This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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The conscience is not deadened but sharpened

In a situation of moral ambiguity, how does the conscious speak? And in the situation of the warrior, how does he listen? Given the complexity of his situation, is he to ignore the voice of conscience, to numb it in some way so that its voice is not heard in the moment, and so that he cannot hear the inner call to perfection?

On the contrary, it is all the more necessary that the conscience, in these individuals, be strengthened and that it speak with utmost clarity, since in these desperate hours the conscience speak through the chaos and over the noise of the battle and in spite of the ambiguity of the context.

By walking the treacherous path between mandatory imperfection and avoidable violence the warrior, like the king or judge or policeman, blazes a new path each day. There is no set of easy precepts written down for him indicating exactly how he can cope with each situation he faces.

Theorists and critics tend to speak from the point of view of theory and pronounce on the ‘excessive use of force’ seen on television, where a police officer shot and killed a person who in hindsight might not have actually been a threat.  This is a sad situation and everything possible must be done to prevent it, but the problem in the criticism is that the critics are speaking in hindsight, and from the point of view of mental reflection. They speak from the perspective of ideas, where things can be paused and replayed, but the police officer is immersed in time, where things happen in quick succession and there is no getting out of the way. Here things are not neatly divided into a clean sequence of events, but rather time proceeds without regard for the limits of human comprehension, and things happen too fast. It is a denial of the limits of the human condition to condemn men for not being omniscient.

Of course, we must admit that if there is a lack of preparation or an emotional imbalance in the individual (and this certainly must be common) that the critics are justified to an extent in calling for greater care in what kind of person is placed in these situations. But it would be easier to accept this criticism if the critics acknowledged the hard truth that when the situation deteriorates to the point that force is necessary, there is no desirable outcome. Too often the politicians and reporters pretend that a perfect outcome could and should have been realized, no matter how impossible the scenario.

We use these observations not to lighten the load placed on the shoulders of the warrior, but to highlight the gravity of things and also the necessity of a very thorough spiritual education, which is the only thing that can endow a person with a sense for justice and an instinct for appropriate limits so that when the moment comes, he is able to be decisive and forceful, but restrained, and without losing himself to the terror of the moment.

The warrior walks on shifting sands where each situation must be judged on the fly, and where he cannot afford to stop, regain his balance, and patiently contemplate an appropriate response. He cannot rely on reflection and mental processes to determine his course of action, but only on ‘training’ and too often his training is purely technical.

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