Happy Valentine’s Day!
It is ironic that we have only one special day set aside to show our love and appreciation for those that we hold dear. Whether it be a spouse, a child, a parent, or someone close to you, Valentine’s Day is looked upon as the day that we tell those closest to us how we feel about them. We may say it with a gift, a card, or a bouquet of flowers. Through words or deeds, we are using this special day to let someone know that they hold a special place in our lives.
In our teaching, we try to stress that embedded in the training is an underlying message that is embodied with two key concepts, those being love and hope. In a martial arts context, hope is a little easier to understand. By teaching someone skills that lead to greater abilities, the by-product of hope is created. No longer will a person be forced to live in abject fear. Although the possibility may arise that they may have to use their skills in a confrontation that threatens life and limb, they have a hope that is bred from confidence, knowledge, and skill.
But what about love? How can teaching someone skills and techniques that have the potential to maim another human being be representative of love? At first glance, the two concepts of fighting and showing love do seem mutually exclusive. It just depends on the context in which you approach the subject.
We have often been asked by corporate clients and students how we balance our Christian faith with some of the things we teach. Admittedly, depending on the subject matter, the courses have the propensity to become intense and unpalatable to many people. The solution to this dilemma lies in the state of the heart. This is not related to the physical health of the heart. Rather, it is related to the spiritual and emotional health of the heart. In short, if confronted with a potentially life-threatening situation that mandates a grave response, we look at the state of our heart when measured against our response. We do not act out of malice toward our adversary. We only act out of necessity. We do that which will ensure that our safety and life will be preserved. It is not an act which is accompanied by a sense of pride or joy. It is simply a path that must be walked to ensure that our gift of life is preserved.
How then are we expressing love for another human being by inflicting pain upon them, albeit out of necessity?
A person must first understand that they have a right, and an obligation, to love themselves. They are unique, in that physically, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally, no two humans on the planet are a carbon copy of one another. In a dangerous situation, the student first must acknowledge that the desire to escape safely is an act of love for the self. Otherwise, it would be tantamount to an attempted suicide. The mere fact that people seek to improve their knowledge, skills, and abilities in order to lead safer lives is a testimony as to the reality of self-love.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of our teaching is that the skills gained and honed are far superior from a moral standpoint when used not in self-protection, but “other-protection.” We are told in scripture that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend (John 15:13). This is especially true when working with young people.
In the past we have worked with groups of teens and have expressed the idea that the moral high road when confronting abusive behaviors such as bullying is to stand up for those that are weaker than the bully. If a physical intervention is needed, then if that is necessary, so be it. That has led to a moral quagmire for many parents. “But what if my child gets in trouble?” This is a very real concern, but when returning to the concept of love, the choice becomes much clearer when approaching the solution from a perspective of our faith. Would you rather be judged by man, or would you rather have your actions or inactions judged by God? The judgment of man is flawed and in terms of history, it is temporary. For the person of faith, the judgment of God is infinite. It is imperative that we teach our clients, especially our younger students, that the necessity of the act and any resulting consequences should be placed in the proper moral and ethical context.
Violence is a subject that tends to create tunnel vision. We focus narrowly on the actor and the associated intentions of the action. The physical act and its results tend to be what many people focus on when examining violence at any point along the continuum. In an act of justified self-protection, the focus should not be lost on the rationale behind the act. The focus should not be placed on the act, nor should it be placed on the perpetrator. It is here that our legal system has failed countless citizens. If an unfortunate series of events unfolds that requires a violent act of self-protection, it must be stressed that this is not an act of hate or malice toward the person that set out to do us harm. Rather, it is an act of love. It is an act of love by protecting the precious gift of life that has been given to us. It is an act of love by protecting the precious gift of life that has been given to a person we may be defending that for whatever reason has neither the willpower nor capacity to protect their own well-being.
It has become anathema to truly understand love and its many manifestations. Love is paid lip service in a modern society that is being torn apart by deceit. There is nothing wrong with loving and respecting who we truly are as a unique individual. Beyond this, the true mark of the moral man is to have the courage to stand up for those that cannot stand up for themselves, by force if necessary.
Today is Valentine’s Day. It is a day to express love. It is our sincere hope that you take the day and express your love for those closest to you. Life is precious, and it is fleeting. We also hope that you take the time to place value on yourself.
In today’s world, we don’t tell each other we love them enough, nor do we hear it enough. To all of our past, present and future clients and students, know that you are loved.