Meaningless Threats That Still Control Us

Is a life without threats even possible?

Marti Purull


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Threats are always nasty to deal with, regardless of whether we threaten someone or someone threatens us. ‘Do this or suffer the consequences of your disobedience’ belongs with the dark arts. It is a fast way to get someone to do what you want them to do when they don’t, but it is so short-term based that it is no wonder it never lasts for long, at least in historical terms.

They Are Everywhere

Yet, threats are everywhere. Parents threaten children and children threaten parents. States threaten citizens and citizens threaten states. Threats, seemingly, are the bread and butter of placing boundaries between individuals. Threats, if we want to be grandiloquent, are the pillars upon which civilisation rests!

They are so ingrained in our minds that we don’t see most of them, deeming them part and parcel of human relations instead. I am not saying we should start spotting threats everywhere and hysterically confront everyone who issues them; rather, I think it’s useful to understand threats, to see them for what they are, to let them inform our actions and reactions.

Threats Define Us

As you may have surmised, I deplore threats. I hate threatening people even more than I hate being threatened by them. Granted, great leaders have used domination to advance great causes, and domination is but the result of efficiently applied threats, but there have also been great leaders who have refused to use threats and still have achieved equally significant goals. Embracing or rejecting threats are two different ways of seeing the world: they define who we are and the people we want to be with.

Don’t Threaten Your Kids (Or Cats)

My philosophy teacher used to say it was nonsense to try and convince a three-year-old of anything. He was right, of course. That said, I don’t think threatening toddlers is much more effective either. You can still ‘punish’ them. Toss the toy and the toy goes — there’s no more playing. Excellent, we are teaching babies that actions have consequences before they can even speak without resorting to threats.



Marti Purull

I’m a musician, but I think every day. So I write every day. Thoughts. Reflections. Life.