Would it help to confuse it if we run away more?

I have a well-developed, if not over-active, instinct for self-preservation. That being said, I find that I have an admiration of the gallant sacrifice, the hopeless defiance of impossible odds. I find it disquieting that I find nobility in rushing to one's certain doom.

This surfaced most recently during my viewing of The Last Samurai. Being the story of the end of feudalism in Japan, and with it the traditional way of the samurai, the film depicts a fair share of noble (and stoic, of course) sacrifice. Both times that I have watched the film I have been quite moved by those scenes.

I find this disquieting because I believe that life is a precious commodity not to be given up lightly. I oppose the taking of life unnecessarily, including one's own. The intelligent course of action is, of course, to run away. (Also known as “strategic withdrawal”.) Discretion is the better part of valor, fight again another day, and all that.

My mother's family is from the South. (Okay, some of them come from the southern end of the Midwest, but culturally they are all Southerners.) I was raised that the Gray was the righteous side in the War of Northern Aggression. The Yankees share the nadir of the pantheon with the English.

Given all this I suppose it is unsurprising that I can not help but find Pickett's Charge gallant. Pickett's Charge seems to be the very antithesis of self-preservation. Those brave souls marched in plain sight across an open field into the very center of the opposition's defense. Even after getting flanked on both sides they pressed on. They even breached the first line of defense before being driven back. Incomprehensible.

Maybe I am overanalyzing this. But I worry that I have a hidden weakness for self-sacrifice that will manifest at some really inconvenient time.

Or, worse yet, that can be used against me by my nemeses.


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