I have always walked away from a fight.
Some may think that smart and others may think it cowardice but the reason, in my case, is much deeper than that.
My early fights were always with my brother who, being several years older, always won. Having lost physically, however, never changed my opinion on what the fight may have been about so the fight made no difference except to leave me in pain and my brother feeling superior which I always knew he was.
I only fought with my brother when I lost my temper so quite early on I learned to bottle up my anger and not let it show. Since brothers must fight (ask any mother…it appears to be a requirement) my brother would tease and taunt me into losing my temper until finally I broke and he could beat the crap out of me. The more I bottled things up the worse my anger when I finally broke but still I would always lose the fight.
Don't get me wrong we loved each other and got along well most of the time in fact I got to go places with him that would be disallowed on my own.
One of those places was out in the fields where he and his friends would play cricket.
I was allowed to be there but nobody wanted me on his team so I was relegated to deep outfielder where I could run and get balls they were too lazy to go for. As with everything else in my life if I was going to do a job I would learn to do it well so I developed a good throwing arm. I had watched others and my throw was low, similar to skipping pebbles on a lake. This meant that the ball climbed slowly as it headed for the wicket, which was the intended target, and usually arrived after only one or two bounces even from the edge of the field.
One day two of my brother's friends were being particularly obnoxious to me before and during the game but I held in my anger as usual and didn't rise to the bait. I had no interest in the game, since I was not officially on either team, so when either one of them was between me and the wicket I aimed my throw directly at them. They thought I was just throwing wide but I was pleased that I made them duck several times to avoid being hit in the head by a cricket ball.
In cricket a wicket is made of three stumps driven into the ground with bails placed on top.
After the game I was carrying some stumps to the bag when one of the antagonists stopped in front of me and squirted a water pistol in my face. It was the straw that broke the camel's back and several months of pent up anger broke through the flood gates. I guess the kid saw something in my face because he turned and ran. I took one of the stumps, a hardwood pole about 3 feet long with a sharp metal end for driving into the ground, and hurled it, javelin style, at the boy. At the last split second before it left my hand I had a moment of clarity and moved my aim to miss him. The stump brushed his upper arm as it flew past him. Once released my anger was gone and I realised that I had almost killed, or seriously injured, someone because he squirted water in my face. From that day on I decided no one would ever make me lose my temper again especially if I was carrying anything that could be considered a weapon.
Since that time few people have seen me lose my temper. I can get very angry but still keep things under control.

There was another incident many years later.
I had walked a young girl home after our Wednesday night dance.
At the dance her older sister had left early because she had not been feeling well. She had asked me if I could make sure her sister got home safely after the dance. She was only thirteen but even if she had been seventeen, like me, no boy of my generation would have been happy allowing her to walk home alone in the dark so I promised I would look after her.
I was in charge of the music that night and also on lock up so we had to wait until everyone was out before we could leave and then we walked the mile to her home. She mentioned that she was now late for her curfew so we hurried but I assured her that her sister would have told her parents not to worry.
As we walked up to her garden gate her father arrived from the opposite direction. I could tell by his walk that he had been drinking but was surprised when he grabbed his daughter, slapped her hard across the face, and ordered her into the house. She ran crying up the path.
I was livid at his treatment of her but he wasn't finished.
He turned to me and in words I cannot repeat here, interspersed with some of the most obnoxious cuss words I knew, told me to stop trying to have sex with his underage daughter and keep her out 'til all hours of the night. ( I think that would be a reasonable interpretation of what he said. )
He stepped towards me and I saw his fist starting the swing at my head. I avoided the punch, I was young and he was drunk, but once more my anger boiled over at such Neanderthal behavior and it was all released into the fist I directed at his solar plexus.
He went down to the ground but I didn't help him up. I left him sitting on his doorstep and got out of the area as quickly as possible.
Later I found out that his wife had read him the riot act that night and, as far as I know, he never hit his little girl again but I did feel I could have handled it better if I had not hit him. He could not have hurt me if I had just walked away and my parting comment as I left didn't help anyone.
“Stop judging everyone by your own *!@?#&!, stupid standards.”
That was probably the first time I had ever sworn at one of my elders.
In this instance the result was good but I couldn't help thanking my lucky stars that I was not carrying a screwdriver or anything lethal at the time.
I will always continue to walk away from a fight or an argument and I suppose in retrospect it is really both smart and cowardly.
Smart because there is always a better way and cowardly because I am afraid of what the consequences could be.