Western martial arts are the most deadly in the world. And we are their foremost practitioners.
We ride to battle every day, clothed in armour made of wool and silk, transported by a legion of machines which wind their way through the largest and noisiest cities the world has ever seen.
Whilst we hold the lives of thousands in our hands, we feel neither fear nor remorse. Mostly we feel bored by the monotony of the decisions we make. The dance has been going on for as long as we can remember and we cannot imagine an end.
Our minds are focused on our craft at all times and we overhaul every aspect of our lives to give us an edge over our opponents. We utilise mysterious potions, stringent training regimes and strange rituals — we desire nothing more than to think sharper, react faster; all without sleeping or ceasing from our striving.
And why do we do this? The rewards promised are plentiful. Our choice of house and spouse, the highest fashion, the finest cuisine and even immortality are held aloft as what we will receive if we continue to follow the true path.
But I do not think that is the whole reason. Certainly, at times, the thought of a job, promotion or bonus can drive us to new heights; the rush pushing us to break boundaries we might otherwise hold sacred, but that does not explain our behaviour the rest of the time. These emotions cannot by themselves explain the creation of a class of cold blooded terminators, who do not feel pity, or remorse, or fear and do not stop until they fall.
Think back to when we started. We were precocious and irreverent, desiring to understand who we were and how we related to the world. We surprised ourselves, discovered that when we put our mind to it we could shift the world, if only a little.
We began to go further and further, chasing accolades and dreams, not stopping to ask where those dreams came from or where they were taking us. We barely paused when we hit a fork in the road. We lost our job, were hit by unexpected debt, we were caught by surprise.
We were seduced by someone we admired or someone we hated. Either way, we respected them. And they were impressed with us, or so they said. They liked what we had done, what we had managed to achieve. So they asked us if we’d like to see what we could do with the resources of one of the world’s most powerful corporations behind us.
That was when the music started. Through sheer determination we had turned ourselves into lethal killing machines, finely tuned engines dedicated to the reification of our visions. We became lean, through choice and necessity, and if the noise ever paused long enough for us to question where we were heading; it quickly started again with a louder, more intense tune.
If this is freedom, why does it look so much like a cage? Do you run with the pack because it is where you belong, or because the first one to fall behind will be torn to shreds? Could it be that having climbed to the top, you are too afraid to jump off?
May I suggest that if you want to know of the world outside this jungle, you must seek out a signal that originates from outside of its borders? Our modern day prophets can only tell of the current war, for it is all they have ever known, but there are sources of truth out there. One of these is a God that was known in the ages before this one, yet has not changed and calls us to a different life.
To take a step back from the frontlines of the war for profit is terrifying. And if you do, I cannot promise you will return. But our God offers us something more than the laser focused acquisition of capital. He offers us our humanity. He offers us joy. And if you think back to when this all began, you may realise that that is all you ever wanted.