28 day xena: warrior princess challenge, day 9: in which I discuss violence vs nonviolence …

I know I’m late, I’m sorry! Apparently, my body really needed rest last night because I fell asleep pretty early in the evening and just … kept on going? But anyway, damn, this is a pretty heavy topic for the beginning of the month, but I supposed I have no one else to blame for this but myself. Which … actually is a pretty good lead-in to what I was planning on talking about today.

Xena is who she is for various reasons – Caesar, warlords attacking her home, Ares, etc. – but her entire identity is that of her choosing. She chose brutality after Caesar betrayed her; she chose to abandon Lao Ma’s teachings in order to exact revenge; she chose to abandon her ruthlessness and focus on redemption, an act that ultimately leads her to Gabrielle, undoubtedly her greatest influence. On the other hand, Gabrielle does choose to follow Xena instead of staying in Poteidaia to marry Perdicus, but for the majority of the show, Gabrielle just kind of falls into violence, which I suppose is more of a reflection on the world than it is on her. Even when she loses her blood innocence, it’s not entirely her fault … although she does blame herself because she’s Gabrielle and her adherence to black-and-white morality in the earlier seasons is both one of my favorite and least favorite things about her. Luckily, she realizes that the world might need her to do more than just hit people with a big stick if she wants to make the world a better place.

Now, I’m definitely more of a pacifist. When I was younger, I was quick to respond to things with some type of violence, be it physical, verbal, or otherwise, and I have made a concerted effort to abstain from doing that. I’m not always super great about it – I am known for my sharp tongue – and eventually, I hope to be as Zen as Keanu Reeves is about conflict, but for now, I will forgive myself if I slip up a bit. And part of me even wonders if doing that is necessary. If you look at the world today, how would I respond if some white supremacist jackass was coming after one of my friends? Would I just stand there and say, “I’m a pacifist, sorry? I’ll say nice words about you at your funeral, though!” I struggle with this daily. Would I actually punch a Nazi if the chance presented itself? Would I stand up for someone, with a willingness to possibly harm the person attacking them? I honestly don’t know. It’s not that I think I have the martial skills of Xena and Gabrielle – the ex did say I have a good fighting stance, but I don’t believe much of what he says nowadays – but I’d like to think I’d put myself in harm’s way if it meant protecting someone else.

I used to think that Gabrielle was a hypocrite for leaving Eli’s peaceful ways, and I do still hold a tremendous respect for people who refute all violence. It is admirable. But how practical is it? Will there ever be an existence where violence isn’t even on the table because we’ve risen above it? I think if we, like Gabrielle, do our best to extend a hand and only resort to our basest tendencies when there are literally no other options, we can get closer. But that’s not easy, is it? And it certainly isn’t quick.

Nothing worth having is.

Art Credit: Varese Sarabande

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