If black men acknowledge that the pattern of police misconduct they have experienced and witnessed over the course of their lifetimes, and the lifetimes of their forefathers, evidence a mixed war, then it makes sense for them to think and behave like soldiers.
To do this they must become military-minded – as military-minded as their law enforcement nemesis. If the non-violent path to peace fails, there is always the option to fight power with power.
Before becoming president, Donald Trump made a fortune in business and wrote a book entitled The Art of the Deal. In it he wrote: “If someone screws you, screw them back.” Trump’s crude advice translated and applied to the subject matter of this text, if the law enforcement system allows police to intentionally abuse you at will, to the point of bullying you into fights, you would be smart to find a way to defeat the bully.
In order to survive and prevail in a war, a soldier must see the world far differently than a civilian. So say soldiers and ex-soldiers who have shared their insights with me privately and indirectly through all manner of communications, including memoirs, documentaries, Hollywood movies and interviews.
The U.S. Army Survival Manual, published by the Department of the Army Field Manual, was written for public consumption. It teaches civilians how to adopt the thinking of soldiers. The manual states that “No one knows survival better than the U.S. Army, so this exceptional guide is the most authorative of its kind.” The manual “serve as a civilian’s best guide for toughing it … any place in the world.”
The survival guide includes this advice: “Two of the gravest dangers to survival are the desire for comfort and a passive outlook. You must recognize that these dangers represent attitudes—attitudes that follow lines of least resistance, that overrule your effort or desire to cope with stress, that make your primary concern the immediate situation rather than the overall problem …” Lacking the will to keep trying to solve a problem can result in a “passive outlook. Lethargy, mental numbness, and indifference creep in slowly, but they can suddenly take over and leave you helpless.”
Generally speaking, black men feel helpless when police order them to pull over on the side of the road or order them to stop and submit to a field interview. The popular protest slogan, “Hands up don’t shoot” shows the world how helpless they are in the face of excessive law enforcement. It shows that they are not thinking like soldiers at war, with skills and resources to defend themselves and fight back. Being unaware that they possess hidden self-defense skills and resources, their lack of knowledge fools them into giving up. The average man who does not think he can win a fight, will not fight.
Men who develop a warrior’s mindset are able to apply it to all areas of their life.
Washington Post reporter David Halberstam interviewed a soldier named William DeFosset, “of the 369th Regiment, which went to the Pacific in World War II.” The veteran told Halberstam that the benefits of military mindedness expanded throughout all areas of his life – keeping him on point in his intimate relationships, finances, work and avocational pursuits. “My military career gave me the ability to search out a problem … It taught me how to plan, how to examine things, when to improve upon them. It taught me about teamwork, physical fitness—pride.”