5 Choices That a Warrior Makes
Dave Eubank had come from a missionary family, but he didn’t feel called to be a missionary. Instead, he joined the military and eventually became an Army Ranger. Dave became a warrior.
After he left the military, though, he received a call. People in the country of Burma needed help — food, medicine, and other supplies.
He decided to help. He proposed to his girlfriend. Then he took a one-way trip to Burma with his new bride. He arrived with the supplies to a war-damaged jungle where people were dying.
“We’re here to help. Everything we have is yours.”
Dave stopped fighting and dedicated his entire life to help the people in Burma. At first, it was food and medicine. Over time he learned they needed more though.
Barely anyone in the world knew about how the people in Burma were struggling. So Dave started documenting their lives. He took video. He kept records. He sent pictures of the Burmese atrocities to the rest of the world. He began helping people and then training those people to do the same.
He created the Free Burma Rangers.
Dave was still a warrior, even if he wasn’t picking up a weapon. You don’t have to be in the military to be a warrior. You don’t have to pick up a gun or sword. You do need a certain mindset. There are challenges all around us. We need more warriors. Here are five choices that a warrior makes.
“The main difference between a warrior and an ordinary man is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge and an ordinary man takes everything as either a blessing or a curse.”
— Don Juan, in The Tales of Power, by Carlos Castenada
1. Keep the Fire Burning Even When No One Is Watching
When Dave Eubank left the Army, he sensed a purpose he could not ignore. No one he knew was paying attention to Burma. He just felt called to serve people who were hurting and dying.
He didn’t fear the loneliness of a new battle. His passion to serve forced him to continue as a new kind of soldier. No one was giving him orders or even watching over him, but he kept his internal fire burning, even when no one around was following him.
A warrior sees a battle and isn’t afraid to start fighting, even if no one is watching.
2. Accept Trophies With Gratitude But Don’t Be Afraid to Leave Them Behind
There is an old story about a Spartan warrior who won the equivalent of the modern-day Olympics. The warrior received an incredibly valuable trophy as his prize. It was nearly priceless, adorned with gold and jewels — a magnificent work of art that symbolized the champion’s victory.
The warrior graciously accepted the incredible trophy. It was an incredible symbol of his victory.
The day after the competition, the warrior sold the trophy. He wasn’t afraid to leave it behind. The trophy was an expression of how other people felt about this warrior’s achievement. But the warrior was focused on something else. There was another battle to fight.
A warrior accepts trophies with gratitude, but isn’t afraid to leave them behind.
3. Service over Self
The documentary Free Burma Rangers shows a real-life example of a warrior putting the lives of others above his own. In one scene, Dave Eubank and his team are rescuing families from destroyed buildings in the streets of a city overtaken by ISIS.
Dave and his team of Free Burma Rangers travel from building to building to find people hiding from ISIS. They pull new-born babies from holes in the wall. They rescue families and dozens of people who’ve been trapped for days. He and his team welcome children and families into a hall to give away food, medicine, and other items.
None of this is without risk. Gunshots are heard constantly, with bullets landing sometimes just meters away. Every team member wears a helmet and a protective vest and clothing. And when people — even children — are welcomed into the safe zones, hugs are given, which give hope and comfort but also allow brief checks for suicide bombs.
Each member of Dave’s team has put their mission of service and love above their own lives.
4. Fight battles you cannot win
A warrior will fight in a battle even if the battle cannot be won.
In the Akira Kurosawa movie The Seven Samurai, a young samurai begs an older samurai to be his disciple. The older samurai deflects the request. The older samurai says that he has never won a battle.
But there’s something more to the older warrior. If you’ve never seen the film, the older samurai assembles a group of seven to defend a village from bandits. The villagers, with the help of the samurai, eventually destroy the bandits and save the village. The villagers have won, and the last scene in the film shows the villagers singing and dancing in celebration.
While the villagers celebrate, the older samurai is outside the village. Seemingly, he has now won his first battle. He should be proud — excited even. But he’s quiet. Four of the seven samurai died during the battle. The shot I remember most in the film shows the three remaining samurai stare at four mounds at the top of the frame — the graves of the fallen samurai.
The older samurai reveals the truth. The victory belongs to the villagers — not to the samurai. As he looks at the four graves, we realize why he has never won a battle: there is no victory when he loses fellow warriors. He’s lost four of the seven men.
Even though the samurai had saved the villagers, they have won nothing. The older samurai is again on the losing side. It’s a somber realization that this great warrior continues to fight though he always loses. He fights battles for others, yet always suffers a loss.
A warrior knows that some battles must be fought, even if they cannot be won.
5. Enter the Battlefield, Even If Alone
A destroyed city, with remnants of destruction dominating the landscape. People are fleeing death, destruction, and hopelessness. Twenty four years of Dave Eubank and the Free Burma Rangers have led to one moment.
The cameras are on, like on all of the missions. A baby is lifted from a hole in the wall. There are dozens of people behind, hiding in the hole that’s barely bigger than a doggy-door.
Dave and his Rangers look across the main highway. It’s a dead zone. Anyone who crosses is shot immediately. Against a far wall on the other side of the highway, the team sees three living people among a line of bodies. More shots are fired.
Two living people. More shots.
One living person — a little girl.
Everyone is thinking the same thing. If you go near that little girl, you’re dead.
Taking a step across the highway — toward the girl — will likely cost you everything. There’s no time to waste. Every delay is a moment closer to a sniper taking the girl’s life. And maybe your own.
Dave had to try. He had to try to save the girl.
Every second counted. He strapped on his helmet. He put down anything that would slow him down.
“Whoever wants to go, go!” he said.
Then he started running. Across the highway. By himself. Dave had no idea who would follow him. But he had to go. He had to try to save the girl. Sometimes a warrior must enter the battlefield, even if alone.
The story is incredible, and serves as the first three minutes of the documentary. I couldn’t stop watching until the end.
The Choices of a Warrior
A warrior doesn’t need superhuman strength. A warrior doesn’t always fight with a gun or sword.
A warrior is made by his or her choices.
- Keep the fire burning even when no one is watching.
- Accept trophies with gratitude but don’t be afraid to leave them behind.
- Service over self.
- Fight battles you cannot win.
- Enter the battlefield, even if alone.
It’s not about the warrior. It’s about the battle — the cause. Even more, it’s about the one life that can be saved by the single choice of a warrior.