Original article copied in full: War broke out on a sunny afternoon at my small suburban library. It began as conflicts often do - with faint rumblings of discontent escalating into wholesale slaughter. Apparently, the only free computer had been double-booked. An older woman with grey hair was insisting that she had booked a terminal, but somehow her booking had not been registered. The librarian told the woman bluntly she must have made a mistake. Affronted and defensive, she dug in and refused to concede. The young man using the computer looked up nervously from his YouTube clip but said he had a genuine booking. Then the real fun began. When the computer next to the contested terminal suddenly became free, the jilted woman claimed it and began her assault. ''Hard to find anyone with decency around here,'' she sniped at the young man. ''Yeah, yeah, whatever,'' he replied. For the next 10 minutes, while typing on her keyboard, she threw sarcastic barbs his way, to which he replied with increasing venom. Finally, the woman got up from her emailing chores and left the library. But not before one last shot: ''Such a nice day, such a nice person … pig!'' I watched this scene with fascination and horror. How common it is for a person who feels wronged in some way to abuse or carp at another. Often it happens when a neighbour is rude, or on the road when another car cuts us off, or a parking inspector gives us a ticket even though we only dashed into the shop for a minute. We just can't help firing a parting salvo to soothe our wounded egos. The volcano of our rage explodes in response to the hurt of the blow. Feeling abused, we abuse back. But does it have to be like this? Do we have to bare our fangs when we feel piqued? The key has to be emotional detachment - the ability to step back from a conflict and act in a way that embraces everybody involved, not just yourself. We are not generally taught the art and skill of emotional detachment. At school, we are urged to think critically, to inspect and dissect thoughts and arguments - which is about the exercise of the mind. What about emotions? In our rationally ordered, mind-oriented society, emotions are not considered the main game, yet they are hugely important and often influence and override what we are thinking. The idea that as human beings we have a core or essence that is independent of our feelings, that we don't have to identify with our emotions and can stand back and not be consumed by them, is powerful and subversive. Advertising relies on the manipulation of emotions and desires. How many of us go out and buy something when we are feeling unhappy, lonely, or depressed? After the September 11 terror attacks, then New York mayor Rudy Giuliani told his citizens to go shopping as a way of recovering from their shock and grief. Of course, politicians are skilled manipulators, tweaking voters' emotions of fear, greed and insecurity. Emotional detachment does not mean unfeeling or cold. It means recognising there is a choice about how to respond to a feeling. We don't have to be slaves to our emotions. Another person may be abusive, they may hurt or wrong us in some way, but recognising that we have a choice in our response creates the potential for acting in a way in which we don't throw our own toxic fuel on the fire of a conflict. So how could the protagonists in the library have acted differently? The librarian should not have bluntly told the woman she had made a mistake, but tried to offer her something positive (''It's terrible you've missed out on the computer, can I get you on another one as soon as possible?''). Likewise, the young man could have expressed his sympathy for the woman's plight and offered to help her make a booking for next time. He certainly should not have responded to her abusive baiting. For her part, the woman could have channelled her anger and frustration by firmly asking the librarian to show her the booking system and ensure that she was able to use the next available computer. It is true that these are ideal responses, but they are possible and they do happen. Sometimes all it takes is one or more deep breaths before we speak or act. But it begins fundamentally with the understanding that we are not our emotions, that war is not inevitable. Sasha Shtargot is a freelance writer. I think I agree that too many of the people in our society don't have enough awareness of their emotions and the effect said emotions have on their actions/thoughts/beliefs/etc. Could say more, but I'm more interested in what other people have to say about the article. So please share .