We live in a curious time. While the west has been at war for nearly two decades, most men still live in comfortable homes with few things lacking. And fewer have seen hardship...the sort of hardship that changes one's world view. And so they move through their lives inhabiting grown men's bodies, but with the emotions and mental toughness of kids. Toughness is something one builds and develops, not something one is given at birth. And toughness builds an emotional maturity that allows a man to control his emotions. We all have breaking points, but the breaking point of a tough man is farther down the road.
Hemingway was once asked in a long ago magazine article to describe toughness or "guts". He said it was grace under pressure.
Kipling wrote about it as well (and it is a sad and unfortunate thing that so few will have ever read either of these men)
"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you"
In recent discussions I was astounded at the emotional responses by grown men who would cast away all to respond in a reckless manner to something presented. And yes, I think that they would do exactly as they wrote they would. I will add one very important attribute to the Gentleman Gunfighter (if you are not a gentleman and do not wish that status...please don't bother reading as I have nothing of value for you at all). That attribute is the term "Grace Under Pressure". It refers to coolness (a term Cooper preferred), emotional control, and analytical thought driving actions rather than emotions commanding your reactions. It can be done.
We have seen it done at a military funeral as a Master Sergeant calls out the name of the fallen brother at the last roll call with poise and self control while every fiber of his being is seething with rage and anger.
We have seen it done in a fight as the good guy winner looms over the fallen attacker in readiness but withholds the final blow as unnecessary.
We have seen it done in the face of the driver in a high speed pursuit driving on the very edge of death.
We have seen it in the muted smile of the officer waiting outside for the exit of men who will assuredly do their best to kill him.
A brute has no emotional control, and at any provocation jumps about like a baboon whose banana was taken away. America is becoming a nation of uncontrolled, immature, brutes who have no self-control, and driven by fear that their banana will be taken.
Don't be a brute. Brutes cannot do anything but mirror the baboon. Do not feed your inner baboon.
Instead, decide today that you are not that brute, but rather a gentleman...albeit a deadly and dangerous one, but a gentleman nevertheless. A renaissance warrior who is educated and embodies the words in Kipling's poem.
And in the context of fighting, a man such as that will not only perform better and make better decisions under pressure, but will be listened to when he tells his story. Decide today who you want to be. America has plenty of baboons...be the gentleman warrior instead.