A warrior philosopher. The enlightened fighter. Seems like a dichotomy. It is not. It is at the same time contradiction and truth. I live this contradiction and truth everyday through my explorations of human emotionality and behavior. One of the greatest conundrums I think upon is whether to use non-violence or violence to solve world issues. This has puzzled humanity throughout all of known, human history. I have experience with both tactics. Both in successful ways and in ways that have failed. Ultimately, what I have learned is that conflict situations are fluid and, as any tactician would understand, solutions must also be fluid. I have been faced with hotheads who are reasonable people that can be talked down. I have also been in situations where I have been backed into a corner and had to fight my way out of them. I have been in situations that, in order to defend a friend or family member, I have had to put myself at physical risk. I know that in the situations where a peaceful resolution could be found I would have been in the wrong by pursuing a physically or emotionally violent solution. However, I know there are times when you must absolutely rely on physical training or emotional domination to master a situation.
I have been in a myriad of gang street fights growing up and I have been shot at at least a dozen times. A person would be hard-pressed to explain to me how I could confront these situations with non-violence. It would probably have resulted in my death. Even in the world of business negotiations and scheming a passive resolution doesn’t always present itself. There are times when brute force is necessary. However, there is a difference between brute force applied with anger and hate vs brute force applied with precision and intentions of peaceful resolution. They are not subtle differences, either.
Brute force applied with hatred and rage can only result in causing a legacy of violence. This kind of brute force stems from the most negative aspects of humanity and is usually based upon deep rooted fear.
Brute force applied with precision and intention can create a cathartic experience between rivals which can lay the groundwork for peace. When approached in this fashion there is still fluidity in achieving a non-violent solution at another time. Sometimes you have to let it play out. This crucial difference is often misunderstood and misapplied. It takes a deep understanding of conflict to be able to apply this tactic wisely.
I am not a proponent of brute force solutions. It is typically a last resort tactic. Ultimately, I do believe in fostering non-violence. However, I cannot ignore the reality of life in that some conflicts simply have no other way out except through brute force. We must become vigilant of this fact lest we become too docile.
Often, I wonder if the non-violent answers provided by leaders such as Gandhi or Martin Luther King could be applied to all situations. Looking at the situations they found themselves in, objectively, we can see the following:
– They were great, charismatic leaders who emerged at the right time which the crowd could rally behind. Thus they could apply their message en masse.
– The media played a great role in furthering their cause. Without media attention their messages may have fallen on deaf ears.
– The situations where their non-violent tactics applied were within a reasonable socio-economical and political spectrum. In Gandhi’s case, the british were honorable warriors and not insane mass killers. MLK was also able to work within a reasonable political system that wasn’t interested in totalitarianism control of its citizens.
– The issues they were fighting had room for non-violent solutions to play out because, once again, those involved were not psychopaths or megalomaniacs, but misguided, reasonable people.
There are other factors at play, but these were four main reasons there was room for non-violent solutions. I wonder what would have happened should these situations have played out in completely different environments. Would Gandhi have successfully been able to face down a mongol horde or would MLK have been able to talk himself out a spanish inquisition? What about during WWII? We cannot also forget that they were both eventually assassinated.
The progress of humanity has been written with words and blood. We have slowly moved away from bloodshed and much of it is because of the great message of non-violence. However, there is also the convenience of the economic argument. In a global economy, bloodshed tends to not help market prices. Though the inverse does happen. Especially, with the military industrial market.
Thinking upon the puzzle of humanity has created a sometimes lonely life for me. I find that in places where I have lived where society has grown complacent and sheltered discussing conflict resolution is a tricky conversation to have and makes some very uncomfortable. It is as if we have lost some of our conflict resolution language in our quest to hide from all conflict. Ignoring conflict is not the same as having resolved it. Human nature has not fundamentally changed. Those who will take advantage of a situation, will. Violence has disguised itself in the form of an insincere smile. The pure warrior philosophers find themselves backed into all manner of corners, but when violent situations arise, we are either the first to be called upon or the first to volunteer to put ourselves in harm’s way. We are the first to be considered expendable and the first to be shuttered aside after the fighting is done. This is why we have had to take on a new disguise ourselves and immerse ourselves in clandestine, philosophical warfare. This is also a form of violence of the non-physical kind.
I see humanity progressing toward enlightenment and along the way there will be times of great harmony and times of great bloodshed. To say that there is a final solution to it all is folly and wishful thinking. This applies to those who think non-violence solves everything and to those who think there is no other way but violence. Life is beyond 2 way solutions. It remains fluid and if we do not ride the flow then we are at odds with life itself.
– Warrior Philosopher Rabbit