Warriors Into the Breach
When I reflect upon the fifteen years since September 11, 2001, a couple different perspectives come to mind. First, the terror attack against America that day was the opening of a new front in a seriously long clash of civilizations. This new front opened as the result of new technologies that led to rapid globalization, starting with international air travel, Sea-Land container ships and ubiquitous television broadcast by satellite. None of these technologies were available in mass form until the late 1960’s. In 30 years (roughly one generation), the geographic boundaries forced after WWII between the fragmented Ottoman Empire, Persian and Arab world, and Europe and it’s allies, was suddenly irrelevant. The Jihadist’s were not constrained by geography any longer. The entire world was now their playground, and America was the prized target. It was almost inevitable that a 9/11 style event would happen, as there was no serious effort to ensure that our own technologies, and the openness of our own society, wouldn’t be turned against us.
As has been the case since the dawn of modern man, when crisis comes to the home front, the warriors of that society willingly step into the breach. They do this to protect the tribe and bring stability and peace back into order. This brings me to my second perspective – that many, many warriors stepped into the breach on that day 9/11. Many of you reading this did. And you were not all military warriors, but also countless first responders and citizen warriors who stepped up to serve on that dismal day, and many days since. In our parlance at SEALFIT, we call this warrior attitude a “sheepdog mentality.” The sheepdog watches over the flock and is willing to risk his or her own life to protect it. Many did not know they had a sheepdog mentality until they watched TV in stunned silence on 9/11, and felt a burning rage and utter need to do something. That was the sheepdog coming alive, the warrior spirit activated, and something needing to be done.
My message today is that more needs to be done, and we need more to step into their sheepdog mentality. Though the fifteen years since 9/11 have seen many heroic fights won and lost by warriors trying to stem the tide, what has been termed “the long war” continues. This clash of civilizations has been going on for centuries and with this new front open, we will see our technologies and freedom being used against us in even more insidious ways. Further, because we have been so insensitive to our environment, resources are getting more scarce. This scarcity will lead to further unrest, and instability in much of the world, leading to anti-globalist movement, warlords and more violence. If all this sounds grim, I agree. At the same time, I am an optimist and believe that we can come out of the other side in much better shape. But to do this…we need more warriors now.
It is time for us to honor those who gave their lives on 9/11, and the warriors who have fought and died since, by re-engaging our sheepdog mentality and coming together to face the common enemy. Just because we can’t see them massing tanks and armor doesn’t mean they aren’t there. We must begin to pay closer attention, to train ourselves to be more aware and to defend ourselves. We must stop fighting over petty politics, against helpless immigrants or railing against a police force struggling to stem violence created by our own welfare state. Rather we need to pull our shit together and, like warriors from all ages, step into the breach and fight for our way of life. If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything, and this great nation will fall with us. Together we can do this. As citizen-sheepdog Todd Beamer said on 9/11, ”Let’s roll.”