It is true that we all fight, but are we all soldiers?
“It is true that we all fight, but are we all soldiers?” (RoF 1.12)
An interesting question in relation to masculinity…what is the difference between fighting and being a solder? I believe this question haunts every man. I remember growing up and my mother making sure I was not exposed to guns. She now likes to point out, even though she tried her hardest to keep guns out of my playthings, I found sticks or even chewed gram crackers into the shape of guns. Does this make me a violent person? No. I believe that there was a part of me that was designed to fight. Not an unbridled desire to beat up everything that walks, but to have the tools necessary to defend what is true, good and beautiful.
Our culture seems to confuse the desire to fight and the desire to stand up for what is right. Boys are told not to fight. They are not taught how to distinguish between emotional “lashing out” and Standing up for the truth. Is is coincidence that things such as MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and movies such as Fight Club have such a strong male following? I do not think so. To temper this statement, I also believe that these are still misguided manifestations of the desire to protect which is written on the heart of every man.
“We all Fight, but are we all soldiers?” I find that when I watch movies such as Saving Private Ryan, or Band of Brothers, my heart becomes excited. Something stirs within me about the thrill (?) of being part of a mission and not resting until that mission has been completed no matter what the cost; the possibility of laying down my life so that our communal goal can be realized.
Today it seems that men have moved to the extremes. They have either become soft and non-confrontational “emasculated” or overly physically aggressive “macho”. Neither of these points are healthy for the person or for society. Both extremes point to an immaturity within the man. If we as men want to find the balance we need to look at Christ.
On of my favorite quotes can be found in the childrens book The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. In a dialogue between Lucy and Susan (main character) and Mr. Beaver (yes there are talking animals), Susan then Lucy asks a question in regards to the temperament of Aslan the Lion (who is commonly interpreted as a Christ figure in the Story).
“But shall we see him?” asked Susan.
“Why, Daughter of Eve, that’s what I brought you here for. I’m to lead you where you shall meet him,” said Mr. Beaver.
“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.”
[C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 79-80]
In this way, we as men are called to be Good. Good does not mean safe. Therefore in being good there is times to “fight the good fight”. It is the duty of every man to stand up for what is right. This becomes apparent especially when we become a parent. This can be biological parenting such as within marriage, but also priests as well. We are given the duty to protect that which the Lord has entrusted to us.
It is important to find discipline within our masculinity and prayer within our lives so we can know which fights to engage and which to avoid. We are all called to be soldiers, but our fight might not be the physical fight, rather it may manifest itself throughout many levels of reality (physical, verbal, spiritual etc.)
Let us teach our boys to “man up” in the way they were created to. Teach them to protect their siblings and respect their mother. Let us continue to encourage other men to grow in discernment so we know which battles to engage and have the strength to fully engage them. If we do this, great things are sure to happen!