The Chicken Or The Egg
By Bart Vogelzang

If you are more than 7 years old you have almost certainly heard the question, “Which came first, the chicken, or the egg?” It is meant to be a thought provoking challenge, in that the chicken lays the egg and the egg hatches out a chicken, so that (supposedly) neither one can be first, as they are dependent on each other’s existence.

Of course that is not really the case at all, but not many people really want to get into deeper discussions of genetics, mutations, and environmental influences. Whichever comes first isn’t even that important; what is important is the realization that one must necessarily precede the other.

In our daily lives, we often encounter situations that, if we don’t recognize them for what they are, will be very similar to the chicken and the egg situation. We don’t see and deal with the originating cause and end up swirling in a nearly endless circle of reaction, often one with increasing severity. I’m talking about anger and aggression.

It may be as simple as getting out of bed and finding that you are out of your favorite breakfast food. You feel aggrieved and act a bit nasty with the next person you talk to, and that person, in turn, reacts a bit more aggressively than normally. Your response is to ‘up the ante’ and the circle has started. The difficulty of breaking this cycle is enormous; so it is best to prevent it in the first place. Critical to that is your ability to recognize that originating cause and dealing with it effectively, thereby not creating the vicious cycle.

We can see many examples of these types of escalating cycles of anger and aggression around the world, from simple bullying in the schoolyard, to economic rivalry, to gang violence, to international posturing, to the battling of religious beliefs, and maybe even outright war and genocide. Breaking the cycles can be nearly impossible, but it can be done. It can be done by outside forces that are greater than those within the maelstrom of aggressors, by slow, careful, but willing actions by those involved, or by complete capitulation by one of the parties involved. But is that the case with the worst situation of all?

When one has been indoctrinated with a belief in ones own unworthiness, the circle can easily become a downward spiral. Because you feel you are unworthy, you don’t try to achieve anything, and because you don’t achieve anything, you prove yourself unworthy. Because you don’t respect yourself, you do things that show that disrespect of yourself, and cause you to lose the little that was left. You show that, and before you know it, others treat you with disrespect. This virtually ensures the downward spiral into an abyss of darkness and despair, eventually leaving you feeling unworthy of even being alive.

It could have been stopped at the beginning, at that initial response to the belief in ones own unworthiness. Whether poor parenting, ugly religious bigotry, unchecked bullying, or continual discrimination from others installed it, stopping that circle from starting is essential to our personal welfare. It is up to us to notice the start, and head it off, deal with it, and be able to live our lives without being dragged down into the abyss. It is also up to us to notice that start when it is happening to someone else, to help them deal effectively, so that our community does not suffer the same fate. Indeed, we need to see this same thing happening on the largest scale and head it off from happening globally. Our personal survival, and our global survival, depends on it.