The title of this article in no way suggests actual war or violence of any kind. No – instead it is meant in a metaphorical sense, and it posits that if men want peace, health, and happiness in their lives, then they must develop robust strategies that will defend and protect their personal boundaries, as well as their mental, physical and emotional health.
The quote “If you want peace; prepare for war” is originally Latin and comes from a book called — “Epitoma Rei Militaris” by the Roman general Vegetius. And while Vegetius originally spoke these words in relation to the Roman army, they hold a message that is quite applicable to present-day living; especially for men.
Why Men Need to Choose to Be Strong
In fact, this quote is actually very in line with Jordan Peterson’s view on the need for men to have the personal strength and guard themselves against “weakness”. Peterson’s comments on this issue were taken out of context and criticised by some who attacked him for appearing to advise men “not to be weak”.
However, if you watch the interview segment in question, Peterson eloquently explains that what he means is that it’s essential for men to defend their own boundaries and protect themselves from harm and abuse in life as this can lead to hurt, bitterness and resentment; all of which can result in the development of a dangerous person with cruel intentions.
Peterson was basically advising men that from his knowledge and work as a Clinical Psychologist, he understands more than most how important it is to look after our own needs first and that having weak boundaries can leave men open to being taken advantage of or suffering abuse of some kind which can ultimately have detrimental effects for emotional, mental, and physical health.
The Roman Empire Learned This Lesson Too Late
Before the downfall of The Roman Empire, according to Vegetius, the quality of its army had deteriorated. In Vegetius’ view, a relatively long spell of peace had led to the army becoming complacent, with no threat or impending war they had slacked on training, lost strength, stopped patrolling their boundaries and didn’t wear their armor a lot of the time.
Vegetius felt that this left the Romans vulnerable to attack as it made it easier for others to take advantage of their lax defense systems and invade their boundaries, which ultimately resulted in the downfall of the Roman Empire, as the army was no longer prepared, trained or holding their lines of defense as they had done in the past.
If during peaceful times, a country’s army is robust, strong, well-trained, and ready for action, then this in itself can act as a deterrent to anyone considering “overstepping the mark”.
And it’s exactly the same for men in life.
If we hold firm boundaries and assert our needs and expectations well, people are less likely to infringe upon them. For example, if we are always saying yes to extra tasks at work that we don’t really have the time or capacity for, because we don’t want to “let anyone down”, then we are not holding firm boundaries and your boss and colleagues are more likely to slide extra work your way.
The same goes for your personal boundaries with your family and loved ones; for example, if you find yourself always left with extra childcare duties or the only one running errands for your elderly relatives when there are others around who can clearly equally help out; then you need to strengthen your boundaries and assert what you will and will not accept.
Many could argue that this phrase seems quite contradictory; if you want to live a peaceful life, why on earth are you going to prepare for war?
But what the phrase infers in a broader context is that by protecting and maintaining our own boundaries, we prevent others from overwhelming us, invading our space, or depleting our own energy reserves and resources. And this is something that we must be intentional about, and we must prepare to protect our peace by preparing to defend our personal and professional borders, just as a soldier would.
It takes a conscious effort; it takes work, and it takes the ability to Say No to overbearing demands that we simply just don’t have the capacity for.
Having weak boundaries can lead to us becoming exhausted, drained, and burnt out, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Therefore, it’s important for men to defend their boundaries as if their life depends upon it; because it literally does.
So, as a man – do yourself and everyone in your life a favor, and look after yourself, say no to demands that you simply can’t fulfill whether it’s at work, at home, to do with family or social occasions, and do so guilt-free and be confident that holding these boundaries is for the greater good of yourself, your wellbeing and the wellbeing of everyone who depends upon you in any way whatsoever.
Remember – The Job, The Party, The Family Occasion – none of it is worth your mental, emotional, or physical health. Choose YOU!
“If something is costing you your peace; it’s too high a price to pay” unknown
- men-war: Martijn Hendrikx via Unsplash