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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Warriors

Cliff Byerly, BTS's lead MIL/LEO trainer, got me thinking about this (again).

The word warrior gets thrown around a lot. It's used for people who actually go fight wars. It's also sometimes used for people who fight in cages, rings, or on mats. Sometimes it's used for people who run long races, or races with a lot of mud involved, or long races with a lot of mud involved. Occasionally, it is used for people who are dealing with financial struggles or other hardships of life.

I have mixed feelings about all of this. The English teacher/writer/editor part of my brain recognizes that language evolves and changes, and that the way people use words is something outside of our control. (This is why I always look askance at people who complain about dictionaries "changing the definition of words", for the record. Dictionaries don't change the meaning, they record the change that was already made.)

So, if, as a culture, we've decided to turn the word warrior into shorthand for "person who persevered through a difficult time", I guess that's what we've done.

But I really dislike it. For a couple of reasons.

One, I think it cheapens the word. Warriors engage in warfare, and that is a scary and impressive thing. In the United States, it's more impressive to me because it's a voluntary profession. Our warriors choose to become warriors. You can agree or disagree with the politics, or the people who start the wars, but the ones who sign on the dotted line to go fight? They deserve some serious respect for that choice.

But on the flip side (and this is the other reason it bugs me): being a warrior is not the only noble profession in life. I have never been a warrior (choices of youth, somewhat regretted). I have been a teacher, a coach, a student, and a bunch of other things besides. I have been privileged not only to know some real warriors, but some amazing people in a number of other professions.

Trying to make everyone into a warrior not only cheapens the word warrior, it cheapens everything else. A great fighter is a great fighter. Not a warrior, but a fighter. Doesn't make him (or her) any less tough, it just means they do a different job. A great teacher is not a warrior either, but it hardly makes them less important.

Society relies on all professions to keep it going. We should be impressed by all of them, not trying to steal titles from each other.

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