The men's movement of the 1980s in America renewed an important discussion about what it means to be a man in this world. It did so in the aftermath of several recent cultural phenomena that shed quite a negative light on masculinity, including: unspeakable atrocities in World War II, the paternalistic pop culture of the 1950s, military adventurism in South East Asia, the Watergate Scandal, and the rise of feminism. Many of these situations represented clear excesses on the part of men in leadership roles.
The men's movement sought to address what many people began to see as "oversteering" on the part of the culture against men. Were men often aggressive? Yes. Did this aggression lead to excesses? Clearly. Was the role of aggression on the part of men inherently bad or wrong? Maybe not, went the conversation. The men's movement suggested that some of the excesses associated with masculinity were becoming synonymous with the basic concept being a man. Therefore, telling men that liking guns and feeling aggressive was wrong was tantamount to telling a woman not to be nurturing or supportive. The opportunity, according to the men's movement, became constructively channeling these drives among men rather than rooting them out.
And nowhere did this issue cause alarm more than in the case of one of the basic masculine instincts (at work, of course, in women as well): the Warrior. This aspect of masculinity--often called an archetype--is a lightning-rod issue for much of the cultural dialogue about men. Depending on a person's point of view, the Warrior archetype is responsible for such wonderful things as the drive to succeed and the obligation to protect or such ghastly things as the drive to abuse loved ones and the obligation to commit genocide.
Noted scholar Dr. Robert Moore in his book King Warrior Magician Lover: Rediscovering the archetypes of the mature masculine suggests that the Warrior archetype is all of these things. He says that it's really a matter of maturity. Lower levels of maturity often display the damaging aspects of the Warrior (Sadism, Masochism, and Cowardice); higher levels of maturity often display the beneficial aspects of the Warrior (Heroism, Commitment, and Sacrifice).
So, in other words, don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Fast-forward to today. We are living in dangerous times. Never--at least in recent times--does the security of the world seem so precarious. Instability reigns in much of the world, including Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. Great-power conflicts, something considered unfathomable at the end of the Cold War, appear possible between Russia and the United States and potentially China and the United States. Not to mention Iran and the West, an unclear and potentially toxic relationship based on decades of mutual distrust and suspicion.
Nuclear proliferation among rouge states such as North Korea keeps many analysts awake at night. No one in the civilized world wants to see the outcome of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of homicidal terrorists.
ISIS openly and brazenly taunts the West with video evidence of crimes against humanity. Think of that, Nazi Germany and Pol Pot's Cambodia went to great lengths to hide their war crimes. ISIS publicizes them.
While we're clearly seeing the evidence of runaway destructive Warrior spirit in much of the world, what's the case for applying Warrior efforts at protecting people and blunting the onslaught of genocidal campaigns?
Much of the West's recent experience in military intervention hasn't gone well. The Iraq War of 2003 represented perhaps a low point in American use of force. The Afghanistan campaign by NATO (soon to be finished) leaves many observers wondering if much progress at all occurred. Libyan citizens enjoyed the air cover of NATO jets during the removal of General Ghadafi, but now are facing lawless tribalism and the recent emergence of ISIS. And the situation in Ukraine, perhaps a proxy war in reality, doesn't appear close to a peaceful resolution.
So, when should the West or the UN or perhaps a coalition of advanced powers take up arms to defend the principles of humanity? What is the case for doing this work? When does the situation require a Warrior-like response?
The risks of mistake are enormous. There is no reset button for armed conflict. The Iraq War--considered a mistake by the vast majority of the civilized world--cost hundreds of thousands of lives (including Iraqi civilians) and trillions of dollars.
Would intervening militarily on the part of NATO in Ukraine be the right thing to do or would it set the stage for nuclear holocaust with Russia?
What if Russia were to invade one of the Baltic countries, all NATO members? Article Five of the NATO charter obligates all NATO members to defend any one member if attacked.
While politicians and pundits have opinions on this topic, what do you think? Whether you're an American reading this article in snowy Massachusetts or a South African reading this piece in warm Cape Town or an Indonesian reading this story in equatorial heat, what do you think?
When is war justified on the part of nations in this world? What are the "red lines" that the world needs to enforce? How to be Warriors for good rather than Warriors for ill?
How can the Warrior spirit serve this dangerous planet?