The Warrior Obsession


According to the latest ad for Kings Island amusement park, riding their roller coaster makes you a "ride warrior". I guess we can add it to the list with "road warrior" and "war on poverty". It's standard identity advertising -- that is, making people want something because they want to think of themselves as the kind of person who wants that thing. It's ridiculous, and it sells. There's a reason that the "warrior" image can sell Americans on just about anything these days, and it's a symptom of a real problem with some pretty terrifying results.

There's big business in selling tactical gear to people who don't know how to use it, and convincing America that a thousand other mundane consumptions (roller coaster rides, taxes, etc) are empowering, but there's nothing you can buy or ride, and nothing that the government can take from someone else to give to you that will make you a warrior. Unfortunately, consumption is how mainstream America approaches life.

The warrior ethos outright rejects passivity and non-responsibility.

The warrior knows that with a trigger pull, a well-aimed slice, or a powerful strike, he or she can end someone's life. The resulting corpse will be equally dead regardless of whether the warrior meant well or not, so the warrior had better do more than mean well -- he/she had better be right. In that moment, there is no one else. Inaction and action are equally weighty decisions -- either can save a life, or end one.

The warriors I know do not live passively. They don't whine about how "somebody" should fix education, or unemployment, or the crime rate. They mentor, teach and run for school board, they start businesses or share their skills with others, and they protect themselves and others. Mainstream America, by contrast, feels powerless and cynical -- that's how government has ended up in the role of national nanny -- making decisions about food, education, housing, religion, showers, and more that used to be made independently by citizens across the country.

In Ethics From the Barrel Of a Gun: What Bearing Weapons Teaches Us About the Good Life, (worth reading in its entirety) Eric Raymond writes:

"The Founders had been successful armed revolutionaries. Every one of them had had repeated confrontation with life-or-death choices, in grave knowledge of the consequences of failure. They desired that the people of their infant nation should always cultivate that kind of ethical maturity, the keen sense of individual moral responsibility that they had personally learned from using lethal force in defense of their liberty."

That "keen sense of individual moral responsibility" is lacking in our culture, and whether mainstream America realizes it or not, thirst for it is growing. We see it in the national obsession with action movies and video games, and the fact that people will actually travel to Ohio and buy $50 theme park tickets just to get a little closer to that cheezy "ride warrior" image and a little adrenaline. Consuming is the only "action" or "power" we "normal" citizens are supposed to want.

"To believe one is incompetent to bear arms is, therefore, to live in corroding and almost always needless fear of the self — in fact, to affirm oneself a moral coward. A state further from the dignity of a free man would be rather hard to imagine. It is as a way of exorcising this demon, of reclaiming for ourselves the dignity and courage and ethical self-confidence of free (wo)men that the bearing of personal arms, is, ultimately, most important.

This is the final ethical lesson of bearing arms: that right choices are possible, and the ordinary judgement of ordinary (wo)men is sufficient to make them."

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