49 The Warrior Archetype

Episode Forty-Nine: Who Is the Enemy?

If the human being was born for adversity … and if the Warrior Archetype was implanted within our psyche (or evolved on its own) to assist us in fighting wars … what war should we fight?

Who is the enemy?

Today’s episode makes the case that there’s only one real war — and that’s the war inside ourselves.

Do you want to call yourself a man (or a woman)?

Fight THAT war.

Stand up to THAT enemy.

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here


  1. Joe on February 1, 2021 at 8:11 am

    Oh, man. The talk in this space just keeps getting wider and deeper. So much that gets discussed here is about how our understanding of life influences what we put on the page. This week turns it around… what we’ve learned from our writing and what’s been written, and how that can help us understand our lives.

    Good insights into our internal fears and conflicts being projected out on others.

    • Brian Nelson on February 1, 2021 at 9:28 am

      Agreed 100%. This was the pivot I think we all were expecting somewhere in our minds/souls, and it is empowering to see it explicitly.

  2. Brian Nelson on February 1, 2021 at 9:27 am

    So much good stuff here today, will likely cue up ‘War of Art & Turning Pro’ in my Audible app today.

    Something that I have never thought about, or understood until I both read the blog and listened to the video. Arjuna doesn’t say that he’s afraid to fight those across the field. He said he loves them. They are his friends, family, he loves them.

    How dysfunctional is that? And yet, how insightful? Does an alcoholic want to give up drinking? Do we hate our righteous indignation? Do we hate Doom-Scrolling the news? Heck no, we LOVE them. If they weren’t so seductively attractive, cable news, social media, click-bait journalism, and overly-processed food would be blips in our days instead of the most profitable companies in this economy.

    Do I blame Twitter, FaceBook, MSNBC and FOXNEWS, American Tobacco, Coors, or Kraft for my problems? I do, especially when I’m in my victimhood foxhole, cloaked in victimhood thinking and feeling. It is so easy, familiar, comfortable & comforting.

    Jordan Peterson does a fascinating lecture about sacrifice in his series about the psychological significance of the Biblical Stories. His take on Abraham sacrificing Isaac is, IMHO, the best secular description of this savage passage I have ever heard.

    I think Jordan and Steve are saying the same things, yet using different language. Steve, the artist, made the enemy clearer with the imagery of Resistance. Peterson, the academic, names it pedantically as sacrifice.

    My meditation for the day will be to examine all of the things I ‘think’ I love. Something I have never done is to make Resistance absolutely personal for me. How, exactly, do I give in? What, specifically, do I say to myself when trying to avoid my work/purpose?

    I’ve been here for years, nodding my head as I read. Naming the beast(s) is the first part of targeting. I worked Intelligence in the Army. I’d tell my Soldiers that we have the most powerful, bad-ass, hunter-killers ever assembled in our combat arms. The problem is they are afraid of the dark. Our job, as intelligence professionals, is to illuminate the battlefield. Each of them was a flashlight.

    Specifically identify when, how, where, and what language do I use when giving in to Resistance. Thanks Steve for bringing this around to where we can use the attributes of the Warrior Archetype for the light. A buddy of mine, USMA grad, former Ranger, said, “Brian, I want to create an Army of White Warriors”. I like that metaphor as well.

  3. Andrew+Lubin on February 1, 2021 at 10:07 am

    So if the enemy is us, then we as a species haven’t gone far in 6,000 years; that’s not good. Putting children in cages; driving while black, the Jan 6 coup attempt, the Myanmar coup last night, Krystellnacht, are examples of aberrant behavior or the norm?

    This isn’t resistance; this is a lack of humanity. Overcoming resistance to write a book is a laudable achievement; participating in Krystellnacht, the Jan 6 coup attempt, or Myanmar was an assault on a properly elected government.

    No wonder Telamon decided to follow the Sages; it seems the civilization for which he fought wasn’t so civilized after all. And are we much better 2,500 years later?

    Joe-Brian-others: your thoughts? Or have I read too much into the post?

    • Brian Nelson on February 1, 2021 at 12:48 pm

      I don’t think you’re overthinking it, but I do think you might be focusing too much on the negative. We, as a species, have also ended so much suffering with modern medicine, modern agriculture, modern economics, modern warfare.

      I think it was in ILE (intermediate level education)–formerly known as Command and General Staff College–we studied Von Clausewitz, Napoleonic Wars, as well as other historic warfare means/battles.

      I had no idea how devastatingly BRUTAL war was in the 19th century. It is estimated that 25,000 men were killed at Waterloo. 3,100 dead, 23,000 union casualties & 28,000 Confederate casualties at Gettysburg.

      We are aiming at a very narrow target. Humanity is slowly, fitfully fighting its way towards a more enlightened perspective.

      I think violence towards another is the outward expression of inner hatred. Remember when a parent/coach/teacher/adult told us that when we point a finger, three fingers were pointing back at ourselves?

      This, I believe, is what Steve meant a couple of weeks back about the 6 Jan riots & Resistance.

      One other example. About 8 years ago, Kelly and I decided to lose weight. Neither of us could have been categorized as obese at the time–but we were carrying an extra 10-20lbs.

      It was the first time I actually tried to control, sit with, and not give into hunger. HOLY SHIT IT WAS HARD!!!! I swear to God that fast food signs grew to about 500 ft, then bent over and dangled right in front of my face when driving by. If I didn’t have some boiled eggs in the car, I would have caved.

      Anyway, one day–probably about 4 weeks into this restricted caloric experience, I walk by this REALLY big guy at the YMCA. I’d seen him there, nearly every day, for the past 8-10 years. In my head, I’m ashamed to admit, I’d judge him as a total fat-body.

      This day was different. As I walked up the stairs and saw him–I finally got it. This shit is HARD. He was/is so much more courageous than I am. He continued to show up to a place in which fitness is the primary marker and tried every single damn day. As I passed him, my eyes filled with tears. Tears for the hatred and intolerance I had been quietly wishing upon him for years. Tears for the callousness of my own heart. It was like I FINALLY understood the battle her was fighting, and my heart opened to him.

      Maybe this isn’t the best example, but I think it is close. It was using the Warrior Archetypal strengths to battle my own demons–and ironically, it made me more open, compassionate, considerate, forgiving to others.

      • Andrew lubin on February 1, 2021 at 1:16 pm

        Brian; you’re correct; it’s easy to get caught up in the negatives. Your positives made society better; and in very meaningful ways.

        Your example of the overweight guy was awesome; thank you for sharing! It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own stereotypes and perceptions while he deserves huge credit for his dedication for sticking to a goal of his own.

  4. Scott Mitchell on February 1, 2021 at 11:02 am

    Brian – Your comment above really hit home, about how Resistance comes to us as something we love, something that is eminently appealing. I went back over last week’s Resistance temptations, and they all fit that bill. How diabolically clever of Resistance!

    • Brian Nelson on February 1, 2021 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks Scott. I appreciate it. It is so damn deceptive! If you haven’t ever listened to JBP’s “Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories”, I highly encourage it. It is totally secular, but deeply profound & brilliant. They gave me so much more respect for our ancient myths, and how ancient man was desperately trying to figure out how to optimally live.

      He doesn’t dismiss the mystical, simply stays in his lane as a social scientist.

      It is rewarding to read that someone gets something from my musings! Have a great week.

  5. Joe on February 1, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    I’m going to jump in, stomp and splash happily in the puddle for a bit, and then go meet my wife to do yoga. (And a PSA: Don’t buy Adriene’s sweet little “girl-next-door-yoga-instructor” schtick. She’s a pony-tailed drill instructor!)

    I like what Charles Eisenstein has to say about “The Story of Separation.” How many of our insults to other people; to land, air and water; insults to ourselves — is that we’re misguided by this illusion of separation, that he talks about like this:

    “The Story of Separation essentially says that you are is a separate individual among other separate individuals in this objective reality that has fundamentally nothing to do with you.

    So psychology might say, “Well, yeah, essentially what you are is a mind enclosed in a body.”

    Religion would say that you are a soul encased in flesh.

    Biology would say that you are basically a meat machine programmed by your genes to maximize reproductive self-interest.

    Economics says something quite similar, that we are all driven to maximize rational self-interest.

    So here we are, these kinds of bubbles of psychology bouncing around the world, in competition, fundamentally, with other individuals.

    So an underlying tendency in the story of separation is the will to control, the will to dominate. It’s kind of baked into the cake. It’s not because, like, we are bad and we’re dominators. It’s because of the story that we live in. If you see the world as composed of separate competing others and if you see nature as this random melee of force and mass, then of course you’re going to want to dominate, of course you’re going to want to control.

    “I use the word ‘Interbeing,’ which I am told was coined by Thicht Nhat Han. It means more than Interconnection or Interdependency, which kind of suggests separate selves ‘having’ relationships. Interbeing is more of an understanding that we ARE relationships, that my very existence depends or draws from or includes your existence. So my well-being is intimately connected to your well-being or to the well-being of the river, the ocean, the forest, people across the world, and so forth, because I am not really separate from you. And that means that, in the story of Interbeing, I know that whatever I do to the world will come back to me, somehow.”


    Sorry if I was lazy today and not making more of my own words.

    • Brian Nelson on February 1, 2021 at 4:27 pm

      Joe bringing the heavy brain in today! My first thought was a Pulp Fiction quote, “Look at the big brain on Joe!”

      Nicely put. I like interbeing. Had to re-type is because the WordPress AI didn’t like the spelling.

      Reminds me of what I got from Arbinger’s ‘Outward Mindset” stuff. It is based on the work of Martin Buber, early 20th Century philosopher. His work is called I/Thou relationship vs the I/It relationship. I haven’t read his stuff, only what was mentioned in Arbinger’s stuff–but it aligns with the Interbeing.

      Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Buber believed that Rene missed the point by focusing on the ‘I’ as the most important point of reference. What he might have responded to Mr Descartes would be something like, “Rene, good thinking. However, who taught you the French so that you could have such a pristine thought?”

      Buber points out that the relationship is truly the point of reference. It is the relationship between selves that we need to focus. We either see people as people (I/Thou), or as things (I/It). From this misaligned focus, most of our problems arise.

      At the time, I was trying to put this into my Soldier thinking. If I had the thought, “I need a couple of NCOs and a few Soldiers to complete this task.”–I’m in I/It mode.

      If I think, “Maybe I should talk with Joe and Andrew, see what their thoughts are about this project/errand/task, and ask them for their help.” In that case I’m in I/Thou.

      When we move even further out like you mentioned, to recognize our relationship with the trees, the air, the oceans–that is, IMHO, Nirvana or Heaven on Earth. It is difficult to dismiss the material world when it is so freaking REAL, and stubbing your toe HURTS. And, when I hurt, I lash out…even at a coffee table!

      • Joe on February 2, 2021 at 7:20 am

        “That IS a tasty burger. Allow me to retort.”

  6. Karl Hunter on February 3, 2021 at 6:10 am

    Absolutely brilliant series. A real journey of self discovery and the internal battles we all face. Our physical self is often at odds with our higher self, but to paraphrase something I was once told, ‘when you (physical self) and you (higher self) come together as one, there is nothing you cannot accomplish.

  7. Lorinda on February 3, 2021 at 10:22 am

    Thanks, Steven! “The essence” of the whole series was expressed in this episode. Thank you for your take on political polemics, too; I think you have a really important perspective.

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