If ever we needed a true and undaunted warrior spirit - one that fearlessly seeks peace - it is now.
South Africa descended into turmoil this past week. I am certainly not a political writer - this is not my territory. It is the sentiments of discouragement and anger and the task of rebuilding our war-torn streets that weighs on my heart. This, coupled with the ravaging effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic has created the perfect storm.
As a self-defence instructor my life is devoted to helping those who consider themselves defenceless in the face of physical violence and the threat of death, develop the necessary skills to survive.
It is often in the process of teaching physical skills that I witness many students discovering an inner strength - meeting a part of themselves they never knew existed, meeting the fearless warrior within them - one that is not only better prepared to defend against violent attack, but one who is better prepared to defend against the battles of life in general. They discover their inner urban samurai - immovable, unshakeable with an indomitable mindset.
This past week anarchy has led to so much destruction. I have spoken to many people who feel defenseless to outside powers and circumstances over which they have little to no control, whether it be damage and destruction to their properties and livelihoods, looting and rioting on the streets or the profligate corruption, astounding inefficiency and plundering within our government. The prevailing sentiment is that people have been left feeling enraged, defeated, dis-empowered and desperate.
While we may not feel anxiety or fear, we will certainly come across others that do. We can either join them in their negative talk, or rise to our higher calling by demonstrating a mindset of hope, undaunted courage, peace, compassion (even where it is not merited), resilience, determination and honour.
When we live be example, we help others to take courage, to get up, dust themselves off and start again.
The samurai warrior trained endlessly for battle to lessen the natural fear they would feel in combat, allowing them to remain calm. Being as prepared as possible for combat was the one thing they had in their command.
While we do not live in the time of the samurai, we do face battles of a different kind every day that require consistent training. We need to become proficient in our weapon handling - wielding the weapons of wisdom, clear judgement, strength of character and resilience.
Winning these battle requires deliberate and purposeful training of our mindsets and of our thoughts. We need to take our thoughts captive. This isn’t a once-off, flash in the pan, exercise based on a fleeting moment of inspiration. It is a way of living practiced with high intention.
If we truly want to develop the heart of a warrior, one that can touch the world for the better, serve others and establish peace, we need to train our mindsets as diligently as we train our self-defence techniques.
Disabling thoughts must be confronted head on - negative thinking, worry, fear and anxiety. Fear and anxiety put people on the sidelines watching life happen. The reality is do we not have control over our lives. When we accept this and no longer need control, we gain peace.
Worry is an act of faith that the worst-case scenario will come to pass. Anxiety is rooted in things that we can’t control. We have no control over the reality that in this world we will have trouble. But we do have control over whether we decide to allow our hearts to be troubled and afraid.