The Real Gladiators of the World



I always have a soft spot for words that capture the essence of the unsung heroes, the little fighters, and the peaceful warriors of the world.

These are the people who fight the good fight.  They don’t do it for recognition, fame, or glory.  They do it because it’s who they are, and they fight for what they believe in.  They stand strong when tested..

This is just such a passage.  It’s from the book, Swan Peak , by James Lee Burke.  It goes like this  …

“But if there’s a greater lesson in what occurred inside a clearing, it’s probably the simple fact that the real gladiators of the world are so humble in their origins, and unremarkable in appearance, that when we stand next to them in a grocery store line we never guess how brightly their souls can burn in the dark, or at least that’s the way it seems to me.”

Stand strong.

Photo by familymwr.


  1. And to just add to your thoughts, JD, I also want to believe that every single person has that inkling of strength that makes them unsung heroes. Sometimes, it’s just winning a little fight against ourselves during the day that can put us in that category. =) Maybe it’s the cigarette we didn’t light or the harsh words we didn’t say. I consider those little heroic acts. =)

    Love these thoughts, friend! =)

  2. @ Samantha — I know exactly what you mean. The other day I was thinking about how much of life is about our private victories and little wins. It’s the challenges that create and shape the stories of our lives.

    I see many of my friends trying new things for the first time, conquering personal challenges, and testing themselves in new ways.

    These are the journeys and adventures that will color their life, and make their actions meaningful, as they write their story forward, and their future unfolds.

    @ Dawn — It’s true. Everybody has a story, and the stories are always remarkable. I think it comes down to the fact we all share the human experience.

  3. Hi J.D.,

    Good post. So many folks are unsung heroes. All over the world, doing compassionate, brave things that go for the most part unnoticed. If we realized that we did share the human experience we might be more kind to each other. I like doing things for folks that only a few people know about. Makes it feel powerful to not shout it to the world.

    thanks! G. p.s. I mentioned you in my post today.

  4. @ Giulietta — There are so many unsung heroes. I wish I could share all the stories people tell me each day, but I respect their privacy. For example, I know so many that took on running and reshaped their lives on so many levels.

    Thanks for the shout out!

    @ Lance — Yes indeed. I don’t know if you ever played Street Fighter, but my favorite part is when Ryu wins he stands quietly with strength and humility, but confidence in a job well done.

  5. Seriously, great reminder JD.

    We probably pass these gladiators everyday without knowing a thing. I have heroes for friends that if only the world knew about them, they would be immortalized in film and books. Yet isn’t it funny that the true gladiators are also the ones who don’t flaunt their accomplishments and greatness?

    Thanks again,


  6. Thanks JD. You remind me that we never know the story of the unassuming stranger next to us, and what heroic things he or she may have done. I think of the unsung heroes in my own life, people who have greatly assisted or deeply touched me. Hopefully I can pass it on to others be be heroic to someone as well.

  7. @ Bryce — Thank you.

    I think there power comes because they don’t have to prove anything to anyone, just themselves.

    @ Sean — I know what you mean. People surprise me all the time. Sometimes it’s just their “hobby.” Sometimes it’s their cause. Sometimes it’s an amazing achievement.

    Greatness comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes it’s hidden inside an unrevealing wrapper.

  8. Nice prose JD, very interesting. Guess if it’s words then a gladiator is a fighter so perhaps then we’re all fighting too much with life? In a word I see peacemakers everywhere in every town and country. At peace, being in love, helping out, working and contributing, and happily waiting their turn in the grocery queues. Each and everyone of us unwarring, getting along, keeping life stable and secure, souls. God bless the peacemakers!

  9. @ John — Along those lines, I’m a fan of the metaphor of a peaceful warrior … the ability to fight the good fight, getting back up when you get knocked down, responding to challenges, and creating meaningful changes, and doing so in a peaceful/greater good way.

  10. Gave me the idea of just asking myself “do I stand strong?”
    Love test-driven approach to everything, including myself 😉

  11. @ Keith — Thank you. It’s been a while since I watched Peaceful Warrior, and each time I, do it reminds me of the power of inner strength.

    @ Alik — And the beauty is we get tested every day in one way or another. We have plenty of chances to test our inner-strength and ability to respond to our challenges. It’s the stuff our personal stories are made of.

    @ John — Thank you. Yes indeed, and Ghandi, said it so well with, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It’s timeless wisdom.

  12. The real gladiators are the ones you don’t even know won the battle. They’re so humble about their doings that they don’t need to gloat about it to the world.

  13. j.D Can’t agree more
    i wrote a post earlier called “who are the real heroes” , i was trying to make that same point clear
    great one my friend 🙂

  14. @ Farouk –Thank you. I think we all have real heroes in our life, in one way or another. Even though their reward is internal, I find that thanking them for what they do creates a warm glow.

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