Sunday, November 22, 2009

Aptitude For Destruction (The Modern Warrior and How We're Slowly Killing Them)

The other night at work I jokingly threw a quick jab at a co-worker who responded in a way that made me realize I'd met something unique in my life experience - a warrior. Counting him I've met four. They are a rare breed.

It wasn't anything flashy that happened. He intercepted my punch and had a palm strike that would have reconfigured the placement of my face to the back of my skull, launched and stopped, before I'd had time to blink. It's hard to explain exactly, but if you've had any martial training at all you get a sense through how people move and carry themselves, and how their center feels if you bump them, that tells you whether or not they can handle themselves or not.

But beyond that there's something else. There are real life Jason Bourne's and Jack Bauer's out there. People with an instinctive and unique skill set that gives them an almost otherworldly power in combat (at least to those who do not possess it) mixed with the strength of self to control that power. They can take pain that most cannot, they can strike like concrete, and it is on the will and skill of this Warrior class that a country is built and defended.

If you've never felt this, then my words probably sound hyperbolic so we'll set those aside for now.

What I got to thinking about because of that experience the other night, is that Warriors, who have held places of honor in cultures for most of human history, no longer seem to be offered a place anymore. Civilization seems scared of those who can use physical prowess to survive instead of organization and technology.

So we judge and push these individuals to the margins, while celebrating the flashy and boisterous folk. Sure we'll turn to the Warriors when time's are truly dire, but outside of that we often treat them like second class citizens. At the same time we hold up for admiration the idiots with no self-control who make a show of their power by bullying, pushing, or just plain intimidating those around them.

The longer a person doesn't show us they can fight, rather than respecting their control and strength as we should as a society, we tend to disrespect them more and more. Mistaking an ability to not fight with an inability to excel in battle.

Look at our popular entertainment for proof. Often we have the set up of the Warrior who has chosen a path of peace and or enlightenment. But it's always to set them up for being pushed back into conflict. The gratification comes from watching them explode. Yet we want people in reality to be "civilized", so we insist through laws and social contracts that the Warrior be less than they are, giving them no legitimate place to fit in, and often ignoring that best part of themselves that we call upon in times of need.

In the case of my co-worker, this is someone who has had to make life and death decisions on the battlefield, whether to take or protect life, and has had to do it in as hostile a terrain as possible. He did this because it was his job and he was good at it. Very good at it. Now he works in a restaurant, still does an outstanding job, but catches heat for things like not smiling enough. As though the level of outward jubilation has anything to do with competence. Do you think that if you'd had to make the decision to kill or not kill someone you had befriended that you could even conceive of why a disingenuous smile would be worth your time?

This man, and those like him, are not ungrown man children trying to fight to prove they are tough, or swinging their dicks and their conquests around to try and garner respect from their peers through often fictional tales of superhuman cocksmanship. These are the backbones of the human condition. The steadfast and sturdy who can carry through and endure things that most of us cannot imagine.

They show us what we are capable of and therefor give us the chance to be better than we think ourselves capable.

And the best we have to offer them is a hearty handshake and maybe a suggestion to get into MMA.

For much of history the Warrior class has been held in high esteem. Not fighters, because any idiot with some time can learn to fight, but Warriors. The Warriors that we've forgotten how to cherish. And the sad thing is that because of their character they will be there for us when we need them even though we do not deserve them. But we're also losing them to depression, lack of purpose, and the plain fatigue of being a person the world will not acknowledge.

There will always be Warriors, but if we do not respect and support them, find a way to make them useful and feel needed, their numbers will dwindle. When we really need them again, we may not have the numbers we need to survive.

And that will be on us. Because we'd rather look at brain dead alpha males engaged in various pissing contests, celebrity upskirts, and flirtatious morons, then embrace the strong, steady hand of a true Warrior.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I've seen so many relationships over the course of my years here - good ones, bad ones, blah, blah, blah. And nobody ever really seems to have a good insight into what makes a relationship work.

Sure they say it's communication, but people are constantly communicating these days and aren't really saying anything most of the time. So it's more about quality. But what is that quality that needs striving for.

Should we communicate our needs, our wants, our desires? Or should it be about full disclosure. Telling the other person every little thing they do that drives you nuts. Expressing honestly how you feel about the years effect on their appearance, or habits, hobbies or outlook?

I don't think it's any of that. They are all surface indicators of deeper stuff.

Support is the key it appears to me. And most of us suck at it.

When your partner feels supported by you they also feel loved, they feel your attraction, you presence, your commitment. When that feeling of support is absent then all kinds of things become potential problems. And most of us that are in relationships we like being in make an honest effort to support our S.O.

So why do we suck at it so bad? Why do so many people feel like the one person who should most care about them doesn't have their back when it comes to life goals, dreams, etc?

Largely because we try to give the support that WE want, instead of the support that our S.O. wants. You basically have two people trying to give each other the gift that they want to receive instead of the gift the other person wants. Which of course can lead to bitterness that the love of our life (or whatever) isn't giving us what we need.

Especially if there's no recognition that they are trying.

So what to do if you're having issues in a relationship (that isn't fundamentally flawed of course) may simply be to pay attention to what your partner does for you and realize that is what they want to receive from you.

If they aren't doing anything for you then it's maybe not such a good relationship to be in. Just saying.

So hopefully this'll help some of you who seem to be in a constant state of flux regarding the state of your relationships. And if not, well I've been sick for close to two weeks and am still a little weak, so I'll have something better for ya next time :-)

And no, if you're wondering, I'm not much better at this than anyone else.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Meant To Be (or God Wants You To Be a Lazy Bastard)

"Everything that doesn’t go right, goes wrong for all the right reasons."

This was a friend's FaceBook update recently and I have to say this is a mindset I've never understood. It obviously speaks to the outlook that God has a plan and everything happens as it is intended, but there's a major problem with that.

People, pretty much all people, believe in free will.

If you don't think we get to make our own decisions then there's no point to anything. We're just pistons in a great big God machine. Not only does that not fit with our experiences, but also doesn't fit with our actions. Why lock up murders, rapists, bankers, and clowns if they have no control over their actions. That would make them as sublimely innocent (all of us in fact) as dandelion seeds.

From a Christian perspective, freewill is an essential part of faith, because only in choosing belief can one be saved.


People also seem to want to insist that God has an infallible plan too. That he is all knowing and everything that happens is a result of a certain timetable and divine plan.

Well let me plainly say that if everything that happens to people is a direct result of God's manipulation of us, then at best the dude's a scientist using us as lab rats, and at worst he's a mean motherfucker making life difficult and painful just because he can.

Don't get pissed off at me, I'm just pointing out the inconsistencies in a certain perspective. I actually think that God, in whatever form you worship divinity, is a hell of a lot cooler than that.

This is the point where many will say "God works in mysterious ways". There is some merit to this statement. A chess master can see an entire game in their head, while I can barely see two moves in the future. So the master might sacrifice a rook for no apparent reason to a novice such as myself, but in fact is using it as an essential part of the end game.

But let's not get too happy about that statement. In the Chess analogy there is an opponent. And God, as typically conceived, has no opponent. Mankind may be in a struggle with Satan, but it's no problem for God to put that sucker in his place. So if there's no opponent, then God is playing both sides of the board, which means any moves made are for his own edification and amusement, not in the pursuit of any meaningful victory.

In other words, there is no specific reason why anything needs to be any certain way.

So no doubt God can see consequences far beyond mortal comprehension, but that doesn't explain away the reason behind bad things happening if indeed he is an all powerful, all knowing, all controlling being.

Unless, of course, you think He's just plain mean.

All evidence would seem to point to God being aware of all possibilities, even knowing what choices we can/will make and how they will effect humanity through all their iterations. But not changing things. Not controlling us. Not altering the consequences of our choices.

So when things happen, good, bad or indifferent, they just happen. If thinking they happen for a reason helps you out of a rough spot then do what you need to do, but it takes away the beauty of the human experience.

After all, the logical extension of "Everything happens for a reason" is that we should just stop doing whatever we're doing, stay where we are and see what happens. If something is required of us, it'll happen. If not, then staying put must be what is supposed to happen.

Yes it sounds like a ridiculous conclusion, but it's not my theory.

What I prefer to believe in is the ingenuity and grit of people. When something unfortunate happens we are hurt, we grieve, we feel anger, but we also discover new pathways because we are forced to consider new circumstances. In trial we may find a strength we never knew we had, a choice we could not have previously conceived, or a perspective we hadn't considered.

So on balance I'd say no, I don't believe everything happens for a reason, and I don't think most intelligent people really deeply hold to that either. Not in a preordained plan finding it's way to fruition sort of way.


Everything that happens does let us grow and change, so if you consider that a positive for people both individually and as a species, which I do, then I suppose that could be the reason things happen. So that we can be given opportunities to discover greatness within ourselves.

And if that's the plan of the deity you dig, then it's a damn good one.