I’m a peace loving person. Sincerely, and perhaps a bit naïvely, I believe that everyone can find a way to respect and love anyone else. But it only takes a single peek at the world around to see how out of sync that perspective can be.
Here in the United States, we have been funding an ongoing military conflict in Afghanistan for many, many years. We spend money on it, we spend countless people – who lose their lives, or parts of their anatomy. Not to mention those who lose their souls and psyche to the ravages of war. We have riots throughout the United States over issues such as politics, race, immigration, and many other issues. We have police officers that utilize violent force against individuals that are deemed to have broken the law. As a society, we are armed in one fashion or another. We fetishize violence through our sports, our television shows, our movies….let’s face the truth, violence is a part of the American culture. But this post isn’t really about raining against violence; only the senseless application of it.
The military taught me how to harm individuals who would wish to visit violence upon me. Some of that training is embedded in muscle memory – automatic reflexes to certain actions and responses. All meant to defend myself against harm through the application of brutal, tactical, surgical methodologies. Its not a part of my military training I am particularly proud of. I can crack an 8-bit cypher with several mathematical calculations. I can also utilize normal everyday items, such as a cell phone or a set of car keys, as lethal weapons. I am more accepting of the mathematical skills than I am of the physical defense techniques. See, I dislike hurting people. Even in manners as mundane as emotional distress. I do not like the idea of being a physical weapon designed to hurt others – even in my own defense.
But is being able to defend myself (or others) in such a manner really a bad thing?
For someone that is dedicated to the idea of not harming others, my own self-defense is not that difficult a concept to deal with. I like the idea of living, so I would most likely not defend myself too much until something along the levels of lethal force (or what I comprehended as such) comes into play. Thus, I would likely handle a fairly good amount of punishment, until presented with the potential choice between life and death. Then I would fight with no compunction of “fair” or “unfair” tactics or methods. After all, I would be fighting for my life. But the issue is even more clear cut for me when my family is involved.
I’ve discussed what family means to me. Most of my family are not related to me via blood relations. For me, those people are everything in the world to me. Without them, my life would not be complete to any level. Most of the folks that are in this particular category are or should be fairly well aware who they are. I don’t hide my feelings about people, particularly those that I care about this deeply. I would lay down my life defending them – no questions, no hesitation. It really is that simple.
What about for my faith? For what I believe in? It was reported that the two shooters at Columbine High School asked fellow students if they were Christian or not before shooting them fatally (for yes answers) or just merely wounding them. Would I be willing to proclaim my faith and belief in Paganism, if a gunman pointed a gun to my head and asked me if I believe? What about if the gunman asked me to repudiate the Gods and Goddesses and accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior?
I have asked Christian friends of mine this question before. And they are quick to answer with a resounding “yes”. To some people, the fast affirmative answer can be a stipulation of an individual willing to say anything to prove their faith to the questioner. Possibly. Or perhaps they are merely quick to answer in that manner because they truly do believe. I am on the fast response team. I would not hesitate to state that I am a Pagan and that I do believe that the Gods and Goddesses are distinct and real. To do otherwise dishonors who I am.
That’s right, it dishonors who I am – not the Gods and Goddesses. I believe that the Gods and Goddesses are individual beings, far more capable of defending their names on this plane of existence (and others) than I am. But I do believe. To deny that, is to deny who I am. A Pagan. A Druid. Dare I say it – a Priest. For me to deny any of that, dishonors who I am. Certainly, I back away from the title of Priest – mostly because I am uncomfortable with the title – but whatever my comfort level may be, I am still a Priest. With a weapon in my face, and being asked to deny that I believe in the Gods and Goddesses – take your best shot.
So, would I fight for what I believe? Would I fight for those that I love, if they are threatened? Most certainly. And I would fight with a ferocity that drills into the very core of who I am and what I believe. I would fight with no regard for “rules” – I would fight to survive. I would fight to keep my loved ones and family alive. And despite all of that, I am still a man who strives to find peaceful solutions to any conflict or disagreement. Because I do believe in the middle ground.