The Righteous Warrior

By Terence T. Gorski
December 13, 2013

warrior-priestI am in favor of peace. I pray for peace everyday. I don’t believe that world peace can be achieved until every person alive chooses nonviolent ways to resolve their conflicts over violence. I don’t expect that to happen in my lifetime. All I can do is pass on the dream.

Until the world is filled with people committed to nonviolent solutions, there will be ongoing violent struggle. Some call it the battle between good and evil.

Violence is the scourge of humanity since before the dawn of recorded human history. So until the time of a universal (100%) commitment of individuals to peaceful resolutions becomes a reality, we have to rely on a court system. For courts to work there must be enforcement. The need for enforcement means there must be warriors. Within the USA this means a police force. Internationally it means the military. When fighting natural and man-made disasters, it means emergency first responders of all disciplines.

I was always taken with the idea of the warrior priest — the righteous warrior, the warrior monks. The image is one of the spiritually and morally enlightened being willing and able to fight for good against evil. This mythology has been and is still a powerful force driving human consciousness in all cultures.

The righteous warrior fighting against evil – fighting in the name of good. A great idea. I am too much of a realist, however, to believe all of our wars are just or all of are warriors are righteous. I do know that warriors need to be highly trained and held to a higher standard. A higher standard is needed because they are endowed with the social sanction, the training, and the weapons they need to take human life when required to protect the common good.

Yes, there is a broad swatch of a grey between good and evil and who puts what into each category. Politicians and religious leaders of all kinds can paint the most unspeakable horrors of violence as righteous, moral and just. Think about the inquisition, or the crusades, or the plundering and murder reported as the will of God in the Old Testament and the Koran. Murder entered the old testament in the first three pages.

True evil, however, cannot be missed no matter how it is painted. The Nazi Concentration Camps, the killing fields of Cambodia, the millions of lives taken by slave owners in all cultures and all countries since the beginning of recorded history.  Tragically the list of horrors man has perpetrated upon man could go on for pages. This tendency toward violence and the loss of empathy for the victims of violence is, in my mind, at the root of the idea of evil. Organized violence embodied in war and mob rule is the most horrific violence of war.

Evil must be fought. To ignore evil is to condone it. Evil should not be sanctioned as good by religious leaders in the service of those holding political power. Ayn Rand talks about the alliance between political and spiritual leaders in the service of violence.  She calls it an alliance between Attila and the Witch Doctor. Righteous warriors are destroyed, body and soul, by this unholy alliance.

Attila and the Witch Doctor represent two figures – the man of faith and the man of force. They are philosophical archetypes, psychological symbols and historical reality. As philosophical archetypes, they embody two variants of a certain view of man and of existence. As psychological symbols, they represent the basic motivation of a great many men who exist in any era, culture or society. As historical reality, they are the actual rulers of most of mankind’s societies, who rise to power whenever men abandon reason.” [Rand, FNI, p. 14.]

Warriors are at their best when they act calmly and with the righteous knowledge that to kill a murderer to protect the lives of good people is in fact a virtuous act. Answer this question in your own mind:

If a psychopath had a knife at the throat of your child and was ready to start slashing, would it be right for the sniper to grant mercy to the psychopath and allow the child to die a horrific death?  Or would it be right for the sniper to calmly line up the head of the psychopath in his sites, exhale, and squeeze the trigger saving the child’s life. Which of these would be right? Which would represent the good?

For the sniper to kill the psychopath is an act that is both righteous and necessary. No guilt is appropriate on the part of the warrior for he or she stopped evil dead in its path to save an innocent life. All civilized people need to be willing to do the same. Most warriors, however, pay a heavy price for the taking of life even when it is a righteous act.

“Killing is supposed to be hard.
If you found it, easy I’d be worried about you.”
~ Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS ~

We need our warriors. We need them trained, equipped and held to a high moral standard. We need them to work in the service of the good. In order for that to happen, we must each know what the good is. WE must know the values that are worth dying for. My father was a World War II combat veteran. His memory, and that of  my mother, weigh heavily on my mind. The order I get, the smarter i realize my parents were.

“We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night
to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” – George Orwell

My mother and father told me of a song that was popular during World War II. It was entitled: “Praise the Lord AND Pass the Ammunition. Sometimes good people must pick up weapons and do harm to those who destroy the lives of peaceful people in the night. Let’s work for the day, however, where all humanity will embrace the need for nonviolent resolution of human conflicts. Each one of counts. Each of our children count. You count.

“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day,
that my children may know peace.”
~ Edmund Burke ~

One Response to The Righteous Warrior

  1. Steven J Taormina says:

    If I have to KILL another Human for GOD & country.. I have to deep down inside KNOW for certain.. I am doing what I hate what GOD hates ..but what we have learned to live with for thousands of years… The greatest Good for the greatest numbers still have some merit…amen?

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