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.