Duelling has completely been abandoned in most circles in place of compromise and a complete disregard for honour. This is most likely the result of a misunderstanding of the nature of the duel and our societies obsession with protecting self-esteem at all costs. Duelling didn’t need to die off, it could have evolved and I say we bring it back.
There’s a couple things most people don’t understand about duelling. First, it was a last resort. It was extremely rare for a challenge to even be made unless all the more peaceful options to resolve the disagreement were already exhausted. Second, duels were rarely fatal. In most cases one of the combatants would capitulate and the disagreement would ultimately be resolved peacefully.
Why to Revive Duelling
First and foremost, challenging someone to a duel shows how strongly a man believes in his position. Nobody in their right mind would be willing to put his honour, or even his life, on the line for something he doesn’t hold dear.
It’s also public. When someone’s challenged to a duel because of his wrongdoings, they’re put on display for all to see. You can’t escape the shame and shame is the most effective and mature deterrent.
How to Revive Duelling
The problem with duelling is in the lethality. The difficulty, then, is retaining adequate consequences while preventing fatality. My solution is to replace the traditional duel with some other public contest. The most important part is that the contest and its outcome are known to those whose opinions matter.
Any contest will work as long as it’s fair. You can’t resolve a matter of honour by challenging someone to a match of a sport you excel at and he’s never played.
Risking one’s body also makes a contest more effective. Risking injury is as close as we can come to risking our lives without actually risking death.
When you combine the need for fairness and risk, they best contests would often be boxing or martial arts. They’re sports that every man should learn and have the potential for serious injury. They’re also among the easiest to make public.
The next time your slighted and can’t resolve things peacefully, challenge the offender to a duel, a real or virtual contest.