On the right lower side of my jaw, I have a little flap of skin partially covering my molar. I believe that it is a little piece of gum that was not totally displaced when the wisdom tooth came in. The tooth didn't come in like a normal tooth did, however. My memory of the entire affair is a little bit unclear, but during the summer of 2001, I got hit hard enough in the jaw that a partially submerged wisdom tooth managed to pop its casing and come in almost totally. Many people have had teeth knocked out. I have a tooth that got knocked in.
I am not claming to be hardcore, there is certainly enough people claming to be hardcore in the world, and the frightening thing is that many of them actually are. I am not one one of them, and now that I am safely out of my teenage years, I am not ashamed to admit a tendency to being a wimp at times. That being said, getting hit hard enough in the jaw to knock a tooth in did not particularly scare me, although it did cause a great deal of discomfort. The reason is that the injury occured under controlled circumstances, was mostly an accident, and most importantly, the person who gave it to me was truly concerned with my feelings.
But is also reminds me of "what could be". It makes me think about the ramifications of a person who is capable of hurting me that badly, if I had no way to prevent it. Of course, I could prevent such injury with my 31337 ninja skillz, but I am smart enough to know that there is always a bigger man. So after this incident, and many others like it, I've come to develop a healthy fear of the thought of being caught in the clutches of someone who has no respect for my feelings.
Many people are scared of violence, and for good reason. But what they are scared of is perhaps not clear to them. I don't have wide experience, but I know that the headache that I got after getting beaten in one mugging was nowhere near as bad as some headaches that late night, 8 hour long Civilization II marathons have given me. So when I look at a person and look at their capacity of violence, I don't look at their size or skill. I look at whether they have any ability or desire to sympathize with another person's feelings. You can store sharp knives safely in a knife block. But you can't store a feeling of compassionlessness anywhere. Many people who are psychologically capable of violence are not physically set up for it: they can be small, or not apparently psychologically aggressive, or female.
Many people that I know still believe that an attitude of disrespect, toughness, sarcasm or cruelty is somehow cool. As I get older, I find that thankfully more and more of them give this up. However, many people just become more subtle with it. I wonder what these people are thinking: do they think being curled up on the ground in a ball after being kicked in the testicles is cool? Do they think coming home to find out that the neighbors will throw stones through their windows is cool? Does worrying about the safety of your spouse and children make someone a glamourous tough guy? I could think up more examples of this, but my point is that once the bottle of human respect is uncapped, you can't put the smoke of violence back in the bottle.
So, while I am far from perfect, and I can be irritable or rude on occasion, I do have a little flap of gum over my wisdom tooth to remind me that hating violence and loving disrespect is like hating water but living in the lowlands.