Ares is a taciturn sort of fellow, but I showed him a meme going around with a picture of Caitlyn Jenner next to a soldier, and he had a mouthful to say about it. Often, when he does speak more than just a few words, his opinions are quite surprising.
For reference: projectile weapons, in ancient Greece, were considered a “coward’s weapon.” Correspondingly, Ares doesn’t think much of modern war, or guns.
Ares is not what you might call eloquent. In order to understand how I experienced this, you need to imagine a gigantic, ripped biker dude wearing bronze armor growling or yelling part or all of this.
Take this message for what it is: if you are fighting for acceptance, Ares thinks you are bad ass.
All courage should be rewarded.
It should be, and it isn’t.
When a soldier faces streams of cowardly bullets shot from behind the safety of walls and sand bags, they face fear. That fear is real. It is physical. It marks them for life, even if the bullet never touches them. A warrior is one who has faced down that fear, overcome it, conquered it, retained their wits and acted according to their sense of duty, loyalty, and their conviction.
A soldier faces down fear of physical harm, but takes comfort in the fantasy — hopefully also the reality! — of being respected and honored by their community when they return home.
Yet a person who must fight for their very right to exist against a horde of enemies trying to force unnatural conformity on them? Their courage is not less. Standing before your peers and announcing that you are something that they viscerally hate does not always pose immediate physical risk, but it does pose physical risk. The cowardly attacks are not usually bullets. Rather, the cowards in question will arm themselves with weapons or surprise, or superior numbers, and corner the individual who is outnumbered and unarmed. The cowardly attacks may deprive a person of shelter, the ability to feed and clothe themselves, or other necessities. It takes courage to face this, far more than it takes to pull the trigger of a gun.
In comparison to the soldier, a person who is announcing themselves as a hated person has far less hope of being honored for their bravery. They can look forward to no war memorial to honor them, should they die at the hands of those who hate them.
It requires no courage to conform. It requires no courage to be who you are where you are not hated for it. There does not need to be a “straight pride parade” any more than there needs to be a parade for civilians. Such events are there to honor the courage, the very real dangers that are faced by these people, simply for having the audacity to present themselves in exactly the way they were born.
It requires courage to face life when the simplest infraction –running a red light, selling a loose cigarette– could cause your death. There does not need to be a “white history month” in a place where being white does not put unreasonable and (too frequently) lethal obstacles in your path on your way to success.
Whiny, squalling little brats do not need a “men’s rights movement.” Sit down and shut up. You are not being oppressed. When one in four of your male friends is beaten by someone they live with, we’ll talk.
This got away from me.
I meant to commend Caitlyn Jenner, and to say that, yes, such a transition requires courage. It is a transition from hiding to not hiding, a transition from easy conformity which poses no threat, to integrity, honesty and publicly being who she is. It could have cost her, and probably did cost her, the respect of people she cared for. It is a transition from safely standing behind the wall, or the sand bags, to running through streams of bullets. It is a transition that caused a large number of people to wish her dead, or to feel justified in killing her, if they could. If she were a coward, she could have quietly embraced herself away from the public eye, but she chose not to. She chose instead to weather criticism and public slander for the purpose of giving courage to her comrades who face what she faced.
Every real warrior faces a moment of truth where they must act, despite fear, or lose who they are.
Find your courage. Do not hide yourself away because of fear. If the world wishes you dead, do not oblige them. Fight back. Do not disappear. Know that in the eyes of the gods, even if not in the eyes of humankind, there is honor in that courage. Step forward, be seen, and we will honor you. Come out, whether what you are hiding is your gender, your orientation, or your religion. This is what it means to be a warrior in times of peace. This is how we fight for the future we desire.