IN THE BEGINNING … NO MAN WAS HIGHER IN BIRTH THAN ANY OTHER, FOR ALL MEN WERE DESCENDED FROM A SINGLE FATHER AND MOTHER. BUT WHEN ENVY AND COVETOUSNESS CAME INTO THE WORLD, AND MIGHT TRIUMPHED OVER RIGHT . . . CERTAIN MEN WERE APPOINTED AS GUARANTORS AND DEFENDERS OF THE WEAK AND THE HUMBLE.
—The Book of Lancelot of the Lake
I came across this quote while reading a book on the history of knighthood. I’ve always had an interest in knights and the medieval period, and now that I’m delving into the world of HEMA, I find myself looking more deeply at that era, which is how I came across this quote.
Little of that matters, though, because this spoke to me. It spoke to me on a deep, deep level.
You see, in my life, I’ve found there are people who are wired just a little bit differently. They’re the people who train for violence, who live for it, not because they’re violent people, but because they’re the poor bastards who can’t step away from it.
They’re the insurance policy of the divine.
Now, this is my own pet theory. I have nothing but faith to back it up, but bear with me, if you will.
You see, when I was a kid, I was obsessed with the military. I watched every war movie I could get. The books I was most likely to read (dyslexia made that difficult) had soldiers in them. There had to be a warrior for me to consider the protagonist a hero.
My play mimicked this. I played soldier. I played war. My favorite toys were my Star Wars action figures (war, again) up until G.I. Joes became a thing, then those took over.
This despite growing up in the household of a Vietnam veteran who had seen the real horrors of war, one who seemingly had experienced the damage war can do to the human soul.
He told me some of what he did, what he saw.
It changed nothing.
I was a kid, though, and at some point, I tried to put away those things because I thought that was growing older, yet that all stuck around.
It wasn’t until later that I learned that there were others like me, people who couldn’t step away from it. We all enlisted at some point or another. We all served. Most of the one I encountered fought in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. They went back over and over again. As they told me, they could do nothing else.
There was a fight to be had, and they weren’t going to back away from it no matter how horrible it is.
These are the people who run toward fights. They’re the ones who don’t just call the police. They’re the ones who don’t mind their own businesses when people are being hurt.
To a man–and all the ones I’ve met are men, though I don’t know they’re exclusively male–they don’t know anything other than running toward trouble. They can’t live with themselves if they don’t.
Which is why I call them, us, the insurance policy of the divine.
These are people who are placed on Earth for a specific reason. They’re the people who have no choice but to fight, yet are also blessed with the morality to not prey upon the weak.
It’s a way for whatever divine force intervenes on the world to make damn sure there are always good people to fight the evil that invariably pops up in the world.
Of course, you may think it’s awfully self-serving to ascribe some personality traits within me to be the will of God like I’m part of some grand plan. That’s a fair knock, too. I’d be making it of anyone else.
But it’s also a way to look at this weird quirk of my personality, the thing that makes it so I spend a lot of time learning about things that, ultimately, result in hurting people.
Especially because I’m not unique in that.
If you’re someone of faith, and you believe everything has some divine influence, what I’m saying should seem that ludicrous to you.
More importantly, though, it’s something I think we should also try to cultivate. Any and all of us should strive to make this part of our personalities too.
We should stand ready to visit violence on the evildoers of society, but not as vigilantes. Instead, I’m talking about defending their victims from their atrocities.
We should all be the insurance policy of the divine.