. I have a father in his nineties who is well known in the community as a voice of dissent. This trait is something of a defining characteristic of our family tree, going back generations.

That having been said, emotional fervour is one thing. Being able to foment change is another. In order to do that, what we need is a good analysis of the facts of the problem, the emotional and intellectual energy to pursue the solution, and resources (the tools) with which to pursue the solution. In other words, we need to be able to answer four questions:

What are we fighting for?
Why are we fighting?
What are we fighting with?
What is our end goal?

While these can, and will, change over time, even in the same issue, they are essential elements in the solution.

There is one other over-arching question which must be answered before we begin. Not all issues in life, even in the world of pet peeves, is one that needs or deserves to be pursued beyond the venting stage. Others require responses that ratchet up the rhetoric and response.

Sometimes, what happens is just life being life. We blow off steam and that is the end of it. It is a minor, daily-style aggravation which all mankind is subject to. Some need to be addressed and some do not. They are the “Why?” questions which populate our existence. Why does it always rain on the weekends and not in the middle of the week? Why is there always a traffic jam when I am running late? Why is every piece of clothing I own a stain magnet? Why does every parking space that is within three miles of my preferred location when I am driving down the opposite side of the street suddenly disappear into thin air when I turn around and am on the right side of the street?

Sometimes, what happens is something in our society or culture that needs to be addressed in order to get us back on the right path. Somehow, we have lost our way as a people and need to find it again. The increasing vulgarity in our culture and in our speech would be one of those. These are issues which affect our quality of life and our ability to maintain the foundations of our society and culture. They must be addressed if we are going to be able to keep going forward and not run off the rails.

But other times, they are do-or-die issues that must be addressed with unyielding fortitude and relentless vigour.  All types of human rights issues would be among those, such as abuse, neglect, and genocide. Racism and anti-Semitism would be another. Predatory countries (like Nazi Germany in the 20th century), groups, and gangs (like al-Qaeda, ISIS/ISIL, Boko Haram, and the pirates off the coast of Somalia and East Africa) would be examples. Organized crime would be another. These are issues which affect the very rights to exist for all mankind and must be addressed if we are to continue to live.

So, let’s give it a go!!! Let’s see if we can’t define the problems, identify the sources, propose and implement solutions, then see what results.

Whatever we may find, it has to be better than the feeling it is hopeless and there is no solution to be had or justice to be found.

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