The Heart and the Fist

The Heart and the Fist Book Cover The Heart and the Fist
Eric Greitens
Biography & Autobiography
Mariner Books

This is the first book from Eric Greitens. It is a story of the path he has taken from college to the military to humanitarian relief worker. It is an excellent read and I will have to go back and re-read because I am not sure how I can only have 10 kindle notes.

My parents cared a lot that I was a good person. They wanted me to treat others with kindness. They wanted me to be respectful. They wanted me to try hard. They wanted me to be a team player. But while they cared about these “character” things, they weren’t particularly concerned about whether I got great grades.

My thesis was simple: What matters for the long-term health and vitality of people who have suffered is not what they are given, but what they do. Rather than simply giving aid to children, it made sense to support children, families, and communities that were already engaged in their own recovery.

The namaste greeting has a spiritual origin that is usually understood to mean, “I salute the divinity within you.”

They quit, I believe, because they allowed their fear to overwhelm them. As the sun went down, and the thoughts of what was to come grew stronger and stronger, they focused on all of the pain that they thought they might have to endure and how difficult it might be. They were standing on the beach, perfectly at ease, reasonably warm, but they thought that they might be very cold and very pained and they thought that they might not be able to make it. Their fear built and built and built. The mind looked for a release, and the men who quit found their release in the bell.

Warriors are warriors not because of their strength, but because of their ability to apply strength to good purpose.

When I reflect back on it now, I realize that my hardest moment was also the only moment in all of Hell Week when I was alone, focused on my own pain. It was the only moment when I began to think that things were unfair, when I started to feel sorry for myself.

Venturing out at night with the Army Rangers in Ramadi, I was impressed with their tactics. As soon as we stepped out of the Stryker, the Rangers fell into a perfectly spaced formation.

Suffering is a theme in Greek literature and philosophy, and in the Western world’s first war story, The Iliad.

Phronesis is the ability to figure out what to do, while at the same time knowing what is worth doing.

I focused on changing one life at a time.