If you have been following our posts, then you must have read about Jerry, the guy who went hiking and eventually got to feel tranquility deep inside of him as he got to the peak of the mountain.
While on the mountain, Jerry thinks about his life, family, and work. He begins to reflect on future plans. He counts himself as a fortunate man.
The Encounter With The Fox
While sipping water, he sees a large kit fox from afar, striding heavily and sniffing the ground. Jerry is struck with awe by the fox’s movement and the beauty of nature. The more the fox moves, stride by stride, Jerry becomes interested and aware of its movements. The fox now has all his attention. This is the ‘strong interest point’ on the Emotions scale.
Now Jerry is becoming exhausted. He liked his trip and plans to go back home. He has reached his satisfaction and boredom has set in. The view and the fox slowly ascending the mountain is no longer interesting.
As Jerry starts his journey down the mountain, he notices the fox climbing up towards him. He is uncomfortable as he remembers other people’s stories on how they had bad encounters with foxes. He also knows how much panic that foxes face when they are confronted by humans. Immediately the fox lazily strides towards him, it lifts it’s head and notices him, stops and hesitates. Jerry now feels hostile towards the fox and decides to chase him away. What does he do? He waves his hand and shouts to the fox to drive him off. An act of ‘Open Hostility’.
The fox is aware now that the individual is hostile towards him and wants to eliminate him. The fox is faced with a decision – to change direction and distance himself or continue the path despite the fact that the person ahead will despise the encounter.
Curious fox continues to walk towards him and Jerry is now aware of a threat to his survival and of the imminent danger.
Since we react to a threat to our survival with Open Hostility, it transforms into Anger when it intensifies.
Jerry is angry with the fox for closing in on him and also with himself because he could have been warm and safe at home. He is angry with his sister for encouraging his hiking, angry with the authorities for not fencing the area to keep off certain animals. As the fox gets close, Jerry’s anger is extended to the creator of the fox and goes into a rage, throws stones and sticks at the fox and even brings out a small fruit knife to prepare for the fox’s attack.
The fox, however, keeps walking on basking in the sunshine towards a Steve that is fear struck.
His life is in danger, his survival is unclear and he might die. The fox comes nearer and he thinks of fooling it with a trick to save his life. Jerry lies down on the ground, pressing his face against the wet soil, hiding the knife, covering himself with his heavy coat. This is the state of Covert Hostility on the Emotions Scale.
In Open Hostility, we show our loathing and resist any threat to our survival with visible aggression. When it fails, and the threat increases, anger is replaced by fear and our actions become tricky and covert, thus bringing us into the ‘Covert Hostility’.
Jerry feels the fox’s footsteps approaching then the fox’s breath above him. He starts panicking because his survival is ending. This is the area of Fear. When the fox touches him with his snout, Jerry recalls images of his family which he will never see again. He surrenders knowing he has lost to the fox. He burst into tears because of his Grief hoping the fox can detect sadness and have pity.
When he feels the fox’s heavy paw, he knows no hope remains. His body may soon become fox food so he is down to the Apathy level on the Scale of Existence, just a little above death.
A human in this state does not react for death is almost certain. All hope is lost and prolonging survival is impossible. Deep apathy gives rise to a catatonic state resembling death. The body is motionless, feels nothing and reacts to nothing.
When the fox approaches, it’s not hungry because it had gone on a hunt earlier. It finds Jerry’s coat to have a repulsive smell and instead continues on its journey to the mountain top. Jerry dares to carefully lift his head, sighs with relief as he sees the fox’s backside moving far from him. He broke down as he thought of what could have happened if he had been killed by the fox. He hurriedly gathers his things and returns to the path that leads home.
He is then plagued with a thought on how he will trick the fox if it crosses him again. He reaches the Covert Hostility line in the Emotions Scale again.
How Covert Hostility Manifests
In this stage, we secretly plot ways to hurt our imagined enemies.
We see this take place every day. Starting from that dear aunt who smiles sweetly but is always first to note that we have gained weight, we look older and we are a failure.
People who are in Covert Hostility seem concerned about our well-being but they hurt and annoy us. It can be seen everywhere in the following characters:
– A seemingly industrious worker who actually destroys and breaks things.
– A partner that showers plenty of gifts on his lover yet cheats on her.
– A child who eats up all the cookies or smears mud on the carpet with his shoes.
– Leaders who have promised to make their nation better but ended up bringing hunger and destruction.
As Jerry walks down the mountain, fuming at how his amazing day had ended in humiliation, he meets another hiker going up the mountain. His hostility then makes him mutter, “Watch out, this mountain stinks!”
Does it really? Does Jerry actually care or is it just another reaction to his anger?