The easiest way for me to describe the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction, accronymed as MAD, is a state of madness where two or more foes, guaranteed that their next line of action will be the end of both of them, are will to go ahead and press “start”.
“Dictionarily”, Mutually Assured Destruction is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender.
This is often the line you hear when people start talking about a third world war, or whenever tension is rising between one of the five Nuclear Weapon State. The fact that the USA is almost always one of the countries involved in said aggression is a topic for discussion another day.
What is your business with mutually assured destruction you ask?
Let me be calm and bold enough to put aside the threat of annihilistic catastrophe. Let me be foolish as to ignore an existential risk. I should now talk about people who live their daily lives courting trouble and going headfirst into zero-sum situations.
Time and again, I have seen people get into a disagreement, allow it degenerate into conflict, then both sides begin to contemplate scenarios that are guaranteed to lead to mutually assured destruction.
From a scorned lover, to a cheat being cheated on, to ignored sharing formulas among thieves. From business going awry, to business or academic competition, to a turned down love proposition.
As much as we always want to have our way, we tend to see only what we stand to gain from our actions. Truly, revenge is a dish best served cold, but then, some of the people you are trying to get revenge on have forgotten their offense.
Some of them were never aware that they offended you. In other cases, you were not hurt. It was your pride and ego that took a bruising. You believed others just watched you get put down, meanwhile, no one even noticed you.
The madness of anger consumes you and you want to get back at them.
Anger is blinding. You want to throw coals of flame at someone and forget you’ll burn your hands first. Like the biblical Samson, you want to pull down a building, but forget that you will be buried alive in its rubles.
More importantly, you forget that your action will elicit a reaction from your adversary and their revenge will likely be more devastating than yours. Now you’ll have to up the ante and who knows where this will end?
Revenge truly is a dish best served cold, but often, it is best to throw out this meal with the dish. Letting go of an offense could leave you happier than revenge will. It won’t always feel like it, but the resources you would have expended on that hurt can be channeled towards healing.
And if you are someone who is always caught up in numerous situations like this, it is time for you to have an introspection. As a wise man once told me, there is almost no difference between the man who is always looking for trouble and the man that others are constantly looking for his trouble.