Fight or Flight

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.


  1. Great video. I took a different approach growing up.

    I learned my violent method of conflict resolution from my parents’, who were always fighting. I was beat with belts, Sizzler tracks, and whatever was handy in the moment. My parents even had a leather strap fashioned for the specific purpose of modifying our behavior. My mother would drag us down the hallway by our hair as a taste of what was to come.

    I have lost count of the number of physical fist fights I’ve had. My last one was in college, but I’ve been close to throwing a fist well into my adult life.

    The only “pride” I take in my violent behavior is my obsessive focus on thwarting bullies. I have never picked a fight or had one picked with me. I have only entered a fight to introduce balance – violent balance. I have always stood up for kids like the one self-described by the gentleman in the video. “Bullies make me angry and they only seem to understand one thing,” I tell myself.

    My children have witnessed my aggressive reactions to the behaviors of others. Always bullies. Always violent bullies. I have never raised a hand to my own children and cannot imagine doing so – ever! I have always told my children that mine is not a good example. I tell them how proud I am of their resistance to violence. I have told my son that he is the bigger man for not following his father’s example and that I would be disappointed if he ever entered a fight. I try to rationalize my hypocrisy as a carry-over from my childhood, which I also explain to my children.

    Neither of my children have ever been in a fight (19 and 17).

    I don’t think I’m cured, but age has calmed me down. I witness the behaviors of our zero sum society and I am reminded of those bullies on the playground (daily) and the one pulling me down the hallway by the hair. I can’t help but think the only thing these bullies will ever understand is an anti-bully engaging them on terms they can understand. I remain in awe of peaceful protesters and I respect them. I’m just not capable of a passive reaction to people overreaching, overtaking, and over controlling, simply because they can.

    I’m a work in progress.

  2. Very thought provoking and educational — the segment is excellent. I would like to see the entire documentary. My comments are limited, because I am still absorbing and processing.
    Thank you for the insight.

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