Friday, October 8, 2010

Chip Weighs in on the "Warrior" Discussion

Every so often, I find myself speaking to someone who questions what it truly means to be a Warrior. I am sure there are many different images that come to mind when you hear someone referred to in that light. Is the running back who rushes for 1000 yards in a single season a Warrior? How about the Heavy Weight Boxing Champion who wins most of his bouts by knockout, or the MMA fighter who is undefeated?

"Bushido" means "way of the warrior," and the word "Samurai" literally means "one who serves." On the surface at least, a solider or police officer must surely qualify for the title. Does graduating the police academy or completing basic training make one a Warrior? Perhaps....

Let's consider this from another perspective: Trained mechanics know how to change the oil in a car. I know how to change the oil in a car. Does that qualify me to call myself a mechanic? Certainly not. I am missing practically all of the other skills necessary to deserve that title. Using that logic, is it possible that one can fight and even serve others, without being a Warrior? I offer that someone can be an extremely skilled fighter or a selfless public servant without being a Warrior. So, what then is the difference?

Physical competence is very important. I think a Warrior must be skilled in combat and properly conditioned. She must be able to protect others and have the confidence to face deadly threats. The Warrior doesn't have to fight, but she must be prepared to do so if the need arises. I think a Warrior must have mental clarity. He must know what he can do and be astutely aware of his limitations and options. The Warrior understands that battles are won or lost in the preparation. A Warrior should have a spiritual certainty that permits him to lay down his life in the service of others. These things are all critical to Warriorship, but they are not unique to the Warriors among us. There is another, invaluable ingredient.

The true Warrior understands that the most important battle to be fought is an internal one, and the foe is extremely formidable. The Warrior's battle is the battle against his own fears, biases, prejudices and loyalties that prevent him from acting for what is right. It is a battle against self. A Warrior respects the humanity of all persons and, as a result, respects their adversarial potential as well as their individual rights. The Warrior is tactically and interpersonally effective. The ideal balance of compassion, love, virtue and viciousness. A Warrior faces ALL her fears, both internal and external.

The path of the Warrior is not for the feint of heart. Some of the attributes appear soft on the surface, but nothing could be further from the truth. Many people are at war with the notion of valuing the humanity of others. I was for a long time, and I continue to struggle with it everyday. The battlefield is in our hearts and minds, and the true Warrior exists for the fight....