Proposed Conduct Policy: Stand Your Ground

The book “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell got me thinking. None of these are original ideas, but I think they meet the requirements. I’ve long struggled with the ideas I’ve seen in conduct policies in other communities. I believe they are dysfunctional. This is the alternative I propose. This write up is meant for general audiences, it would be tailored better for use in an open source community.

Stand Your Ground
A Functional Solution to “Talking to Strangers”

The requirement: reduce fear and distrust
The design: stand your ground

Standing your ground is passive confrontation. The alternatives are all reactions to fear:

  • fight is active confrontation
  • flight is active avoidance
  • freeze/hide is passive avoidance

Any strategy that is a reaction to fear also provokes fear in others, constrained only by their level of trust. No other strategy in response to a conflict between people will calm fear in others because every other combination of confrontation vs avoidance and active vs passive may result in increased fear and distrust in others.

Fear is the mind killer because in a state of fear one’s entire focus is on the things feared. One is blind to the fear itself. Every other consideration about anything social or physical is lost to the focus on what is feared. One outward behavior of fear is distrust. Active distrust escalated by the cycle of fear during interactions between people where both choose fear-based strategies is the problem covered thoroughly in “Talking to Strangers”.

Stand your ground is the only universally applicable social stance to reduce fear, tension, and distrust. It is speaking instead of acting. It is then listening instead of talking.

It is the only stance that incorporates love: the benefit of the doubt and deferral of judgment.

It is the only stance that incorporates awareness: an ability to gather information needed for judgment if and when it is needed in the future.

For those who fear and those who are feared: stand your ground.

When in doubt: stand your ground.
When in danger: stand your ground.
When in fear: stand your ground.

In personal relationships, in business and trade, in public policy and law: stand your ground.

To heal the fear and distrust spreading like a wildfire through our communities and societies: simply approach every conflict by standing your ground with passive confrontation and let the power of love and awareness heal the rift.


Depending on the situation there is also something to be said for “go with the flow”.

IMO go with the flow is a good default most of the time… necessary most of the time. In face of a conflict the difference would be to confront it, but passively… it doesn’t have to be solved immediately or forced to a certain result, so after confrontation one would go with the flow until it is clear that more than passive confrontation is needed (which if done well is rarely the case).

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