The Warrior Archetype and Violence
The Warrior archetype is a fundamental aspect of the human psyche. The Warrior is trained to regulate aggression and violence inherent in our species to defend any threat against his/her safety and well-being and those he/she vows to defend. Physical prowess in defense skills, athletic capabilities, strategies are critical to generating health and vitality, longevity, stamina and courage in the face of danger whether it be on the battlefield or in every day civilian life.
Our culture is oddly ambivalent about the warrior archetype. We venerate Michael Vick and reward him with money, fame and adulation. We worship professional wrestlers, basketball players and have love-hate relationships with people like Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong and other sports champions who may or may not use performance enhancing drugs. Testosterone is the male hormone that not only determines sexual drive and prowess, but affects the psyche in powerful ways. Testosterone - in men and women - provides the drive to fight, to win, and to win again. Philosopher Ken Wilber calls it the " f*** it or kill it response". Testosterone masks feelings of pain and discomfort, increasing tolerance of pain and allowing men to maintain their stamina in fights, especially when testosterone levels are high. Testosterone dependent secondary sexual characteristics in males also signals to females that the male is healthy in other ways - strong, dominant and possessing immunological toughness.
Blood sports involving the fighting of animals have been with us since antiquity. If you are a fan of Shakespeare, you know that bear-baiting and dog fighting have been entertainment for our species for a long, long time. It continues in some cultures. Many dog breeds have been developed specifically for fighting. In some cultures and countries, dog fighting is still legal, like Latin America, Russia and Japan. Violent competition as entertainment has been enjoyed by humans since the origin of our species. What Michael Vick did to dogs was appalling, cruel and wrong. But in my mind, he himself is a victim. The child of teenage parents raised in a rough neighborhood where dog fighting was part of the culture, his father was never around to teach him right from wrong. People recognized his talent and rewarded him for it. A lot of people made money from his talent. Everyone was happy as his star rose. There were little signs of trouble - flipping off the fans, giving the gift of Herpes 2 to a girlfriend. Then there are the good things about him - donating funds for the support of the families of the Virginia Tech massacre, support of the Boys and Girls Club. Friends know him as a caring person who just loves to fish.
When these gifted athletes fall, they fall hard, and they fall alone. Look at the WWE superstars, Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant, Jose Conseco, the list is endless. Maybe the organizations who profit most from these talented but troubled men - like the NFL - should do a better job taking care of their own. Counseling to help young men who grew up poor in the projects who are suddenly wealthy, famous and celebrated adjust to the change in their fortunes and friendships doesn't seem like a lot to ask. While the NFL is busy castigating Michael Vick, maybe it should take a good hard look at itself.
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