Truth. Truth is something a warrior is supposed to strive to align himself with. Why? Because if you do not know what the truth is, how will you accurately recognize & prevent threats? Truth therefore is a warrior's best weapon in protecting.
There is a second side however to the sword of truth. If you do not appropriately wield a double-edged blade, you will injure yourself. Truth is no different.
If you conform yourself to truth (reality) you can do immense good and help a lot of people. If you claim to be living out the truth but in fact, your behavior and life does not reflect what you say, it is like cutting yourself with the 2nd side of that double-edged sword. For the truth makes no exceptions, and cares not for your rank, prestige, opinion-of-self, socio-economic status, race, religion, etc. The truth just is. If you fail to live up to it, you will be cut. It will defeat you.
If truth is a warrior's best weapon, than perhaps the greatest detriment & poison to a warrior is lying. Lies by definition are "non-truths." They are not true, factually incorrect, wrong, etc.
Truth is pure being - it simply exists. Truth can exist without lies but lies can only exist if truth exists. Lies then, are essentially, non-being, not-exist. It stands to reason then, if a warrior's life is built on lies, it is built on that which does not exist. It's not built on a foundation of sand (for at least sand is something) it is literally built on NOTHING - NO-THING. Such a warrior cannot stand, and will always be exposed.
I would argue that such a warrior, who has built their entire foundation on lies, is not even a warrior. For a warrior defends truth, as best he can, and if he strays from the path of truth, comes back to it after discovering he has erred.
Remember, if you do not live for truth, you cannot help anyone. Because truth IS reality. If you cannot perceive reality accurately, you cannot prevent, or protect against threats to ensure safety, security and peace.
In your life, there will be several watershed moments where you are given a choice - take a stand on truth or compromise and go with the easy lie. Hear me fellow warrior, ALWAYS stand for truth. The lie looks beneficial, but remember, lies literally are NON-BEING; they do not exist! You cannot build the foundation of a home on nothing. The truth is substantial, the truth is REAL. Lies will offer the false promise of short-term pleasure but will always hurt you in the long run.
The warrior knows this. Usually from experience. The truth is, lying doesn't even help you in the short-term. It creates lack of peace of mind, causes mental strain (because you have to remember to keep your story straight), and takes one more chip out of your character. Once enough of these chips are made, your character will crumble into dust.
The truth is, as Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do." The warrior who lies becomes a liar. Lying prevents you from dealing with reality because you cannot see reality. The lies then end up hurting you greatly in the long run. Because you are blind to reality.
My friend, I urge you not to think you are the exception to this. "I have been lying my whole life and no one has caught me yet." So say all before the fall. You cannot outrun the consequences forever - only delay payment. But once you are made to settle the debt, you will be destroyed.
A warrior prevents this fate by sticking to the truth at all times. The other reason you must do this if you want to live like a warrior is because of one more crucial element:
If you tell the truth, and people see you live the truth, that fosters TRUST. Without trust, you have nothing. If your wife doesn't trust you in your marriage, you have nothing. If your students don't trust you as a teacher, you have nothing. If your employees don't trust you as their employer, you have nothing. LYING DESTROYS TRUST. Perhaps faster than any other poison.
The hard thing about trust is that it cannot be demanded - it must be earned. There is no way to cheat at earning trust. It takes a great amount of effort to earn trust but only one lie, one mistake, to ruin the entire foundation you built.
As Jim Rohn once said, "You can't hire someone to do your push-ups for you." Likewise, you cannot hire someone to build trust for you. Living according to the truth fosters trust, and lying destroys it. Do you really want to live a life where NO ONE trusts you? I do not.
Warriors know that in order to protect themselves and others, trust is required. It isn't optional, it is a must. Trust is impossible where lies exist. Prevent this today by telling the truth. Maybe you've been a pathological liar up to this point, begin anew right now! Cast off that behavior and begin to tell the truth. It will feel so good because for the first time in a long time, you'll be breathing the FREE AIR OF REALITY.
Imagine truth to be clean air, and lying to be a vacuum. What would happen to you if we surrounded you in a true vacuum with no air? You would suffocate. This is what lies do. You suffocate in the vacuum of your own creation. If you would just live by the truth, then you could breathe the free air.
St. Augustine was right, the truth is like a lion. You don't need to defend it. But if you are not on truth's side, that lion will devour you. Truth is piercing, truth is focused, it penetrates every shadow, and every crack. No darkness in the world is powerful enough to defeat even the smallest flashlight - because the light exists and the darkness is simply the absence of light.
As a warrior, you are the light! Do not hide in the shadows; that is where COWARDS dwell - afraid to show their deeds in the light lest they be perceived and judged by all. A warrior walking in truth has nothing to fear from the judgment of others. Therefore, walk in the light - be the light when everything around you is dark and evil.
Truth is light and lying is darkness. You decide which you'd rather be - an agent of truth or a liar? I for one will stand for truth. In utter defiance of the consequences. Because the truth will always be more beneficial to you and those you are trusted to protect. If you give a damn about anyone, be the light and the truth. If you only care about yourself, feel free to stay in the shadows with the rest of the cowards – for only the strong can tolerate the heat of the light.
I will protect the paths of truth! What will you do?
In my examination of the warrior virtues through interviewing over 100 of the finest protectors on earth, there is one virtue that is not at first an obvious necessity for a warrior to possess - yet it is absolutely crucial.
If you embrace this virtue, it will afford you a great many advantages in your daily and martial life. The virtue I am referring to is patience.
Why is patience so important? Patience protects you from making impetuous and rash decisions and from taking ill-advised actions. Patience allows you, as the protector of all that you deem personal, to more accurately examine what is worthy of attention and focus and what is not. It allows you to gather more intel.
Caution! There is a major misconception floating around about patience that you must destroy right now. Warriors know this myth (implicitly at least if not explicitly) and avoid it. The big myth is that patience is a PASSIVE thing - nothing could be further from the truth. All virtue is ACTIVE in nature - they are all verbs. TO BE patient is to possess patience. If you are not BEING patient, you lack the virtue. All virtue is only real if it is actually displayed and acted out in the arena of your daily life - if you never perform it and don't live it, then you are just a talker.
This myth of patience being passive is destroyed by the following verse from Holy Scripture: "With patience run to the fight set before us." - Hebrews 12:1
Run with patience? How does one "patiently run"? At first, this verse evoked odd images of a man trying to patiently and gingerly run a race. Later on however, the depth of this verse hit me - to be patiently running means to patiently act.
That runner can be sprinting as hard as he can and still be running patiently. Think about it.
How does this relate to your personal protection & safety? A warrior knows one thing about surviving a fight, not taking action will get you killed. You know this as well. Being passive, doing nothing, is what oftentimes costs you the fight. You need to patiently act.
Why patiently? Because focusing on patience allows you to keep a calm mind and disposition which is essential to being able to recognize, perceive and prevent threats. Calmness gives you clarity of perception (imagine looking into the pure blue ocean of the Caribbean when the water is still vs. when the water is very choppy). Calmness allows you to sense when there is movement.
Just as a spider can feel the movement of its prey in the web when the web is still and is suddenly tugged on by the captured prey, so is your mind more able to perceive movement when it is calm and something disturbs it. If you mind is constantly disturbed, how can you recognize where all the motions are coming from or which motions are distinct from one another?
Water, spiders and running all serve as powerful analogies of keeping yourself patient and calm which is essential to your self-protection.
Today, I challenge you to run patiently toward the fight that has been presented to you. Maybe your fight involves helping an elderly parent with Alzheimer's or taking care of a fussy child. Maybe your fight involves working the job you've worked for 20+ years and you are bored with it. Or perhaps your fight really is a physical fight for your life against another human being who seeks to remove you from this life. Whatever your fight, run patiently.
Are you currently bitter or angry at someone? Perhaps you have even allowed yourself to hate another person in your life right now. I've been there. If you are like me, the anger, hate and bitterness don't make you feel any better - do they?
In my case, I was filled with bitterness at an ex-girlfriend when I was 19. I had given her my heart and she crushed it. I blamed her for everything (of course, I couldn't be at fault right?). I was mean, terse and unpleasant to be around after that breakup. I deserved to be angry though - I was hurting and anger and frustration were my outlets. At least, this is what I told myself.
Secretly though, that tough, angry facade was just that. I was concealing the more fragile, inner parts of my heart that were broken and hurting. I know now however, that being angry didn't help me - it actually made it harder for my heart to heal.
Let me share with you a story of another man's journey of how he dealt with anger and bitterness – see if you can absorb any lessons from his story - his name was Capt. Charlie Plumb.
I recently had the tremendous honor of interviewing Capt. Charlie Plumb for my new book. He was a Navy Pilot who flew 74 successful missions in Vietnam before being shot down over Hanoi on his 75th mission. He was captured by the enemy and began to serve out the first of his 2103 days as a prisoner of war.
Capt. Plumb was tortured (oftentimes with burning electrical wires), starved, saw many of his fellow POW's die and suffered many other torments. He was away from his sweetheart, away from his comrades, and to top it all off, had he not been shot down on that mission, he would have been going home to the USA - his 75 mission was scheduled to be his last and then his deployment was going to be over.
Imagine the pain of having that knowledge while you are now trapped in a POW camp being tortured? I cannot fathom it. To make it all even more horrible, he was trapped for so long, that when he finally did return home, his fiancé had broken off their engagement and was engaged to a new man – he never married his pre-war sweetheart.
During the interview, I asked Capt. Plumb about what virtues make a successful warrior or protector - the standard question I ask all interviewees for my new book. He gave 2 of the more routine answers (empathy and courage) that many give but then he said something that not one other person in 115 interviews has said to me - forgiveness.
"Forgiveness?" I thought. I decided to dig into more detail here, "Please elaborate more on what you mean by forgiveness Capt. Plumb" I said. He proceeded to tell me something that gives me chills to think about - he said to me, "I had to forgive my captors in order to be able to protect myself, survive and protect my fellow comrades. I had to forgive them for torturing me and enslaving me - and that wasn't easy."
I should say not. Ask yourself this, is the situation you are going through comparable to being a POW in Vietnam? If Capt. Plumb could forgive his very torturers, can you not forgive the person who hurt you?
Perhaps more importantly, can you not forgive yourself for the mistakes of your past and start fresh? We often think to forgive others but we are our own harshest critic. I can relate to this immensely - quick to give other's the benefit of the doubt while being a cruel taskmaster to myself. Not so much anymore since my journey into discovering the virtues of a protector.
You might be wondering what the reason is for why forgiveness is so important to the protector? Capt. Plumb answered that too:
"Only when you can forgive can you really see things as they really are" - Capt. Charlie Plumb
What is the most important thing to be able to do if you want to protect yourself and others? To be able to perceive reality as it truly is - otherwise, how would you ever prevent, recognize and combat threats?
"You cannot see all of your surroundings if you are busy hating one particular thing" is another quote from our interview. Hatred and bitterness narrows your focus and removes from your eyes the ability to see options, choices and other avenues to attack a problem or prevent it.
If you grasp the power of what Capt. Plumb has said here, it will do you immense good if you apply it in your life. Forgive yourself. Forgive your enemies, no matter who or what they've done to you. Odds are, they didn't torture and enslave you for 6 years and kill your friends as they did to Capt. Plumb. If he can forgive his torturers, you can forgive who you need to forgive.
When I spoke to this man he possessed an air of calm that I have sensed in few other people - he is not faking it, this man is at peace with what happened to him and his friends and you can tell. I want that peace in my life. Not only for myself but so that I can more accurately perceive reality to ensure the survival of others and help them solve their problems. I want the same for you in your life.
Be the warrior and forgive - this takes tremendous courage and humility to do but that’s what makes you a warrior – the willingness to do the hard things others won’t. These are the true hard things – forgiving yourself and your enemies.
It isn’t hard to go to a gun range and shoot your gun and master that skill so you can shoot the home invader – it is hard to forgive that home invader for breaking into your home. If you can find a way to forgive, and actually do it, and really mean it, you will feel a tremendous burden lifted from you and you will be better able to protect and serve the people you love and yourself.
Forgive in the battleground,
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National Speaker, author, blogger, and life-long student of warrior arts and science.