In Trying To Avoid One Harm, You May Cause A Worse One

Aesop tells the following tale called “The Son and the Painted Lion.”  A fearful old man was worried about his robust son’s enthusiasm for hunting wild game.  He imagined that the son’s courage might go too far, and result in serious bodily injury or death.  So he did everything he could to shelter and sequester his son; yet his fears grew constantly, even reaching the point where he began to dream about possible disasters.

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Fury Is Good

A few days ago I had a chance to see Sylvester Stallone’s 2008 remake of his 1980s film Rambo.  It was two hours of mindless violence, and I loved every minute of it.

Few actors throw themselves into the action as fearlessly as does Stallone.  He’s in his 60s now, and he’s as pumped up as ever, doing nearly the same things he was doing in the 1980s.  Incredible.

You can say what you want about Sylvester Stallone.  But he is a very driven man, with a singular sense of purpose.  I respect that.  I admire his audacity.

Toujours, l’audace.

I know, I know.  You’re going to tell me that he uses all sorts of “performance enhancing” drugs, and what not.  Maybe.  I don’t really know.  And I don’t think it really matters, for my purposes here.  The point is the ethic, and the spirit.

And the fury.  I love the fury of speed, action, and movement.  It creates its own poetry.  It carries its own logic.  It forces upon us the necessity of decision.   And the necessity to be decisive.

Speed, action, and movement.  Get action.  Get movement.

Some men are born for conflict.  Some are born for struggle.  It’s in their blood.  This is the sentiment of the movie, expressed repeatedly in the voice-overs.

I wrote about one such man in my book Thirty Seven.  His name was Ernst Junger, and his book Storm of Steel is a flowering of cathartic violence.  And this is good.

Sometimes, violence is necessary.  Anyone who ever said that violence never solved anything doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

There are times when violent struggle cuts through, clarifies, and crystallizes the essence of an issue.

I was reminded of this recently when watching a video of a man getting beaten up on a subway in St. Louis.  He was accosted by a group of punks, and then assaulted.  He did not defend himself.  He curled up into the fetal position, and then proceeded to give interviews to the media about how “nobody helped me.”

Well, why didn’t you help yourself?  What did you do to defend yourself?

He was preyed on because he communicated weakness and defeat.  And the aggressors sensed this.

If you don’t take steps to defend yourself, no one else will.  The only person who cares about you, is you.

Conflict is all around us.  Conflict and struggle are the fulcrums of our earthly existence, and the existence of every other sentient form of life here with us.  We can either deal with it, or we can curl up into the fetal position.  Just like the sorry specimen on the subway.

When we adopt this as our ethic, we notice that our capacities for deterrence are enhanced.  We communicate, in silent form, the message that we are not to be trifled with.  Aggressors can sense this, on some animal level.  And you have to mean it.  You have to be prepared to fling yourself into action, when such threats materialize.  The moment of truth comes for all of us.

You will know if you have the soul of a fighter when that feeling of transcendent radiance comes over you, in the midst of violent conflict.  Everyone around you will be dithering and running here and there.  But you will be in your zone.  Your conflict zone.

It is a mystical feeling.  It is an inexplicable feeling.  But it is there.  And it is real.

A man finds his true essence at such moments.  It is a moment of clarity.  A moment of transcendent, mystical truth.

And it is glorious.

When someone assaults you, and when someone intends to do you harm, you don’t sit there and hold your head in your hands.  You don’t give interviews to the press.  You don’t expect others to do your fighting for you.

You attack with a fanatical fury until the threat is neutralized.

Fury, in all its transcendent forms, has a goodness that is distinctly its own.

 

Read More:  On Conflict