One Man Army

I've been watching a cool show on the Discovery Channel called One Man Army. It's a reality game show where military operatives, law enforcement and others compete in a series of tests on speed, strength and intelligence. Tests can include breaking through 5 walls with a sledgehammer, unlocking 5 safes and assembling their contents into a 9mm handgun while hanging upside down, sawing your way out of a locked underwater tank or breaking out of a prison cell. The winner gets a cash prize and the title "One Man Army."

Now in modern society, the specialist reigns supreme. You don't have to be a generalist, a one man army, in order to survive or to be successful. You can specialize in a specific skill set and as long as your skill set is in high demand, you can make a living off of it. But when civilization collapses and the zombie apocalypse arrives, the generalist, the one man army will reign supreme.

What's better than a one man army? A two man army, of course, provided that both men are competent, intelligent and work well as a team. What's better than a two man army?

Well, you get the picture. The bottom line is that teams tend to do better than individuals, provided that everyone in the group is on the same page. The larger the tribe, the more manpower you have. But if the members of your tribe don't have the will to fight, then you don't have much of an army.

When I was a kid I used to read a lot of comics and I used to watch a lot of martial arts movies. If you're Batman, Superman or Bruce Lee, then you literally are a one man army, capable of defeating many men.

These two genres (comics and martial arts movies) had a very profound effect on me, because the themes of revenge and justice pop up frequently. Given that I grew up bearing the brunt of a lot of Sinophobic racism, these themes appealed to me. The X-men saga, for instance, is a metaphor and a veiled commentary on racial and ethnic persecution. Class struggles and racial injustices were prevalent themes in a lot of the kung fu movies of the 70's.

There was one thing though that really frustrated me about martial arts movies. They always had stories where the townspeople or small business owners or the Chinese were being oppressed by a small group of thugs, racists or corrupt government officials. It wasn't the story lines that I found frustrating, but the idea that the oppressed, despite having greater numbers, weren't willing to unite and fight. They always relied on the protagonist, the one man army, to save them.

I think this occurs a lot in real life. Most people don't want to fight. They don't want to be the one to stand out and get hammered down. And yet this fear of acting, this fear of doing the right thing, is what paralyzes the masses. I've met plenty of people who bitch about getting a raw deal, but I haven't run into many people who stand up and take action.

What's better than a one man army. An army of many willing to fight.

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