It is philosophy that serves not to motivate, but to inspire. It is not a philosophy for warriors; it is a philosophy that serves human beings. That’s all warriors are, at the end of the day; human beings with a highly specified skillset. But human beings.
It is an examination of how we look at the world, or how we might be able to see the world around us. It is a philosophy that requires us not just to ponder life, but to act on life. To live active lives of purpose.
We have called this book “a warrior philosophy for everyone” for a reason. In our contemporary popular imagination, we have become comfortable with a very narrow concept of what it means to be a “warrior.” Many embrace what they call the “sheepdog” mentality, emphasizing that warriors are the ones who “run towards the sound of gunfire.” In certain circles, the quote oft attributed to George Orwell, that “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf,” has gained momentum and popularity. This is partially correct: these definitions absolutely do apply in a very literal sense to the members of the military and law enforcement communities who seek to mitigate threats before they touch innocent lives.
But by the same token, we must expand our notion of what it means to be a “warrior” to include all those who run towards the sound of metaphorical “gunfire”: those darkest, and perhaps most painful, tender, and intimate corners of human existence from which most of us shield ourselves. Because any time one of us chooses to confront uncomfortable and painful truths, we are acting in the warrior’s capacity. Martin Luther King, Jr. Susan B. Anthony. Abraham Lincoln. The Dalai Lama. The hospice caregiver or NICU nurse; volunteers at nonprofit organizations and places of worship working to ease other people’s burdens; the child who stands up for another being bullied; the person who gives up more self-serving personal activities to spend quiet time with an aging relative or neighbor. Diverse acts and identities, all, and the possibility for naming them is endless. But the one commonality which they all share is that they involve willfully coming face to face with realities of human existence that are uncomfortable for us to face: aging, illness, mortality, cruelty, poverty, loneliness, inhumanity. Any time we confront these issues head on, we are acting in a warrior’s capacity—no different than the Ranger team assaulting the door of a target, charging towards the unknown and the potential for violence and death. At the end of the day, this is what all warriors share: a need to jump into the fray. A need to confront these deepest and most painful issues, and a willingness to accept any risk in the process of doing so—no matter what it may cost us.
We live in a society that privileges us with the possibility of insulating ourselves from many of these concerns, if we wish. We can self-medicate with food, media, and social media, building an inner life of defenses designed to prevent us from facing some of the painful realities of existence. It is easy, possible, and tempting for many to turn a blind eye to matters of great human import. But for those of you who cannot—if you cannot turn your back; if you see suffering and must act; if you cannot live without giving your all to combat suffering, pain, loneliness, and injustice; if you find no thought more noxious than the possibility of living a life without deep purpose—then you, too, are a warrior. And today, perhaps more than ever, our world needs warriors in all aspects of life: government, schools, hospitals, and communities. We need people everywhere identifying the leaky holes and plugging them; running towards the emergencies that they see—both literal and existential—and not being able to live with themselves until they have done all in their power to make a change.
Philosophy is to be the guiding light that illuminates our path when we accept our own warrior’s calling. Like Virgil—the great poet of antiquity, who led Dante down through the circles of the Inferno to confront Satan face to face—philosophy is to be our security in these endeavors. It helps to guide our hand and make sense of the nonsensical. It transcends nationality, culture, and faith to touch on universal principles common to all humanity. And it can sustain our sanity in our darkest hour.
When seeking guidance on our own individual warrior paths, we are right to seek motivation from our Special Operations veterans. Still, they are not just sources of information on living lives of action (setting and crushing goals, pushing the limits of our comfort zones and our capabilities). There is an added and critical dimension to this, one that philosophers have pondered since the beginning of time when considering the differences between the active and the contemplative life. The reality is that, as Plato says in the Republic of the scholar-athlete, “He who is only an athlete is too crude, too vulgar, too much a savage. He who is a scholar is too soft, too effeminate. The ideal citizen is the scholar athlete, the man of thought and the man of action.” It is, for this reason, our joint effort here to provide a thoughtful leadership philosophy by calling upon both an academic knowledge of philosophical tradition and a practical understanding of human nature—born of wartime leadership experience. Our objective is to provide not just theoretical knowledge, but wisdom—knowledge evolved and tested in the crucible of true human nature.
This is a book for human beings. It contains lessons learned and confirmed through life experiences: giving life, taking life, fighting for one’s own life. Philosophy is merely the method of expression and explanation. But the ideas are tools that should carry us forth better armed to face life’s challenges than we were before we encountered them. We must temper and guide our impulse to action with contemplation. It is not enough to be people of action. We must strive to be people of thoughtful action—and that is what this book is about.
Whatever each of us seeks from philosophy–whether it is solace and consolation, or advice and guidance–the underpinning is that we are striving to be better. We are fighting against complacency at every turn. We refuse to show up as less than the best possible version of ourselves each and every day. Life is only in part what happens to us. The other part is: what are we going to do about it?
We are not here to merely think;
We are not here to only act;
We are here to think and act.
 Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (Free Press, 1979).
 Brian Doerries, Theater of War (Vintage, 2016).
 Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Letters From a Stoic, Transl. Robin Campbell (Penguin, 1969).
 Plato, Republic, Transl. G.M.A. Grube (Hackett, 1992).
You can continue reading the story written by LTC (Ret) JC Glick and author, Dr. Alice Atalanta by buying the book on Paperback, by purchasing it here: ‘Meditations of an Army Ranger: A Warrior Philosophy for Everyone
From Amazon.com: Forged in combat and synthesized to handle the opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century, Meditations of an Army Ranger describes a practical, modern day philosophy to guide us all in our daily lives. As the book outlines, you must do more than talk about your philosophy; you must live it, exemplify it, and apply it in a consistent and focused manner to make the world a better place. As a culture, we currently tend to seek little more than motivation from our Special Operations warriors and in this, we are missing the mark, as they have far more to offer us. From ancient times, we have built our human foundations upon the philosophy of warriors. Not on their philosophy of war, but on their philosophy of life. How they saw the world. The ideas of democracy, service, education, and love that evolved from earlier generations of human beings who had seen combat. Philosophy, to these ancient warriors, was not a luxury reserved for the privileged, but rather a tool; a necessity required not only to fight better, but to live better. The time is now ripe for the return of the warrior-philosopher. We are hungry for it: the wisdom and guidance which can be brought to us by someone with firsthand experience of the real world. What does it really take to lead other human beings? If we are to seek a true substance matter expert on the topic, it behooves us to ask someone who has not only led, but who has led under the most adverse conditions. War is perhaps the greatest teacher of human nature; as it affords human beings the opportunity to witness and experience both the highest pinnacles and the deepest nadirs of our existence often simultaneously. Soldiers in combat are put into situations that force them to ask themselves questions that are central to philosophy, and these are not small questions. They penetrate deeply into the soul of what it means to be a human being. Philosophers choose to ask them; warriors have to ask them. All this being said, Meditations of an Army Ranger is not a book of pure philosophy. It takes an unintimidating approach to deep, rich, and thought-provoking content. The result is a practical, accessible, and readily applicable work of contemporary thought that both draws upon the past and suggests new directions for the future. Men and women of action, take note. Meditations of an Army Ranger establishes a practical roadmap for purposeful action and thoughtful personal growth. Its aim is not to motivate, but to inspire. It is not a philosophy for warriors; it is a philosophy that serves human beings. That s all warriors are, at the end of the day; human beings with a highly specified skillset. But human beings. Read, understand, and apply in order to honorably lead and serve in all walks of life.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal December 19, 2018.