Questioning Warrior-ness

in #society19 days ago


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.

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I don´t agree. To be able to defend yourself is nowadays more important than since decades. Of course depending on where you live. If you are very rich and can hide yourself behind fences and have butlers doing shopping for you, then indeed you don´t need to fight. You use rather your money to defend yourself. But there now still rich countries which are doomed to end in civil war. It may sound far-fetched, but still...

I hear what you're saying. Minneapolis where I live can get pretty rough. Here's today's news from my neighborhood. I've been attacked and had to defend myself in these streets more than once. But I feel like we could teach young people to defend themselves without also teaching them that violence is part of their identities.

Indeed, never start with violence, only if no other ways left.

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.

It's a big if. More attention should be paid to how that happens, and more importantly how it stays a free global society. Because the risk of a global society that can't keep itself free might be greater than having competing nation states.

Although a gradual deescalation of national belligerence/defense and their means would need to go along with it, there would have to be much more done towards that goal for it to be achieved. Becoming less warrior-oriented would be an obvious afterthought with other groundwork laid.

Another potential solution, well-trodden in the past, is to silo the warrior culture and mentality, to not let it spill so much into the general culture. This is the idea of having a warrior class. Of course this comes with its own well-trodden problems if not kept in check.

Makes sense. And I totally agree that the freedom piece is the most important. Still, on a mythic (if not practical) level, I'd like to see the warrior archetype give way to something less inherently adversarial.

I guess warrior architype is really fading things away as we don't expect and I don't think probably we should consider it a good thing or not

Could be.

Yes definitely

I feel this is just like a coincidence
I had something like a physical fight today, lol
I was robbed

Sorry to hear that. Hope you're okay and that you recover quickly.

Super interesting. I think the teachings of nonviolent activism can be a great start to a world not so defined by warrior mentalities.