Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Warrior, doctor, teacher, farmer, mechanic

The other Day, Chris Marshall left a comment on one of my Warrior Spirit posts. I always get a kick out of his comments because he asks penetrating questions that make me think a lot before I respond. Chris commented...
I see no reason to hold warriors in higher esteem. There must be other, better metaphors to reach for. Doctors don't need to be "warriors", or even "peaceful warriors". Neither do teachers, farmers, mechanics...
Firstly, I have nothing against doctors, teachers, farmers, mechanics, etc... Those are noble, valuable callings - things to be proud of. But regarding warriors, simply put, the warrior is the only profession that civilization cannot do without. Grossman & Christensen's On Combat: actually addresses Chris' question directly, using some of his same examples (Hmmm, I wonder if Chris was setting me up for something by using those examples)...
...If we went a single generation without men (and women) who are willing to go out every day and confront evil, then within the span of that generation we should surely be both damned and doomed. We could go for a generation without the doctors, and it would get ugly if you were injured or sick, but civilization would continue. We could go for a generation without engineers and mechanics, and things would break down, but civilization would survive.We could even go for a generation without teachers. The next generation would have to play "catch up ball," and it would be hard, but civilization as we know it would survive. (page xxiii)
Regarding the ultimate value of doctors, a sensei once told me a (perhaps apocryphal) story once about Canada shutting down elective surgery one year and fewer people died that year but then they had a garbage strike and more people began dying from disease - the question suggested by the story, which is more valuable for civilization, a doctor or a garbage man?
Another story to the point... I had one absolutely outstanding teacher in high school. He received the Teacher of the Year Award year after year. All his students loved his class and loved him, and he taught us much more than just the subject he was assigned. I was having a discussion with him once and I expressed the opinion that I thought it was a shame that teachers weren't paid more. He asked, "Why?" and I said something about kids being the future, and all that, to which he replied, "Well I don't think teachers should be paid more because unlike engineers and scientists and businessmen, teachers produce nothing of value for society." You could have heard a pin drop. I think I did hear my jaw hit the ground. He went on to explain, and the basis of his explanation was that children would (to a large extent) learn on their own and if a child wouldn't learn then there was nothing a teacher could do about it. There was more to it, but I don't think I could do justice to his argument in this short blog post.
Anyway, of the examples given... doctors, teachers, farmers, mechanics, etc... All are noble professions and (I would argue) they all produce value for society. But none are indispensable for civilization. Without warriors, society would die of entropy in the form of destroyers (criminals, murderers, terrorists, etc...), and it would be a gruesome death and there would be nothing that a doctor, teacher, farmer, or mechanic could do about it.

Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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