The above image was made with stable diffusion using the prompt 'warriors engaged in combat.'
In the '80s and '90s, media was saturated with warrior archetypes. Growing up in this era, toxic masculinity was celebrated at every turn. In the movies, conflicts were resolved with fistfights or bullets. Violence was glorified and often intertwined with male identity.
At the same time, there were cultural forces attempting to reinterpret the warrior as more noble and less warlike. Joanna Macy popularized the Tibetan myth of The Shambhala Warrior, who dismantles the weapons of barbarian powers with compassion and insight. Dan Millman wrote Way of the Peaceful Warrior, which described the lessons a young gymnast learned from his spiritual teacher. In these and other ways, warrior-ness was broadened to include antiwar ideas.
Today, the language of warriors and and war is everywhere. Defense Department influence over Hollywood has made hundreds of major motion pictures into thinly veiled military propaganda delivery systems. Wars on drugs and terrorism convert taxpayer dollars into human misery. There are culture wars in academia and storage wars on TV.
The cowboy is perhaps America's most iconic warrior. Actual cowboys contributed to the genocide of Indigenous peoples, both by killing them directly and by slaughtering nearly all of the bison. And yet, all over the world, people still idolize the American cowboy, who settles disputes with gunfights and only shoots the bad people.
Warrior archetypes have been around for as long as civilization. The Epic of Gilgamesh may be the oldest written story and it concerns a warrior. This archetype was probably useful for most of human history. Even now, with warring tribes in many parts of the world, the warrior may have value. But I do hope its value is diminishing.
If we're ever to transition from a world of adversarial nations into a free global society, we might need to stop teaching young men to identify as warriors. Maybe that means abandoning the archetype and maybe it means recasting warrior-ness as something more metaphorical than physical. That's a tall order in a culture where police go through "warrior trainings" that affirm their most aggressive and harmful impulses. And here in Minneapolis, even the political will to stop these kinds of trainings doesn't necessarily stop them. From an article about it:
In 2019, Mayor Jacob Frey announced the city would ban so-called warrior cop training, which paints neighborhoods as battlefields and police as front-line soldiers saving society from lawlessness. ... These reforms apparently haven't stuck, according to the recent state investigation, which says a "warrior mindset" still pervades training at the city's police academy from the day cadets start.
Personally, I think that the era of the warrior has passed. No matter how righteous a fight seems, actually physically fighting about it rarely improves the situation. This only becomes more true as our problems become more complex. Hopefully someday our warrior archetype will be replaced by the diplomat archetype or something similarly operative in modern society.
Read my novels:
- Small Gods of Time Travel is available as a web book on IPFS and as a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt.
- The Paradise Anomaly is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Psychic Avalanche is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- One Man Embassy is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Flying Saucer Shenanigans is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Rainbow Lullaby is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- The Ostermann Method is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Blue Dragon Mississippi is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
See my NFTs:
- Small Gods of Time Travel is a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt that goes with my book by the same name.
- History and the Machine is a 20 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on my series of oil paintings of interesting people from history.
- Artifacts of Mind Control is a 15 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on declassified CIA documents from the MKULTRA program.