Tuesday, March 23, 2010


¡Hola! Everybody...
I am not surprised that a significant number of the Pee Party participants are racist and homophobic, but what really got me was that someone actually spit at Civil Rights leader Rep. John Lewis. That’s just plain nasty. I once had the displeasure of being spit at (spat on?). Some woman took exception to something I said and just hurled a glob of spit at me. She didn’t get to hit me, but being the object of such violence is quite unsettling. That someone thought so little of me that they felt it appropriate to spit at me was a complete violation; an attempt to dehumanize me.

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-=[ The Awakened Warrior ]=-

Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
-- Marie Curie

I sold my son on education using the archetype of the Scholar-Warrior. After watching an old Bruce Lee movie, he wanted to learn the martial arts. Having studied Lee’s original art, Wing Chun, myself, I made a pact with him. We would both study with a master if he took the oath of the Scholar-Warrior. Of course, I made the whole thing up. LOL

Actually, there are precedents for the oath of the Scholar-Warrior. Throughout time and across many cultures, scholar-warriors weren’t just conquerors; they were often learned men and women who were versed in a wide range of disciplines. They were familiar with poetry and the healing arts, for example. They were protectors not destroyers.

We live in a different age, of course, but I would submit that the times we live in are screaming for more Scholar-Warriors to come forth. We cannot count on our leaders and government to be brave on our behalf; they are beholden to legal fictions (aka Corporations) endowed with the rights of personage. I would say that a failure of courage all around is at the root of most our problems today. Doing the right thing is rewarding in and of itself. Scholar-Warriors do not look for credit...

The word courage comes from the French coeur, meaning “heart.” Courage is a power that comes from the integration of the heart and brain. Brave, on the other hand, comes from the word for barbarous and was used by the Romans to describe the courage of the “wild people.”

For me, courage is the willingness to embrace challenge. Courage isn’t a single trait so much as a combination of a range of qualities: willingness, persistence, intent, bravery. Real courage faces reality head on and when change is called for, accepts the need. It also calls for intelligence in that it calculates whether the means justifies the ends.

The irony is that seemingly unremarkable individuals commit some of the most courageous acts. Julia Butterfly Hill was only twenty-three when she climbed 180 feet into an ancient redwood. She lived in the tree for two years, saving it from destruction and in the process inspiring a generation of environmental activists.

I tried to teach my son that within each of us there lies a sleeping scholar-warrior and that part of our life’s purpose is to awaken that warrior. Sometimes it takes an extreme situation for the inner warrior to emerge. Many of the heroes we celebrate were initially reluctant warriors taken by surprise.

I had a friend, Freddie (who has since passed away), who with no thought to his own safety acted on a situation. It was late at night and he was on his way to the corner bodega when he came upon a rape in progress. Without hesitation he tried to save the young woman. The cowards turned on him, beating him so badly that, among other serious injuries, they broke his eye socket, causing him to lose sight in that eye. Freddie was one of the funniest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and when asked, he said he wasn’t a hero. For him, he was just doing what needed to be done.

I don’t consider myself a hero. I am just a son of the human species who was taught that an injustice to one person is an injustice to all. If I am a scholar-warrior at all, I am a warrior for Truth.

Today, we’re at the political mercy of a relatively small group of bullies. This is how I view most of what goes under the heading of the Right Wing in America today. Much of what they do is based in fear and loathing. That woman spit at me because she didn’t see me as a human being but as a receptacle for everything she hated. To her I was a thing; I was the “other.” Her fear and ignorance compelled her to see me as a scapegoat for all her frustrations. Bullies bully because they are rarely confronted, growing bolder with time. Push back against a bully, and his or her fear stands exposed. A scholar-warrior can stand up to them.

Lucky Babcock is an example of a spontaneous scholar-warrior. One day she was minding her own business looking out her window when she saw a man throw a woman to the ground and rip her blouse off. Lucky, then sixty-six years old, grabbed her cane and raced down two flights of iron stairs. “I felt like I was flying. I put my hands on the rails and just threw myself down four steps at a time.” She used her cane as a club and drove the man off.

Compassion is a powerful motivator. Scholar-warriors develop a passion for compassion. The compassionate are the true protectors of the earth, moved enough to take a principled stand to wage war against injustice.

A newspaper editor in Uruguay who agreed to a duel with an irate police inspector announced he would turn up without a weapon. He was challenged after his newspaper reported the officer was involved in transporting contraband. “I am not going to bear arms against another human being,” he stated. He stood convention on its head and as a result, he gained the support of the press, many politicians, and much of the public. The exposure resulted in a power shift that saw a new party formed and a new president elected.

I could tell the stories of countless reluctant scholar-warriors who almost never get any coverage, but they all seem to share the same quality of people who simply did what needed to be done.

If everybody who cared actually participated, the world would change. But we can’t count on other people -- only ourselves. If we each do our part, who knows? But if we don’t, I think we know what will happen -- it’s happening now. I’ll tell you today what I tried to teach my son not too long ago. The task of the scholar-warrior is to persist in the face of the greatest opposition. Even if our efforts turn out to be for nothing at one level, our actions still create ripples of effect. Courage isn’t risking our selves for what we believe in, my friends. It’s letting go of the belief that there’s something to risk.




  1. First, I must say again...DAMN I WISH I COULD WRITE LIKE YOU!

    After reading this I felt like the little kid from "The Incredibles", This is freaking awesome!
    I so wish that we could just ground ourselves in our humanity. Just so that we can realize...
    We are not heroes, we are creatures of earth that should seek a Earthly purpose. Follow a moral code,
    seek understanding, be steadfast in the face of adversity and human fraility. We have so much to offer
    one another. Its a damn shame that we are so fear driven and hero consumed.
    Heroes are for comics and fantasy, not in human purpose.

  2. Man, you're too kind. I'm just decent at synthesizing stuff I've managed to absorb. LOL Yeah, we all have the power to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others and it doesn'
    t take an army, just a small band of committed compassionate people. All it takes is for one woman to refuse to give up her seat. Or maybe it takes for change to come is for those now silent to speak up.

  3. I know i haven't replied in a while, but i read you everyday and i can't tell you how much your posts make my day...in so many ways. Your sharing, even the Friday's post are illuminating, and so well versed, but not only that you share yourself, your wisdom with the world. You are as the other poster has noted an excellent writer...but more importantly i can tell you are a great man. Keep doing what you are doing :)

  4. Thanks Miz, I am humbled, actually, by your words. I don't know if I'm a great man, but I try to be the best person I can be on a daily basis. sometimes I hit the mark, and on other days, I miss badly.

    Much love...


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