In Sheila Walsh’s Will, God’s Mighty Warrior, there’s a scene where Will and his buddy Josh are pretending to be on a quest against monstrous beasts. They run into Will’s large English sheepdog. Josh is starting to defend himself, but Will assures his friend that “I have tamed this wild creature, and now use it to serve me.”
One of the hot trends in education these days is Mastery Learning: students are expected to master a concept before they move on, not just fill their seats until the class moves on. It is similar to Ranks in the Boy Scouts of America, where you need a certain number and type of accomplishments to move from Tenderfoot up through Eagle.
So what is the analogue in Knight Club? What are we mastering?
I think there are three dragons we face as men:
- The Red Dragon of Anger
- The Green Dragon of Fear
- The Gold Dragon of Desire
Women probably face these too. But when men fail in these areas, the results are devastating.
In Knight Club, we do not slay dragons. Like Will, we “tame them so they serve us.”
Think about it. I don’t want men who lack fear, anger, or desire. And I certainly don’t want men who are overwhelmed by any of them!
But imagine what we could with a legion of men who know how to ride their anger, fear, and desire like men ride a horse (or a dragon!)?
Fear-mastery is Courage on the one side and Reverence on the other. We need to not fear the wrong things but must have a healthy fear of the right things.
Desire-mastery is similarly Contentment (vs wanting too much) and Hope (vs settling for too little).
But what about Anger-mastery? Do we have any words that specifically describe the virtue(s) of guarding against too little (or even too much) anger?
The only one I can think of is very well-known yet almost never used: “meekness”, denoting controlled strength, though often confused with “weakness.”
Figuring out the right way to frame anger-mastery is tricky, but vital. Out-of-control anger from men is the most terrifying thing on earth, whether from toddlers or terrorists.
Yet I would argue that insufficient anger from men is even more devastating. Where can I go to find men filled with anger against poverty, disease, and brutality who are fighting to save the world? Wonderful people do those things out of duty and compassion, but imagine how fast we’d move if we could fully exploit the power of anger.
Of course, we could easily move in the wrong direction. That is why anger has be mastered, like harnessing a dragon to a millstone. And maybe these three masteries aren’t enough, and there are other essential virtues (like Wisdom) needed to complete the mix.
But if you can think of a word to describe the virtue of “being angry the right amount at the right things,” it would sure help me figure out how to cultivate it. Thanks.
Update: How about the combination of “meek” (not too angry) and “protective” (angry when important)?