It must be my upbringing, surrender and powerlessness are just things I cannot do. Perhaps it’s because I was brought up in a military family, perhaps it’s because my grandparents were Army medics in the second world war, may be as well its because my grandparents were also European Jews who escaped the Shoah to Britain to fight against nazism.
I grew up with the ideology that you should never surrender, do not let the enemy win, never back down or if you’re in a situation where you can’t win, retreat to chose the battle of your own making.
I had quite a rough childhood, before the age of one, my mother and real father separated. It was an enforced separation as he was sent to prison for a long time. In a nutshell, another man told my father that he had got my mother pregnant. In response my father assaulted him and during the attack, systematically proceeded to cut half of the mans face off.
The fall out was that the man who my father assaulted family (and it was a large family) took the phrase “sins of the father” quite literally. When I started school at the age of five, that’s when the attack started, older boys would attack me, they and their friends would gang up on me.
One day my grandfather explained to me, that I should never surrender as it makes you weaker. He followed through with pick your time and place for a battle, that and if the have a stick get a bigger stick. So taking his advice, I was six at this point, I got a stone and waited in the corner of the playground, with the wall to my back and waited for my tormenters. When they showed up, I held the stone in my hand and clubbed the ringleader with it, bursting his eardrum. Well it stopped the physical assaults by other boys, I was tarred even more with being just like my father.
My grandfathers advice was flawed, in the context of a European Jew in the British army from 1942 onwards, it makes sense, he really could never surrender as it was an actual death sentence for him. And as a frontline doctor, in Montgomery’s Eighth Army, he was in the frontline often, his specialism was Forward Aid Surgery.
So from that playground incident onwards I will stand and fight, I cannot surrender, its too deeply ingrained. For me, surrender is a death of self, don’t back down, never give up, fight to the last, survive and overcome. My grandfather was a big proponent of Civil Rights and very early on he introduced me to the likes of Ghandi and MalcolmX, in hindsight, I should have never taken “by any means necessary” so literally.
Much of what I have said above applies in my mind to powerlessness, I have willpower, I can make the conscious choice to take charge and to make my own decisions, nothing will dominate me and take away my power of choice and my power to overcome. I am not powerless, I can say what I want, state my feelings and act upon them.
But acceptance I do understand.