The image above is of just a few of the war comics my older brother and I collected as small boys.
We collected hundreds.
Why war comics?
Well, yesterday, in Australia and New Zealand, we celebrated ANZAC Day. It is a commemorative day where we remember those who have served in our armed forces. It is for me one of the most emotional days of the year and I am filled with tremendous pride at being Australian. Yesterday was no different.
The above image is appropriate for what I am about to write, as it was through comics such as these, along with other inspiring books and resources, that I began my lifelong study of and admiration for the warrior and the spirit with which they live.
I will always be grateful to my older brother for the passion with which he explored the great warriors of both modern and ancient history. This passion was handed on to me and what my own explorations unveiled would come to play a key role in defining the values and principles that would guide my life.
Even as a young boy, my attraction to these tales was never the action. It was the discipline, courage and honour that guided these warriors.
Enthralled by stories of the Spartans of ancient Greece and other brave warriors from various cultures throughout history, the word ‘warrior’ and the concept of the ‘warrior’s spirit’ would become concepts I would hold close to my heart from my time as a young boy.
Today, I feel the term ‘warrior’ is used a little too loosely and often in a manner betraying its essence. However, the purpose of today’s post is not to lament the rough treatment of a term I hold dear, but rather, draw inspiration from ANZAC Day to celebrate the true spirit of the warrior and the qualities that guide their actions.
Yesterday morning I awoke at 3.57am and started my day. Before long I was readying myself for the Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial.
I attended the service and was blessed to share the experience with a veteran by the name of Jeff, whom I met moments after I arrived.
Now before I move on, this post is not a validation of war or violence nor does it encourage either of these. It is a mark of respect to a special type of person whose actions speak louder than words.
Meeting Jeff made yesterday quite special. We spoke of life in the armed forces. I asked honest questions and Jeff gave honest answers.
At one point I mentioned to Jeff that while I had serious doubts over whether I possessed the courage to fight in the physical sense I said that I drew inspiration from soldiers and warriors throughout history to stand up and fight for the things I believe in my own way.
Now this piece of writing is not a celebration of war or violence but rather a celebration of some of the qualities demonstrated by warriors and soldiers that we could apply to make our lives more effective and meaningful.
Well, that’s if we want to describe ourselves as warriors.
Warriors have a sense of duty. They feel they have a responsibility to stand up for others and to protect them. So much so they decide to make this their living. And they make this choice knowing they will be putting their lives at risk.
Warriors are defenders. They protect land, the people who dwell on it and the way of life of those dwellers. In their ‘job’ they give up the comforts, freedoms and lifestyle the people they defend are able to enjoy.
And this leads to another quality I admire innate to the warrior spirit.
The warrior understands the concept of sacrifice. For the warrior cannot pursue the life of freedom that many of us desire and pursue with all we have.
They sacrifice the very things we desire most.
They also sacrifice choice. They have committed to a particular way of life that will be uncomfortable. They and their comrades will face difficult and challenging situations.
Jeff, the veteran, believes it was this fact that created the spirit that many of us celebrate on ANZAC Day.
What can we take from this?
That it is adversity that cultivates spirit. I think this is something the general population could learn much from, as adversity is clearly not something we approach in an empowering manner.
Warriors have a strong sense of duty and service. It is why they are called the armed services.
The service that guides a warrior’s actions is the service of others. And this, in essence, is the service of love.
When you think of your actions do you believe deep down they are guided by the unconditional service of others or the service of yourself.
Think about this. And don’t answer this question with noise. Answer it with silence, as this is the only way you will get an honest answer.
Needless to say I have covered here some of the reasons why I feel the deepest admiration for those who have served so I may enjoy the lifestyle that I do.
And I extend this admiration for those who have served other lands and other cultures and at other times throughout history.
I said to Jeff that I have often wondered how I would have faired in the armed services. And suggested I would not have been too crash hot.
He said, ‘you’d be quite surprised what you can do when you have no choice.’
He said he thought I would have done just fine.
I replied, ‘maybe, maybe not’.
But what I can do is bring the values and qualities I have reflected on here, those qualities of the brave soldiers I admire so much, to a vocation of spiritual service.
Quite appropriate, I would say, given my personal belief the world has quite the spiritual battle on its hands.
So for me ANZAC Day is a special day that allows me to connect to concepts such as duty, sacrifice and service, which guide me in my day-to-day struggles.
Each day I take great inspiration and humility from the generations of soldiers and warriors who claim to value these things and then dedicate a life to proving it through action.
How blessed we are to have had so many people sacrifice so much, so we can have so much.
And, as another ANZAC Day fades into memory, may we bring the qualities of the brave warriors we remember to each day until we welcome the next.
Lest we forget!
Or have we forgotten already?
If you would like to explore spiritual ‘warriorship’ join me in ‘Phusion 365’. It begins on May 1st and will run until May 2nd, 2018. You do not need to be spiritual or religious to question the way things are.