The Humanitarian Warrior Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization”. Those famous words couldn’t be anymore right about our modern day world. Wars, genocides, terrorist attacks, and so much more happen every day in life at every moment all across the world. Organizations like the Red Cross, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and United Nations Children's Fund have good intentions to aid people affected by these events, but is it enough? In Eric Greitens’ book The Heart and the Fist the author shares his own journey volunteering in various countries and organizations which led him to join the elite U.S. Navy Seal in effort to do his part. Through every country he visited he learned something about being a true humanitarian. He realized that true meaning behind humanitarianism doesn’t just need peace, but it has to be done with force. In the end, Greitens comes to term with all he’s learned in one simple belief. Greitens uses his life experiences to prove that humanitarian aid now is ineffective solution to the world’s problem. Simple aid can’t help people anymore, people need to stand up for the weak and they must be given the chance to advance more in life. In the book Greitens explains how he developed his belief about humanitarianism through a series of personal stories about how he became involved with international aid. An early experience that helped him mold is through boxing. His personal journey with boxing parallel with those of people in need of humanitarian aid. He draws these parallels to paint how people in need should be expected to stand on their own, and not be solely dependent on the aid provided.
In the beginning chapters of the “The Heart and the Fist” after Greitens returns from an unsuccessful trip abroad, he decides he wants to a change from his empty life of a Duke University student to..... Greitens firstly explains how he “might not have been able to change the world as a student,but [he] knew that [he] needed to live through something hard and real to become better” (Greitens 27). In comes the idea to start boxing to test himself, but it didn’t come easy. Greitens trains on his own for several days before he realizes he needs the help of someone else. Help comes in the form Derrick Humphrey, a seasoned boxer, and Earl, his trainer, who as the story goes on influences, Greitens approach and point of view on life.
Through a series of excises done in nothing but a run-down parking lot located on the bad side of town, Greitens comes to term with something while starting to box. Whether it was “ a gym, or the parking lot, or [a] patch of mud...any location where a man came to make themselves better” was a place to train at (Greitens 33). He realizes that people don’t need the best equipment or even a good environment do something great, all you need is yourself. There was no need for hi-tech gyms or even state of the art equipment. This is what is instilled in his mind once he goes though training with Earl and Derrick. These experiences taught him the importance of being humble, which allows someone to sympathize with those others more easily.
Another thing that Earl did to impact Greitens was to make him pay week after week regardless of what Greitens did because “paying for something [makes] a man appreciate it more” (Greitens 33). By doing this Earl not only shows, but teaches him the real value of life isn’t the material but rather the appreciation one has for what they have. Greitens was satisfied with what little he was paying for training and more than willing to pay every week.
The last most important value taught by Earl is to be stronger you have to work hard. Greitens “savored the blood on [his] hands...” and “earn[ed] the strength that [came] from working through the pain” every day for the first year “(Greitens 36). He “was becoming stronger” as three years went by (Greitens 36). Earl pushes and