Even though this blog and book project is relatively new, allow me to digress a moment from my “normal” posts. I believe this post is relevant to the topics to be covered in “Endure” as well as the posts and links I have in place here on this blog. Since I have a Christian background, it might seem that it leans this way during some points, which it does to a degree, however I must stress that I believe this applies to everyone regardless of if you are Christian or not. As is with my fictional writing, this has some language, not a lot, but some.
I’m sure there might be something I missed, or I’ll think of something that I could have added. Maybe it will be an addendum later on, maybe it’ll be in the comments.
Take the article as it is.
If you have any questions for me or comments, let me know!
So here goes…
“Blessed are the meek…” ~Jesus
I’ve often wondered about this verse and others similar to it (not just in verbage, but in tone – turn the other cheek, etc.) Up until very recently, I thought that the definition of meek or meekness had something to do with humility, more like a synonym than anything else. Though correct to a small degree, this is what I found when I did a quick dictionary search on Bing:
1. humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.
2. overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame.
3. Obsolete . gentle; kind
So, humbly patient, that has something to do with humility, sort of, especially when considering the under provocation from others part. Gentle; kind, again have something to do with humility, sort of.
I don’t like “docile” too much… it invokes images of letting someone do whatever they want to me; a doormat, a victim.
Overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame; obsolete… those just leave a bad taste in my mouth.
When commenting on this in regards to an article on my other blog, Defensive Training Group brought up a really, really good point, emphasis in bold is mine:
DTG said,“ “overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame.” is what most Christian men understand the term to mean.
Meek actually equates to a powerful force under rational control. Take the Lord’s cleansing of the Temple of the money changers. Imagine, for a moment, if you will, Christ Jesus walking in and seeing the blasphemy. He doesn’t lose it, grab a cord and start to incoherently whip people….there were guards there, at least according to Jewish tradition.
No, rather, imagine the Lord looking around, righteous anger building, while he fashions a rope with his very, very strong hands (remember, he was a carpenter, and things built back then were very, very heavy and rustic in design). He looks while fashioning his whip, then when he’s ready, he purposely begins to overturn these same tables whose construction he’s intimately familiar, and beats, with purpose, the idolaters and blasphemers from His Father’s house. His calculated wrath (His power…under control) is what set the idiots in flight mode….He didn’t go in and play ‘Mr. Rogers’ with them….
Same thing today with a Christian man who is meek: He should not be a weakling, pablum speaking waif. Rather, he should be strong, intelligent, and dangerous in the sense that should his power be required to protect an innocent, he can release that ‘power under control’ to rescue or otherwise save the innocent from harm.
Patience is a virtue; we should learn to be patient as possible. However, being a doormat and mistaking that as being meek, in my opinion, is an insult to what God intended us to be: created in His image. That means powerful, strong, just, loving, kind, and when necessary, able to lay waste.
But that’s me. Any discussion on the above opinion is entirely welcome.” ”
So, I did some searching, and you can see it in the comments thread on that blog post if you wish. But to save you a click of the mouse…I found this at a website called “biblehub”:
Cognate: 4239 praýs (also listed as 4239a/praupathia in NAS dictionary) – meek. See 4236 (praótēs).
This difficult-to-translate root (pra-) means more than “meek.” Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.
[The English term “meek” often lacks this blend – i.e. of gentleness (reserve) and strength.]
NOW we are getting somewhere: strength and power coupled with the ability to use those things under rational control, without undue harshness.
As an aside, DTG’s description of the cleansing of the temple is amazingly dead on (in my humble opinion) and I highly encourage you to read John Eldredge’s description of this scene in his book Beautiful Outlaw. This description coupled with DTG’s is, to me, the closest we will ever come to seeing how it actually panned out. No movie has ever, ever given justice to this scene.
Discussing the subject over the last ten years, most men that I’ve encountered in a church or “christian” setting seem to side with the meekness definition which lacks the blend of gentleness and strength. There is a tendency to believe we must “turn the other cheek” to an aggressor with the justification that somehow this is obeying the gospel and the Lord’s commands; there are also very few men going against that and saying: No, I will not turn the other cheek. The men that would refuse an aggressor are often looked at by the more docile christian men as not committed to the gospel or the Lord’s commands, while younger bucks tend to look at these men with a glimmer in their eye and a little “hell yeah” behind their lips because they don’t want to be a doormat either. Deep down inside, they know, humanity isn’t designed to be victims.
I’ll save you the explanations of persecution of believers for the sake of the Gospel and how it relates to turning the other cheek. Maybe that could be another blog post, but I’m not promising anything.
But to view meekness in this new light, wow. It gives more meaning to why the “meek” would inherit the land. But I’m not here to do an exegetical study on scripture, I’m going somewhere else with this.
Good Men Doing Nothing
“Monsignor: …Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.
Connor: I do believe the monsignor’s finally got the point.
Murphy: Aye.” ~The Boondock Saints
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” ~Paul, the Apostle
Pulling from the conversations I’ve had on a variety of subjects, large and small: when someone had an opportunity to prevent something from happening and they did nothing, most people, the observers and even the involved party who should have acted, usually have this gut-reaction against that lack of action. Why do you think that is?
I would hope that all of us can see the seriousness behind Paul’s exhortation to mean more than just financial well-being. We are called to provide for our family’s well-being, mentally, spiritually, financially and physically.
To the men specifically: to not take the protection of yourself and your family seriously, is a gross abuse of the charge you have as a father, a husband, and a man. Do not be a good man doing nothing.
To women, I personally wouldn’t want to get in between a mama grizzly bear and her cubs. So likewise, it should behoove you to unleash that type of ferocity if you, your children, or even your husband is threatened. I don’t think it is emasculating in the slightest to have women know how to “bring the hurt”. Far from it! The only time it is emasculating to a man is when men don’t “sound-off like they have a pair” and learn how to defend their family too!
For those of us, men and women, who take the protection of ourselves and our families seriously, we should fully understand this definition of meekness and we should also realize our responsibility to act on behalf of our loved-ones and friends if the call comes. We fear being one of the “good ones” who further the greater evil by doing nothing.
Let me give you an example, if you learn how to build a fire and know how to do it well, under pressure, when the elements are pounding down around you, you have the ability to keep yourself and your family warm enough to survive. You aren’t doing it to learn the “art” of committing arson. Nope, this is learn so when you are stranded fifty-miles from the nearest town on a cold evening, you can use that power, under rational control, to save lives, namely: your own, your wives, husbands, and children.
So it is the same with those of us who choose the process of learning the skills to protect our families. We learn hand to hand combat and the proper use of weapons under realistic conditions and stress, not so we can go find the biggest asshole out there and beat the ever-loving dog-squat out of him. No, we learn that specific skill in case we need to release that power under rational control to neutralize the threat as quickly as possible. Again, saving lives; protecting the innocent.
I was explaining this recently to a man who I am training in hand to hand combatives, I put it this way:
We want to go home at night and see our wives and kids. We aren’t looking for a fight, but dammit, if we have no other way but through, we are going to finish it quick, fast and dirty and go home. There is no room to play around and go toe to toe. This isn’t a sport. This is why we train, this is why we take it seriously.
Stay with me, this relates to meekness and to the greater evil of good men doing nothing.
Do you remember that scene? He is fully capable of stopping what is about to happen, he has a weapon, it’s loaded, just point and click. Yet he doesn’t. Hell, he could’ve ran up those stairs and knocked the guy out with the butt of that Garand! But he doesn’t. At the end of the scene, he is still on the stairs, paralyzed with fear and crying…the Nazi just walks down the stairs right by the guy. This was a good man who had the power to act and did nothing to prevent the death of his team-member.
That scene still gives me a gut-wrench; it leaves a sick feeling in my stomach.
Good men do nothing because they lack the will to act.
“The training is nothing, the will is everything! The will to act.” ~Henri Ducard, Batman Begins
Why I Refuse To Be A Victim
I’ve always been a “gentler” person. Ask my father, ask my wife, ask those who are really close to me. I don’t like watching scenes like the one I shared above from Saving Private Ryan, I can’t stand watching realistically violent scenes like the first five minutes of Law Abiding Citizen. I’ve been moved deeply in ways that other men might look at me and think me a weaker man. I’m a gentle man in many, many ways. Growing up, my father would repeatedly say: Strong men know how to be gentle, strong men know that it’s O.K. to be gentle. As I grew up and as I continue to grow and learn, I understand that saying more and more. I’ve had more than my fair share of scenarios from elementary school and even into adulthood in the corporate world where people have tried to push me around. Cowards will do what cowards will do and cowards will get away with what we allow them to get away with.
When I began my “career” in combatives training, I was 7 or 8 and a constant target for bullies. I was small and timid. I would love to say that after a year or two I was highly confident and deadly and I had a fight with the playground bully, knocked him down and put his little punk-ass in place, but it wasn’t so. I remember vividly, struggling with applying the knowledge I was gaining in martial arts class to those who towered over me and bullied me when I was a kid. There were so many times where I was training with my father and I wouldn’t commit to striking an exposed opening or something similar, I lacked the will to act and I lacked understanding, so much so that I accused my father of being heartless. Which is far from the truth. It took years and years of training and growing before I was able to properly acquire the will to act.
I think the turning point came when my sister was threatened one day, during my junior year of high school:
A man in a truck had been stalking my sister and her friend, and thankfully she had the situational awareness to recognize his repeated drive-bys. I was called to escort her home, reluctantly I did so thinking my kid sister was being paranoid. Long story short, he popped up a couple of times. I took her away to a near-by park, had her hide and I waited for him to pull up. He slowly pulled up, about a hundred yards from me, and I charged him on my mountain bike. He quickly did a u-turn and got out of there. He could’ve run over me, but he didn’t. He was the coward and he wasn’t expecting the will to act. And that is why I share this story now…the will to act is so very important.
I train, not because I am looking to beat the dog-squat out of someone or to “pop a cap” in someone. No…I train because I refuse to be a victim. This is a non-negotiable item on my list. I’ve been victimized as a child and I refuse to be that way as a man. I know that fear, I know that feeling of powerlessness. I refuse to let it come into my life, I refuse to allow my family and friends to become a victim if I have the power and ability to stop it.
I train because my training reinforces my will to act.
I don’t train to take a life just because a person shoved me. No, that’s just stupid. And if your martial arts or combatives teacher teaches you to nuke a guy because he looked at you wrong, get out of his class, he doesn’t understand meekness. The people and I who train together, train using what is called “destruction by degree”, which basically means you only use the force necessary to neutralize your opponent and/or escape. Hey, that kinda sounds like the definition of meekness! Using power under control and without undue harshness. Sometimes, God forbid, harshness to a severe degree might be called for, and following destruction by degree, that would be unleashed but never without proper cause.
I train because I have five pairs of beautiful eyes that look to me, me, for protection. God help me if I were to ever fail them! God help me if I were to cower in fear!
I will not be an example of a good man doing nothing and I refuse to have a household of potential victims.
Parents think me irresponsible because I teach my kids to stand up for themselves. I could not care less. While some parents teach negotiation, I teach my children verbal boundaries first (like saying “No!” firmly and loudly or “Back off!”) and then to light the trouble up like a christmas tree if they persist. They have my permission and complete backing in this. They also know the consequences if they were to misuse what they have been taught. Hopefully, the training and positive reinforcement will persist into their adult lives so when the time comes for my daughters to find a guy and, God help him and me, he turns out to be an abusive, coward of an asshole, they won’t take it from him and they’ll lay him out flat on his ass.
I’ve had parents look at me like I’m crazy because I’ve told them my stance on bullying and fighting back; I’ve also seen bloggers get attacked for taking a stance that their children should take a stand. The almost universal response to this is: “Why would you teach your children violence, violence never solves anything.”, they say this from a place of never being a victim, forgetting what it feels like, or simply and completly naive.
Let me say this as plainly as I possibly can:
You cannot reason with a bully and you cannot reason with someone who wishes to damage or destroy you.
Do you know what the statistics are for females being in domestic relationships? It is said that one in four women are victims of domestic abuse.
One in four.
So let me boil this down for you and you can do the math: I have a sister and mother and both of them are in good, healthy marriages, and in my household, I have four women, my wife and my three girls. That is six women. Three, including my wife, are in good relationships… that leaves my three beautiful ladies-in-training…
So…let me ask you this:
Do you really think it is responsible for me to ignore this fact and let my girls go without proper training?
There is no way, no fucking way on this earth that I will let my little girls become victims at the hands of some coward.
Not here, not now.
I personally believe stopping domestic abuse starts at home with the little ones, both training and educating them to not be a doormat, but also training and educating them to not be a bully either. In addition to my daughters, I have a son and though he is just a toddler, you better believe that I will be training him to not be a coward, to be strong, to be meek, to be a good man who does something and uses his strength, intelligence and resources for good.
This means that I must be the standard, I must be the example. How I treat my wife and daughters will be etched into his memory and actions. How I treat others and how I exercise the “power”, “authority”, or influence that I have will be impressed upon him.
I’ve had a father get mad at me because I shared an article on social media which basically inferred that if you do not do what you need to do and learn how to defend your family, you are a coward. Now, the article was meant to be a kick-in-the-ass type of article, it was meant to wake but why such a reaction from him? I didn’t write the article, but he felt it necessary to take his beef up with me, such is the life of social media. He boasted how he would “do what is necessary”…yet… he was an overweight asthmatic, lacked any sort of equalizer at home, and lacked the knowledge and skill to do what was necessary. So…how exactly would he do what was necessary when the time came? Hell, he might be reading this right now, I wouldn’t know, I haven’t heard from him in quite a while. Maybe it infuriated him because it exposed him, I don’t know. He definitely didn’t like connecting the author’s article with himself. It exposed the fact that he was lacking in this area, and instead of asking questions about what to do about it, he shoots the messenger.
Men do not fear being exposed. They might not like it, but they do not fear it. Being found lacking or seeing clearly in the mirror is an opportunity to improve and become better.
So, now at the 3150 word mark…
Is doing something and exercising meekness always easy?
No. But you do it. For the good of your family, your job, your county and city, your spheres of influence, even your state and country. You do it.
Sometimes you fail, sometimes you “miss it”, I have, I do, but you keep pressing forward, you keep moving towards the mark.
Meekness isn’t being a doormat. It is exercising a powerful force under rational control without undue harshness. Meekness doesn’t just have applications in fighting or combat, but that same definition can be applied to anything you do where you have a degree of power, control or influence. Meekness is realizing the purpose and good behind whatever power you have and using it justly.
The greatest evil in this world is good men (and women) doing nothing. Do not pose behind a mask of “being meek” as an excuse for inaction. That’s not an excuse. As the saying goes: Don’t be that guy.
Shit happens and sometimes trouble comes your way. Even if you “lose” you don’t have to be a victim!
To loosely mingle two men, Paul the Apostle & Theodore Roosevelt together:
If you have done all you can to stand, and having stood, having fought the fight, having spent yourself for a worthy cause, even if you failed, your place will not be among the cold and timid souls who count themselves as “good” yet have done nothing.