Sunday’s Wisdom #39: Why We Will Fight

“We’ll fight, not out of spite,
For someone must stand up for what’s right.”
– from the song “Hands,” by Jewel

Anger. Malice. Spite. These are the primary urges within us that spur us towards hurting others, hurting our fellow man and other creatures. These are not the only emotions which nudge us in the direction of violence, and other forms of causing pain, but they’re easily among the most common. So common, in fact, that some people do not comprehend how one can engage in any sort of hurt without being motivated by these lesser impulses.

Yet, such is the case. When one is driven by morality and the necessities requisite to defending such, this is entirely different from being driven by anger.

I mean, sometimes it can be well justified! A father finds some brute doing harm to his daughter, for instance. The urge to protect our young, our friends, our women, our elders, these are all noble desires, essential to our humanity and our freedom. To protect or, failing that, to avenge those dear to us is not an inherently bad thing. Unfortunately, it can all too easily slide into something dark and destructive.

That’s why I like Jewel’s lyrics so much. It takes only anger to do harm, but it takes actual courage, which is born from love, not hatred, to stand up for our fellows and for what is right in the face of overwhelming, even threatening, opposition. It is the nobler motivation, and makes for a purer effort, one which can unite people instead of divide us. Physical force, lethal, merciless aggression, and underhanded tricks which sully the soul, all of these become the last resort, instead of the first, if one can keep one’s intentions pure.

The compromise of one’s standards comes less easy to the soul that knows what they are truly fighting for.

Such are the makings of great men, and the leaders of great men.

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