Just before I left Gainesville, FL to return home after failing miserably in college, a friend of mine at the time, Ryan, gave me a book called “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman.  I didn’t think much of the book and quite honestly I used it as a coaster or a dust-collector.  It never really dawned on me to read it and I really wasn’t much of a reader back then.

One afternoon, while trying to figure out what to do with my life and what direction I was going to take, I looked over at the book, grabbed a towel and my sunglasses and hit the pool.  I was immediately sucked into the book, not just because of the story, but because I was also into the spiritual mind-body practices, at least in theory (yes, it all sounded great in my mind, but I never actually practiced, even though I liked them and wanted to learn about my inner Chi).

The book was great, but I was a young guy, in my very early 20’s, and most of the book went into and out of my head.  A few weeks back, I was going through some old books and came across this book again.  It was dusty and the cover and several pages were bent.  I pulled it out and sat down to reread the book.  And it couldn’t have been more opportune that I should happen upon it.

Over the last several months, maybe even couple of years, I’ve learned to become a peaceful warrior.  In the past, I’ve reacted quickly, hastily to comments I feel passionate about, writing from the heart rather than allowing my head take over, listen to myself and my stance, and understand that in writing, there can be just as much screaming as there is in person.  I didn’t want to be that person.  I would go on a rant and later read it over and think, “What the hell was I just saying!”  I would then erase it and shake my head in embarrassment because it was gibberish.  There may have been a valid point somewhere, but it was hard to figure out with highly intensive slandering, bad language (sometimes) and sentences that went on without a single break while trying to make a point.  I was ashamed because I know that I don’t…nor should I…write like that.  It was time to be different.  It was time not to react, but to act.  It was time to make a point, to be a warrior yet maintain the peace.

I think I’ve achieved that result.  I can’t promise there won’t be a time when I may not write intensely and passionately, but for the most part, I want to try and maintain a level of intelligence, provide facts, and make sure the other person can discuss or argue back the same way.  I always tell my daughter, “Don’t stoop to stupidity.  Don’t get angry with anger.  Just hold your ground, stand firm, and know when to walk away.  But always be able to back up your argument.”

A 50 year-old ex-marine attacked my daughter on Facebook the other day, mostly because she was defending one of her fellow students, David Hogg.  The man called him a child, said he was stupid.  My daughter responded to defend him, saying he is actually quite intelligent as they had a couple of classes together.  The man then turned to belittle my daughter.  Doesn’t matter what he said, she got nasty back, calling him an “asshole” and then blocked him.  So I asked her, “you did a hit and run, huh?”

“What’s that?”
“That’s when you purposely slam someone, then cut them off so they can’t reply.  You hit him by calling him an asshole then blocked him, choosing to run away and not deal.  Did you get something out of it?”

“No.  He just made me really mad.”

“I understand that, but there is not resolve in slamming someone.  Name-calling and bashing is not a solution.  Be smarter than them, honey.  Make them want to tell you off so bad that they say that to you, not the other way around.  Most of the time, they will be pissed off and do the hit and run, but as long as you made your point and it was valid, intelligent, and merely a discussion on your end, you have nothing to worry about.  You will always be able to walk away on top.”

She is learning.  Trust me, I was furious and wanted to blast this jackass (there’s my name-calling), but chose to let her fight this battle.  She will have to learn to do so one day.  I will not be there all the time to fight her battles.  And she needs to learn to become just that – a peaceful warrior.

I feel awful that our society chooses to bash Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg…or I once did.  I don’t any longer.  Why?  Because I’m watching these children become strong adults.  I’m watching them become peaceful warriors.  I’m watching them take what is being thrown at them and instead of lashing out in response, they choose to be smarter.  Now it is possible that someone is guiding them and teaching them, showing them how to respond intelligently much like I’m doing with my daughter.  Or maybe not.  But if so, then I’m sure their parents are guiding them to support their movement.

I’m certain it can’t be easy to take on so much at such a young age.  Six weeks ago, they were students going to school, learning, being teenagers looking forward to prom and graduating soon.  In the blink of an eye, they were planted in front of an entire nation because for the first time in their young lives, they have a passion that they never realized.

There are many who could learn by becoming a peaceful warrior.  There many that NEED to learn to become a peaceful warrior.  I do my best to teach my daughter each day.  She is still learning.  So am I.

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