Do Real Men Fight?

There’s an idea that has been going around for years.  You’ve heard it.  People love to say, “Violence never solves anything.”  The statement is meant to push people to engage in dialog to avoid violence.

However, let’s be honest for a moment.  Violence solves plenty.  The Holocaust, for example.  More importantly, though, is that violence solves the problem of evil in our world.

Photo by Hans Splinter
Photo by Hans Splinter

For most of us, unless we’re in the military, we’re not likely to be asked to fight for the sake of ending genocide.  That doesn’t mean we won’t have to fight.

Years ago, I was being harassed in my sixth-grade class by another student.  The teacher was out of the room, so this student decided it was a fine time to up his usual harassment.

Now, I’d been told for ages that violence wouldn’t solve anything, so I tried to stand my ground as nonviolently as possible.

“What are you going to do if I put my finger in your face?” he asked.

I gently pushed it to the side and said, “I’ll move it.”  I kept my voice even and non-aggressive.

Again he put the finger in my face and warned, “Don’t touch me again.  Now, what are you going to do?”

Obviously, this was a challenge.  The other boy clearly wanted to force me to back down to assert his dominance.  Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t in that kind of mood.

I gently pushed his hand to the side again.

He shoved me out of my desk, and the fight was on.

Who won?  Who knows.  It was a sprawling mess of barely landed punches, headlocks, and not much else.  It was a sixth-grade fight, after all.

Now, let’s contrast this with a moment when I didn’t fight.

I was at the fair with a good friend.  We met up at the local fair.  We also ran into this freshman (we were juniors if I remember right) that had a major crush on my friend.

While off to the side, the girl ran into a guy she’d supposedly done something to.  She was laughing and trying to hide behind my friend, so at first we didn’t register there was a legitimate problem.

However, when this guy started punching the girl in the back of the head, it was clear.

My friend was in no position to see what was happening.  He couldn’t do anything about it.

I was.

I’ve rationalized what happened for some time.  Yes, I was in shock when it first started happening as I tried to process that this kid was hitting a girl in the back of the head, but that doesn’t last too long.

Through the years, I’ve told myself a lot of things to try and make me feel better:

  1. I’d get kicked out of the fair.
  2. My Dad would whoop my butt because I’d gotten into this mess.
  3. I’ll lose the fight and then be humiliated because I’d lost to a freshman.
  4. It’s not like I actually cared a bit about the girl who, frankly, I found kind of annoying at the time.

All kinds of things have gone through my head.  The reality?  I was scared, so I didn’t fight.  In short, I was a coward.

There may be no feeling that unmans you quite like cowardice.  The old saw about how a coward dies a thousand deaths but a hero dies but one?  It’s true.

Which is why many years later, when I heard a female voice across the street crying for help, I went.

Her boyfriend was beating her right there in the front yard.  I was dressed for bed, but I wouldn’t let that stop me.  Nor would I let my fear of the unknown nature of the threat stop me either.

Luckily, the guy ran off, but I felt a lot better about the incident at the fair.  Not absolved of my sins, but I did feel like I’d chosen better.

More importantly, as the woman and her family thanked me, I felt like a man.

Yes, men fight.  Anyone who tries to argue otherwise is either willfully lying or they’ve completely deluded themselves to believe reality doesn’t exist.

Perhaps they fight when pushed like I did in sixth-grade, or perhaps they do when fronted with someone hitting a woman, which I have a mixed track record of in my own history.

Some guys actually like it, so they get involved in martial arts, boxing, MMA, or whatever.  Others study those things so if they have to fight, they’ll know what they’re doing.  Others join the military because they want to fight for a righteous cause like defending their nation.

Still others simply find themselves thrust into situations from time to time.

Some will look at the question and say, “No.  Next question,” but they are simply pointing to themselves as people who need to be ignored.  Men fight.  That point isn’t some moral proclimation either.  It’s simply a statement of fact.

In fact, as someone who spent time feeling unmanned because I didn’t, I feel confident in saying not only do real men fight, but that anyone who refuses to fight under any circumstances isn’t a real man.

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