peace warrior

You do not need to be born a certain way to be able to show strength. You do not need to be a specific person to be able to conquer challenges. You have everything that you need with in you, right at this very moment, regardless of who you are.
—  Nicole Addison @thepowerwithin
When the “Symbol of Peace” is a Warrior

Remember that time Gandhi punched a man into the stratosphere? Or when Nelson Mandela dropped the atom bomb? While such events might make for a good game of Civilization VI, the societal and cultural implications would be rather bleak.

That’s the world of Boku no Hero Academia. A world where peace is assured, not by treaties and accords, but by the threat of overwhelming force. The threat of All Might bearing down upon you with all his might.

The surface level problem with this arrangement is not so much an issue for the majority of law-abiding citizens. At least, it wouldn’t be if not for the way this society pushes people toward villainy (which I wrote about here).

The deeper issue here, is the idolization of violence.

Pictured above are 4 of the top 10 ranked heroes in Japan. There are 2 others, but they don’t support my claim, and the remaining 4 are unknown.

All Might - OFA: punches so hard the sheer pressure changes the weather
Endeavour - Hell Flame: kills it with fire
Ryukyu - Dragon Form: claws, fangs, probably eats livestock whole
Edgeshot - Foldabody: makes body thin as a razor, punches at speed of sound

Ignore the Shigarakis and All For Ones of the world, they are few and far between. Consider the more innocuous criminal, like a shoplifter. What strategies would any of these heroes employ in that case? Step 1, offer chance to surrender. Step 2, murder? These heroes do not have a non-lethal option.

And that’s a real problem. Not just for these heroes, but for the society that elevated them to the top 10, rankings which account for popularity more than anything else. 

Every child dreams of being All Might. Everyone looks up to this incredible powerhouse. The term “Hero” was meant to mean “one who saves others,” but has twisted to mean only “one who fights villains.” This perverse understanding of what makes a hero pervades society at an institutional level.

Take it from Aizawa, the UA entrance exam is illogical and harmful, stemming from society’s fascination with brute strength. To get in to the UA Hero course, you need a combat-capable quirk. This system precludes people like Shinso or Aizawa from gaining admission, people who posses some of the greatest and most useful quirks any hero could ask for.

But the exam never asks, “What’s your true potential?” It begs but two simple questions, “How many villains can you beat up? How many people can you save (from villains)?” And the results end up looking like this:

That’s right, Lord Explosion Murder is the star of this year’s class. Bakugou’s quirk and personality are only useful for trying to kill things. Maybe he just needs a better role model. Who does he look up to? Oh, right, it’s All Might.

All Might is a defacto demi-god of this world. Outside of villainous circles, you won’t find anyone who doesn’t idolize him. But what good is that idolization? If someone like Bakugou genuinely believes himself to be following in All Might’s footsteps. 

Well, maybe this is an isolated problem. All Might is UA’s celebrity alumni, of course they’ll try to keep up that image. But the other hero schools can’t all be like that, and the hero licensing program is bound to be–

Oh, nope. It’s all violence, all the time. Neat.

Granted, the provisional license exam does have a rescue phase, but almost everyone passed that. The part intended to cull 95% of the applicants is combat-based. Are there even enough villains in the world to justify being this focused on combat?

As tragic as it is, the elevation of violent heroes is only half the problem,

Because this is a zero-sum scenario: if brutality rises to the top, then utility is pushed to the bottom. 

Non-violent heroes simply do not have a clear path to success. I’m using Shinso as an example again, because there are so few like him that manage to rise to the point of being mentioned in the story. The realm of heroism is all but institutionally sealed off for them. 

Society wants heroes who fight villains. That is what their purpose has become. And anyone who can’t conform to that mold gets pushed out. Maybe Stain was on to something; heroes have deviated from their original purpose, they now exist only for the spectacle of the fight.

All Might’s position as the Symbol of Peace does not extol heroism, but rather violence in heroism’s name.

#transformationtuesday and about 25 pounds heavier now (right) then before (left).I know it may not seem like a big difference to some people, but to me it’s more than a physical change it’s a mental change as well. I no longer feel the need to step on the scale everyday and wish for the number to go down. I’m not scared of weight gain anymore or am I afraid to eat or drink water. I no longer cry myself to sleep every night wishing I was someone els. I don’t snap at my loved ones or am I constantly angry at myself and the word. I don’t think about food all the time or if my hand fits around my waist and thighs. Yes I’m a bit softer now, but I’m enjoying what life has to offer! I have gained confidence and the ability to love myself no matter what I look like. Recovery is so hard and it comes with many obstacles, but the feeling of conquering your fears is amazing and it makes us stronger💪🏻

No one knows what you have been through or what your pretty little eyes have seen, but I can reassure you ~ whatever you have conquered, it shines through your mind.
—  Nikki Rowe
I had lost my mind and fallen into my heart.
—  Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior

Four years ago today, America lost a great warrior and hero. RIP Chris Kyle. You will never be forgotten! 2.2.13
“It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I’m not naive, and I don’t romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job.”
-Chris Kyle