people don’t ‘win’ life, they live life

Barnstar trophy
Barnstar trophy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My good friend Paul posted this as a comment on my “about” page. We are usualy on the same page on this sort of stuff and I thought this comment was such a good encapsulation of my mindset that it deserved its own post.

I don’t think that a civilian leading an everyday life should have to adopt/adapt/’emulate’ (read copy) a ‘warrior’ lifestyle in order to find a codex of values and character traits to deal with the challenges of life. In many ways it can be counter productive, IMO.

The character traits and virtues have not been clearly defined, but I am working with the assumption that they include the basics such as Integrity, Honesty, Moral and Physical courage, commitment….and the like. Well, those same qualities are evident in the Boy Scouts, most postive and successful business organizations, healthy religious practices, personal growth programs, philosophical pursuits of self awareness….

The BIG difference between using the ‘warrior’ model/role model and any of these other possible options is two major things:

1. The basic belief that the warrior is/will be in conflict with someone or something.

2. The basic belief that victory is the end goal/object…that there IS an end goal/objective at all.

There is a problem when approaching life with a ‘conflict’ mentality in a civilian (please read ‘civilized’) world. Basically, the ‘warrior’ mentality requires one to see every situation as a fight, every challenge or problem as a conflict. That means the ‘warrior’s’ mind will define someone or something as the ‘enemy’ whether there is one or not.

On the second issue, life is what it is, it is cyclical and there really is no ‘end goal’ objective, IMO. People don’t ‘win’ life, they live life. In the military/LEO, all those values/virtues are meant to keep a person focused on completing the objective, but – as we have seen too many times with war veterans, there isn’t much help in the ‘warrior’ mentality with how to cope with the aftermath (returning home to civilian life at the end of deployment, after combat, after trauma…).

I think a more properly aligned mentallity for civilian martial arts training – especially those systems/schools that are trying to be reality based or self defense focused, is one based on being a good citizen, the legal system of the country/state/county/town or city, and personal family upbringing.

I don’t normally pull the ‘been there done that’ game, so I hope this is taken for what it is meant to be: Substantiation of my position, but I’ve been a civilian and a serviceman, I’ve been trained as a teacher by degree, desire, and experience via the service, college, career, and mentorship.

Based on those experiences and trainings, I don’t see ‘warrior’ mimicry as the best choice of role modeling.

Personally, I’ve used the term ‘Everyday Hero’ for the type of ‘image’ that encapsulates the values and virtues that I would like to see my students and children strive for at times.

-Paul Martin

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5 thoughts on “people don’t ‘win’ life, they live life”

  1. A warrior in the sense that I understand the meaning does not live in a world of conflict. The warrior accepts the fact that life could end at any moment and so the warrior attempts to learn and experience all that a full life can offer. A warrior knowing that they will not experience all that life has to offer does not regret the attempt just pities the result of not knowing and experiencing everything.

  2. I think that the “warrior” term is very “loose” these days. There is the more “new age” approach like yours, that has a metaphysical/spiritual/self-improvement angle. There is the “sports angle” where athletes on the “sports field of battle” are defined as “warriors”. Each of these (IMO only) kind of leave or ignore the “WAR” part out of the equation. Then theres the “strict interpretation” types like myself that look at warriors as people who “put it all on the line” out of duty and service to others on a field of conflict (of one sort or another). Im sure there are others out there as well but they are probably just flavors of those three. Im not on a crusade to quash other peoples beliefs though, to each his own…just throwing my opinion to the wall and seeing what sticks here.

  3. The new age/peaceful warrior image is an ideal image in the same way that the Chivalric Knight or Bushido Samurai was an ideal image. Both these ideals were created outside of the actual ‘war’ setting and are metaphorical.

    To ignore the fact that ‘war’ is at the root of ‘warrior’ leads to the idea that a warrior does not live in a state of conflict. What is the point of martial practice or ‘warriors’ if there is no conflict?

    Conflicts exist. They might not always be ‘war’ conflicts, but friction between people based on different goals and/or ideas (like the term ‘warrior’ discussed here 🙂 ) are real and need to be addressed, not ignored/denied.

    I think the idea behind your “Warrior” term would be closer to what I would term someone living a full and rich life. I don’t feel the need to wrap that personal enrichment up in an image like a warrior. Being me is enough as I evolve and grow.

  4. In my interpretation of living the “warrior” life, I am not so much trying to “win at life” as I am trying to not let life’s hard knocks defeat me. And sometimes, in very trying times, like right now, that is about all that keeps me from waving that white flag of surrender. So, there really are “enemies” out there – not necessarily people, but obstacles the warrior in me (all of us) need to overcome…

  5. I’m more literal in my definition/use of “Warrior” so the mindset of a warrior (as I define it) just doesn’t work in the civilian world. After coming off active duty and/or deployments, I’ve experienced the adjustment phase of returning to the ‘real world’ was all about retraining my mindset of a “Warrior” to that of a “Civilian.”

    The metaphorical/iconic image of ‘warrior’ has become the embodiment of a whole list of character traits that recreational martial artists/civilians hope to adhere. For me, as a Civilian now, I would use the “Stand up Citizen” model as the image to aspire to, not ‘Warrior.’

    Having served with ‘Warrior’ types, the typical martial artist’s image of ‘warrior’ is a romantic ideal that no one can live up to, the real ‘warriors’ or civilians.

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