What are the characteristic of the modern warrior guardian? Each culture has developed and still maintains to a certain degree, a “protector class” within their society, either professionally created and government sponsored, or grown organically within the population as a means of safeguard. At various times and places throughout history different attributes were required based on context, but what is offered to you here is a collective list of what can be applied today. Training, experience and reality has formed this list of what I think is important to internalize as a modern guardian.
I hope this generates discussion, and encourage comment as we continue to learn. For a solid background tying history to today, check out Shannon E. French’s The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present which I think is a great first start in internalizing and developing the attributes necessary to that of the protector.
First and foremost, a Guardian is there when needed to help those in distress, be it toward himself, his family, his country, or even upon a stranger. He is a courageous person who does not shy away from confrontation and who stands by what he knows is morally right, legal, and necessary.
As a self-appointed protector, the Guardian is not a vigilantly, but a vigilant member of the community, ready to step up to the challenges that may confront those close to him and those who may not otherwise be able to help or defend themselves.
This does not automatically require physical confrontation. Sometimes attention to the issue and reporting to others with more capacity to assist (such as police, ambulance, social services, etc) may be all that is required. However, the Guardian must stand ready to step up when necessary.
Perhaps the time-honored hallmark of the warrior and Guardian is his integrity. Just as in the turbulent and violent times when warriors fought for their sovereigns and protected the people, the modern warrior must act justly and exemplify righteousness. He must be guided by strong personal ethics and sound moral justification.
In essence, guardian does what he says, and says what he does.
Taken directly from the military academies world-over, a “Modern Knight” must always endeavor to be truthful in word and deed, refrain from gaining advantage over someone through nefarious means, and never take what is not justly his. This code in particular is not always practical and will constantly test you. Things are rarely black or white. Realistically, certain situations may require a deviation from this code, such as in polite society when brutal honesty would hurt another, or when attempting to out maneuver a foe through deception. I think that’s obvious. Honor and integrity, however, is the foundation of action that keeps society from devolving into self-absorbed chaos. It stands as your rally point for righteous action.
One cannot serve as a protector without being able to put aside fear in order to act. Hone this ability on a daily basis by doing what you know is right, even if it may “hurt”.
And then there are going to be the times when you could be absolutely paralyzed by fear of personal harm, or the possibility of a catastrophically bad decision making. That kind of courage isn’t so much about not being scared, but rather acting in spite of fear.
This is moral and physical courage. The Guardian is steadfast in both and able to act or make decisions based on what he knows he must do, or how he must act. Draw courageous strength by knowing your convictions and capabilities.
A guardian is devoted. He must assume an unfaltering, “never quit” attitude to see him through the most difficult challenges or obstacles. Key to this aspect is faith. Traditionally, the ancient protector poured his faith into his personal god, drawing strength from his god and his representatives on earth. He was typically justified by his religious beliefs. Such is still applicable today for the true believer.
However, this source of religious faith is not a prerequisite for the modern Guardian. Strong conviction in word and action can easily be taken from the strength of relationships with family, friends and community. And when they’re not available, the Guardian maintains his faith in his own abilities.
From wherever you draw your spiritual passion and personal fortitude, you must remain committed to the concept that your beliefs will power, guide and give you conviction to act.
Perhaps the most applicable and important aspect of the Guardian, is the ability to adjust your actions in the midst of changing circumstances. This is a powerful attribute that applies to most any situation you may find yourself in.
From simply driving to work, to walking down the street, to engaging a foe, to interviewing for a job, you can adjust your actions to best fit all aspects and assets of the scenario that may be enhancing or taking away from a positive outcome. Basically, “go with the flow” based on what you know. Granted, the more you know beforehand, the better your adjustments.
This is the hallmark of a person who can take charge in different situations, adjusting to what is necessary to come out on top. This attribute can be enhanced by an understanding of planning and decision-making, self-awareness, and situational awareness. I will detail these concepts in the following posts.
Those striving to the ideals of the modern warrior cannot operate efficiently or effectively when mired in indecisiveness or intoxicated. As one who is ready to act, the Guardian must have the clarity of thought and discipline in decision to arrive at the most appropriate plan of action.
You must maintain the will, desire, discipline, and initiative to train your mind in order to think things through. Typically, stressful situations present themselves amidst overwhelming information; lots of things coming at you at onec. All must be taken in, analyzed and synthesized into action. In order to do so effectively, the mind must be trained and maintained just as a muscle. And just as a muscle, the Guardian must maintain mental dexterity; possessing the cognitive resilience to act autonomously in an environment of chaos. As such, he must also be able to excel in ambiguity (See Adaptable.)
When all the information is not available to create a certain plan of action, you must be able to prioritize what you are able to take in, and act with what little information might guide you towards success. Quite frankly, in order to be adaptable, you can’t be a stupid.
Aside from the obvious requirements, a protector must be able to physically perform and if the situation requires, dominate a potential threat. Simply from the aspects of well-being and the positive psychological effects that superior physical fitness give you, such an attribute stands essential to the modern warrior’s ability to move effectively. You must always maintain a high enough state of bearing, posture and presence to inspire others and portray capability as somebody who can take care of business.
Tied to physical presence, the Guardian must stand as an example through word and deed for others to emulate. He is a leader of organizations, in ad hoc groups, and in emergencies. As such, he must be able to motivate others to action when under great stress.
Most situations that may force a Guardian into action present stressors that are not normally faced on a routine basis. Violence, chaos, despair, and confusion all take away from rational and effective decision-making. As a leader and protector, the modern warrior must display self-control and discipline, and remain calm under pressure. While you can’t avoid agitation, worry, and self-doubt, all must be mitigated by a stoic and rational approach based on Mental Fitness. The Guardian is able to channel these energies into clarity and focus.