Times Call for Warrior-Healers

Needed to fight for justice and against injustice

By Roberto Rodriguez
Published on LatinoLA: August 26, 2003

Times Call for Warrior-Healers

In society, a warrior is the person charged with the defense of a people, community or nation. A warrior prevents harm from visiting a nation's shores. A healer is a person who soothes, who fixes, who makes human beings, communities and nations whole. A healer brings peace and tranquillity to the world.

In a troubled world and an era of diminishing freedoms (the Bush administration admits this, but claims it's just temporary), these times call for not simply more warriors and healers, but warrior-healers. They're needed to fight for justice and against injustice, and to ensure that Big Brother doesn't become entrenched as a part of Americana.

Gandhi was perhaps the greatest 20th-century example of a warrior-healer -- someone who effectively fought the greatest colonial power on Earth through non-violence. Martin Luther King Jr. and human rights leaders Dolores Huerta and the late Cesar Chavez are in the same category. There are actually many warrior-healers, but they are rarely recognized by a society that's more interested in the lives of sensationalism, contrived survivors and self-absorbed celebrities.

Communities of color, in particular, produce plenty of warriors, many of whom are off fighting overseas, and still many others who are being warehoused in prisons nationwide. Of those overseas, many are there because they want to be. Yet many are there because of a lack of choices. And of those in prison, many are there because of bad legal representation, but also because many have warred against their own. Many have left rivers of blood that snake through most U.S. barrios, reservations and ghettos.

Under the radar, these communities are also producing healers, being trained in the ancient arts and sciences of healing and traditional foods and medicines. This is beginning to give way to a newfound respect and appreciation for the knowledge and wisdom of elders. Many of these healers work with warriors to help redirect their energies -- to help build a community. Yet a systematic effort to create warrior-healers doesn't exist.

To be sure, a warrior-healer isn't someone who stops fighting to become a healer. No. Warrior-healers are needed to remain as warriors, but with the ethos of learning what it means to heal and make communities whole. Part of this includes learning to question, which is itself very humanizing.

Characteristics of a warrior-healer:

-- Respects elders, treats men and women with equal respect, and always values the opinions of the young.

-- Does not subscribe to beliefs in racial, cultural or ideological extremism or purity. Believes all human beings were created equal and treats them accordingly.

-- Upholds the belief in the sacredness and connectedness of all life, even (and especially) when fighting.

-- Never acts pompously. Does not act as though he or she knows more than everyone else. Is a good listener and always learns from others.

-- Does not buckle under pressure in the face of threats, always accepts the consequences for stepping forward and never puts others in harm's way.

-- Questions everything, does not act mindlessly and always has a dialogue with his or her heart.

-- Believes in something. Does not simply fight against something, and believes that every heart and mind is winnable.

-- Is not motivated by hate. Understands his or her role in relationship to creation. Creates. Does not simply react.

-- Does not succumb to or engage in the tactics of divide and conquer, or scapegoating, nor resorts to the use of guilt to win over allies.

-- Does not subscribe to extremist ideologies. Does not hold intransigent views and does not treat friends like enemies because of mere disagreements.

-- Fights always for what's in the best interest of humanity, ahead of any blind loyalty.

-- Fights to rehumanize society. Points people in that direction, but ultimately knows that everyone must find his or her own path.

As Gandhi noted, warrior-healers cannot become that which they're fighting against: They need to become that which they desire now. Peace, respect, truth, justice and equality begin today, not after a recall, an election, an impeachment or the building of a new world.


About Roberto Rodriguez:
Rodriguez can be reached at

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