King Leonidas, in the movie “300” at least, questioned the Greeks about their profession on their way to eternity. Great scene. It evokes in us an emotion of purpose and sense of unified direction. It’s also pretty cool. By way of the movie we may have missed out on some greater concern that nearly all “warrior” cultures must get right to exist long enough to be remembered like the Spartans, Vikings, or Samurai. But I ask you now, “what is your profession?”
James Williams wrote Virtue of the Sword, “Being tough and a good fighter is not in and of itself noble.” Our citizens, have once again turned their eyes upon us, whether through a lens created by falsehoods or not, the question is what do they see? Do not misunderstand, I know the life we live is of service and sacrifice. I know the struggles that come with living a servants life. The question is as a whole does our profession practice what it preaches? If you feel that this is not a topic for discussion then you miss out growth in your profession and as an individual. We are warriors. But what does that mean? Warriors who practice the martial arts outside of the virtues such as honor, courage, and chivalry are doing so for self serving reasons and, in agreement with James Williams, it will surely lead to destruction. Even steel is tempered to ensure it’s strength.
In the world of Special Weapons and Tactics we draw directly from our family line: law enforcement and from a distant but connected branch Special Operations. This melding is neither new nor unique but can create confusion. The confusion lies squarely with us. If we are not careful we take a separate view of ourselves from those we serve. We are separate based on our calling but we live in the same house, town, city, and country with those we are meant to police. Nothing is compartmentalized. There is no combatives to be held separate from your empathy. It is in the virtues that we are defining the justice we are meant to deliver. It is through the practice of those virtues you learn that this life creates in you self discipline. It creates in you, courage. It creates in you a sense of duty. It creates in you a sense of honor. The study and practice of virtues is what turns you from a fighter to a warrior. Virtues take us from struggle through to hope.
Warriors are defenders of their community. The value is not found in our sword (keeping with our James Williams theme) but in what it protects. The warrior’s value is not that he or she fights but what he or she fights for. Is that not spirit of ‘safety priorities’. James Williams wrote, “The role and ability to protect and defend does not give the warrior-protector the right to misuse this strength and knowledge. You are not superior to nor do you have the right to take advantage of others by means of this strength and ability. If you breach this trust and your sacred responsibility then you are not a warrior-protector. Over the centuries this power has been misused all too often in societies to dominate and control others. This is the dark side of power and has no place in the life of the warrior seeking to live a life of virtue.”
Our Oath is the reminder. It calls for us to put aside our personal beliefs and prejudices. It calls for service to something greater than ourselves and even greater than the name on the badge you wear. It’s in the oath and office you hold not in the name of a geographic location.
The Spartans and Greeks at Thermopile did not hold their ground because they were good fighters. They held their ground because they were warriors protecting each other, their families, and their country. They and that small area of ground are not remembered for the swing of a blade but for their service and sacrifice. Some things never change.
So I ask you again, “What is your profession?”