We were talking about our late cat Chewie, a real fighter in his youth. He got pretty torn up sometimes–a chunk out of one ear, all the fur on his tail stripped off one time–but at some point he aged out of it. Instead of getting killed by whichever ascendant young tom bested him, he must have opted out. Cats do this. You can watch them fight; they seldom fight to the death or to dangerous injury (although bites can turn septic). Instead, they size each other up and after some hissing, growling, and possibly a tussle, one backs down. Rather than get killed, or pull its gang into it to start a war, it crouches down a little (“See! I’m smaller than you! I’m not going to take you on!”), slinks away, and settles down to lick its literal and figurative wounds.
We humans have some ways of ritualizing our dominance struggles–Go Giants!–but we still have a lot to learn from “the lower animals” like the cat on the right about how to extract ourselves from a fight before we, and a lot of other people, get killed.