Is there virtue in being competent, formidable, and dangerous? Coming from a life spent in the martial arts, firearms, defensive tactics and as a military veteran, subconsciously I’ve always thought so. I must admit though, at times I wondered if this was something that only others with a background similar to mine could appreciate. That being said, though I’ve spent my life developing these skills, I never stopped to consider the philosophical reasons why this was true.
Over the past two years, the world has changed significantly. The political unrest, lockdowns, supply chain issues, cancel culture, defunding / defaming of law enforcement and the rioting by Antifa, BLM, and others have shown that our once safe United States of America is becoming progressively unsafe.
Instinctively, I have chafed against these changes because both I and my business have been affected by them. So a little over a year ago I made the decision to work in the field of private security; something I now do in addition to my career as a school owner and instructor. Due to my extensive background in the “hard skills,” and after several friends with military / law enforcement backgrounds prompted me, I decided to join them working for a local private security firm.
Naturally I approached this, as I do all new endeavors, with The Empty Cup mindset which has made it enjoyable, fulfilling, and profitable. In just one year I have clocked over 750 hours of experience working in a variety of venues. Sometimes in uniform, sometimes in plain clothes, sometimes wearing body armor, but at all times – being armed and dangerous.
After all, what purpose would it serve to employ someone as a private security specialist, bodyguard, or executive protection specialist if they were less formidable than the people you wanted to be protected from?
Still, it wasn’t until I came across an interview by Jordan Peterson that I sat down and personally considered why being dangerous was indeed a virtue. Peterson, a clinical psychologist, author and speaker from Canada, is considered a controversial figure in some circles and so naturally I wanted to hear what he had to say and judge it for myself.
The interview, conducted by noted journalist John Stossel, and located on YouTube, was simply amazing. Here, Mr. Peterson outlines why there is virtue in being dangerous. While on the surface this may sound primitive, barbaric, or even repulsive to some, his logic is nonetheless indisputable.
Several of the key-points which Peterson makes are:
- Competent and dangerous are the alternatives to being weak and naïve.
- Being weak is not good. For example, the people who commit active shooter events against school children are “weak” and it moves them to violence against others when they can’t cope with the hardships of life.
- It takes strength to be good, and to do the right things (e.g. step up and take responsibility, own up to one’s mistakes, defend what is right in the face of persecution, continue forward despite hardships, etc.)
- If you’re not formidable, there’s no morality in your self-control. If you’re incapable of violence, not being violent isn’t a virtue.
These are just a few of his points and I highly encourage you to watch the interview for yourself. However, what really caught my ear was the analogy Peterson made regarding martial arts. He went on to discuss how the martial arts teach the capacity for being physically dangerous as well as tempering this by teaching the capacity for self-control.
The concepts of self-control, self-discipline, honor, tradition, and personal integrity are universal and run through the martial arts like a watermark.
In nearly every culture around the world, those who practice martial arts or serve in the military or law enforcement are highly-trained in the skills of violence and counter-violence. Yet these skills require that these same individuals be a responsible stewards of them, tempering these skills with a set of moral or ethical precepts. Examples of this are seen in the US military’s Six Articles of the Code of Conduct; in Chinese kung fu as is the concept of Martial Morality; and in the Japanese martial arts as Budo (the Warrior’s Way), just to name a few.
Indeed there is no virtue to be found in “doing no harm,” if one is fully incapable of doing harm in the first place. Why praise and laud someone for their restraint if they are essentially powerless and impotent in the first place? This is akin to praising someone for their generosity, when they graciously give out other peoples’ resources.
It is only through having capacity, yet restraining it; being formidable but abstaining from action; being dangerous, but exercising self-control, that true virtue can be achieved.
Truly, there are only two types of people in this world: those who have the skills to defend themselves and loved ones in a bad situation, and those who don’t. Therefore I would encourage you, whether male or female, regardless of your age, to empower yourselves with the capacity to be dangerous – should the need arise. Take a basic self-defense class, even better is to join an on-going martial arts class, or perhaps begin training in the safe use of firearms. All of these activities will serve to strengthen your mind and body, and will be a benefit your entire community. Remember, there is virtue in being dangerous.
In closing, I quote one of the most famous authorities on the topic of having abundant strength yet exercising limitless restraint in spite of it:
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.Jesus the Christ, Matthew 10:16 (KJV)
Good luck, be strong, and be dangerous!