We Need an American Haka!

Aggression is defined as “hostile or violent behavior or attitudes toward another; readiness to attack or confront”.   

Silva in 1980, stated that there are 3 types of aggression:

Hostile Aggression

  • Intent to harm
  • Goal to harm
  • Unusual effort and energy expenditure

Instrumental / Channeled Aggression

  • Intent to harm
  • Goal to win
  • No anger

Assertive Behaviour

  • No intent to harm
  • Legitimate force
  • Unusual effort and energy expenditure

We’ve seen some successes regarding aggression here in the US.

  • Kids are taught to use their words in lieu of their fists.
  • We’ve improved our rhetoric and have decreased our divisive discourse (less offensive labels are used to describe those different from ourselves, for example).

However, I think a lot of people got their anger out verbally. As we’ve become more politically correct, (rightfully so), we haven’t given folks a healthy-aggression alternative.

Then we stupidly took away recess and decreased physical education in our schools. We’ve changed athletics from affordable, multi-sports-per-year, fun, physical outlets that taught teamwork to serious, high-commitment-required, Club set-ups for only the best athletes with tons of cash.

And we told folks to do more yoga.

Look. I love yoga. But you know what? You can’t always breathe or meditate this shit away. For many a yogi the meditative euphoria comes at the end of class, after an hour of sweaty, movement. If you have PTSD, anxiety, or have suffered from trauma, your nervous system needs to be balanced via an energetic release before you can find true comfort in your body.

This decrease in healthy-aggression outlets and general movement (with nothing to replace it with) along with an increase in stress and trauma has been percolating for some time. Enter Trump who for 18 months gave everyone permission to let their bigoted genies out of their bottles and it’s no wonder so much anger is bubbling to the surface.

I think we need an American Haka because I see a large subgroup of people feeling quite comfortable putting their violent, uncontrollable aggressions out there for everyone to see. So why not give people a healthy way to let it all out?

The Haka is considered to be an assertive behavior. Sure, it’s intent is to intimidate when done before a rugby match, but when performed at a wedding (like the one above), a funeral, or a retirement service, it is simply a sign of respect that spiritually connects people to one’s culture and ancestors. When you watch the video notice the release at the end.  The love. The connection.

As much as I would love to spend all my time focusing on ways to deal with the upcoming political shit show were heading towards, I’m more concerned with people’s safety right now.

I recently read about a woman who, because she was cold, was wearing a scarf around her head. Out of nowhere some asshole yanks it off from behind. When she turned around and he realized she was a white woman making a fucking fashion statement (not Muslim as he had assumed), he seemed shocked.

For a second.

But then he decided his initial xenophobic plan could easily shift into a sexual assault so he grabbed her breasts and crotch and slammed her against her car before running away.

What the fuck?  This is not okay. We’re not living the movie, The Purge, and yet this is becoming our new reality.

So if any New Zealanders out there would like to come help us, please hurry. I don’t want to offend the Maori people by hijacking their war cry. But please understand. We’re desperate and The Donald is heading to the oval. We need our own version quickly because it’s only going to get worse after his swearing in.

And finally – please don’t waste my time telling me how violent the Haka is and all we need is more peace and love. Peace and love are great but chaos and hate are on the rise. They aren’t just opposing forces that you can switch on and off. Rather, they’re part of the same continuum and as such must flow into each other. Like how night morphs into day or sadness eventually slides into happiness. The yin/yang circle best illustrates this concept:


You have to transform them not repress them.

If you struggle to understand this, research Irene Lyon’s work, Peter Levine, and realize this is a complicated, nuanced problem that requires multiple solutions. This is simply my interpretation of one of them. You can certainly disagree but do it respectfully. Or better yet, come up with your own idea, write a post about it and put it out there.

Note: This post was edited and renamed on December 29, 2016.

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