I spend a great amount of time, in a variety of spheres such as domestic violence work, psychology, resiliency, LGBT rights, men’s work, and veterans issues, thinking about warrior traditions, philosophy and morality, ethics and behavior, adaptation and learning, trauma and growth, social values and so forth.
A question that is still very much alive and well, both within and without the military, is “how can women be warriors?” As someone interested in philosophy and politics I recognize this as framing and as such it is a carrier of much attached information and assumed or hidden values (hence the importance of framing in politics). As long as this is the question we ask we will never achieve growth and maturity within our military befitting our capabilities and character. The better question is “how can our warriors be women?” It places the impetus of change upon the former instead of the latter. What we know is that it isn’t women impeding the military, in fact the contrary is seen in every instance (I heartily recommend the book “Honor Betrayed“), but that not allowing the value of traits that are feminine hurts the warrior.
Our fanatical insistence that the masculine/feminine values are equivalent to right/wrong within the military culture are at the very heart of what restricts our resilience. We are human beings that must sometimes act in a manner that is cold, harsh, and selfish. But as human beings we rebound when we can open find space and be warm, caring, and thoughtful. These qualities are at the very heart of what a warrior is, as I define a warrior who defends something that is cherished. No greater fighter can be found. And yet some people are so blind to dogmatic belief of the myth of masculinity that to even utter the word “cherish” is itself heresy. No greater defender is there than a momma bear defending her cubs.
We have constrained our values of what is useful and effective within a context of war to also define what is right and wrong outside of war. The harsh necessities of war have given us our moral guidance as human beings and are limit the natural proclivities of our very nature to the basest level imaginable. Great human souls can indeed wage great war, yet war does not make great souls. If it did we would not have the number of veterans who still struggle with life after war as we do today.
I am convinced that to help one of us is to help all of us, that our ability as a military improves when we can lay down our ignorance and see that we are spiting an essential part of not only our force, but also, for us men, half of our very souls.
I am ever your brother in arms.
SSG Eddie Black