For someone like yourself, who spends so much time thinking about, writing about, and preaching about, self defense, nation defense, defense against criminals, defense against hippies, defense against terrorists, defense against immigrants, defense against communists, defense against liberals, rights to defend yourself, rights to be armed, etc., the world must indeed look like a huge scary place. Yes, these are real issues, but most of us don’t live our lives in a state of constant, vigilante fear and paranoia.
Stop being afraid, Phil. Trust me, the world is really not such a frightening place to be. Once you manage to shake off your irrational fear of everything and everyone who walks the earth, you might actually find yourself making some friends and having some fun. Stop being afraid, Phil. Leave the dark side. Come over to the light.
This foolish commentary was posted — as is typical, from behind the shield of anonymity — by an Internet denizen who took issue with an article I wrote about protecting America’s borders from illegal immigration. (Not surprisingly, the substantive points of that article were not addressed; it was easier to take shots at me by projecting this contrived and speculative psychological mischaracterization on me.) More broadly, this commentary speaks to the mentality of those who do not understand either the necessity of self-defense or the role prudent preparation for self-defense plays in the lives of well-adjusted citizens. It is fundamentally an attitude ascribed to what some call sheeple — subjects rather than citizens, the Great Undecided Middle who comprise a plurality of Americans (and a majority of citizens and subjects abroad). To the sheeple, armed citizens are the enemy, not criminals or societal predators. To sheeple, the very notion that danger could exist within society, or that it is only reasonably responsible to be prepared for that danger, is paranoia. Armed citizens are not and cannot be responsible men and women exercising their constitutionally protected rights to self-defense; they are, in the minds of sheeple, vigilantes. Notions of self-reliance and self-preservation are lost on sheeple; they believe that either you will never need to preserve yourself, or that if you experience an emergency you will (and you must) call on the recognized authorities to come and save you.
To sheeple, what they feel supersedes reality. Sheeple’s emotions, their wishful thinking, has been substituted for an objective recognition of what truly is. Sheeple will speak loudly and proudly about how they’ve never felt the need to be armed, or never felt the need to prepare or train for self-defense, or perhaps how they’ve never felt “unsafe” even in dangerous areas. What’s more, they’ll project their wishful thinking onto others, concluding that armed citizens — survivalists, self-defense exponents, and (more appropriatelY) martialists — are fearful. You see, sheeple are what Jeff Cooper characterized as non-copers. They resent and fear copers, those who are more capable and better prepared than the sheeple. Considering someone else’s superior preparation makes the sheeple confront the conflict between what they wish to believe and what truly ios — producing the uncomfortable sensation that is cognitive dissonance.
Fighting this cognitive dissonance, sheeple lash out. They attack martialists, mischaracterizing them (as you’ve seen) as fearful, as paranoid, as vigilantes. They see preparation before the fact as the problem, rather than the solution. To sheeple, even one person who will not play along with their naive, utopian worldview cannot be tolerated; he or she must be marginalized or otherwise dismissed in order to banish the cognitive dissonance the martialist’s conviction to truth creates in the sheeple. What is this truth, you ask? The truth that life is a struggle, but not a bleak one. There is nothing fearful or paranoid or even unpleasant about recognizing this; it is like recognizing gravity. It’s a fact with which we must deal — and to deny that fact is to behave absurdly. I could wake up tomorrow and proclaim that I’ve never felt the need to recognize the law of gravity. I might get through my whole life never testing my wishful thinking — but there might, indeed, come a day when I allow someone to push me off a building and then realize how wrong I was not to be prepared.
The fact that law enforcement and emergency personnel can rarely be where you need them exactly when you need them is lost on sheeple. Recordings of calls to 911 centers, in which victims scream for help as they are assaulted and murdered by societal predators, make no impression on sheeple. The very idea that you are responsible for yourself and your family — not your government or anyone else — is anathema to the utopian fantasy world in which sheeple live.
There is nothing fearful about recognizing the need for self-defense. From my own perspective as publisher of The Martialist, there is nothing fearful about choosing to devote oneself to writing about and furthering that goal. From the perspective of those of you reading this, there is nothing fearful about studying the topics raised in this ‘zine or preparing to meet the threats described herein. To consider someone paranoid for bothering to devote their effort to productive contributions to this field, to consider someone a vigilante for arming himself or herself in response to the issues raised in those contributions, is like telling someone who sells life insurance for a living (or someone who buys that life insurance) that he or she has a morbid desire to see people die.
Quite to the contrary, armed and prepared martialists are among the happiest, most empowered people I know. The philosophy of dynamic, assertive living that is martialism, practiced in whole or in part, knowingly or unknowingly, by armed citizens, survivalists, and martial artists around the world, is the opposite of fear. It is the freedom known only to those who accept responsibility for dealing with reality. It is the relief known only to those who have prepared for adversity, rather than simply wishing it away. It is the security known only to those who have proactively and affirmitively addressed their potential needs, rather than simply hoping that they will never be forced to do so.
Most of us have heard the fable of the grasshopper and the ant. The ant spends summer working, preparing for the winter ahead. As the industrious ant stores food and goes about his business, he is ridiculed by the grasshopper. The grasshopper, laughing and playing, asks the ant why he is wasting his time working. Food is plentiful; the weather is mild; the grasshopper has never felt the need to store food or to work when he could be enjoying himself and his life. How fearful the ant must be! How paranoid the poor wretch must feel, to spend the beautiful summer months toiling unnecessarily!
When winter comes, of course, the ant has done his work and is ready to face the cold and the snow from within the warmth of the shelter he is prepared. Depending on the version of the fable you read, the grasshopper either realizes his folly or he doesn’t; he either dies from the cold or the ant takes pity on him (with or without sarcastic commentary and moral pedantry).
Martialists are ants, of course; they commit time and energy to preparing for their needs and for the potential adversity life has to offer. The ants aren’t unhappy or fearful; they are simply realistic. This is, to some grasshoppers — to some sheeple — a terribly unpleasant reality to swallow. To recognize that life requires us to take responsibility for some things we find unpleasant, that it demands we acknowledge certain realities we find distasteful, requires a maturity and a fortitude of spirit that is beyond some wishful thinkers. That is, after all, why such people substitute what they want to believe for what is actually true. Reality is a harsh mistress, forgiving and uncaring. Our task is to perceive it accurately; if we fail, we suffer, and no amount of pleading, whining, bitching, or bargaining will change this.
The grasshoppers, the sheeple, are smug in the warm months of summer. It is the grasshopper who sneers, “Why would you need to carry a knife?” It is that same grasshopper who always turns to the ant to borrow that knife when a package must be opened or some other cutting chore accomplished. it is the grasshopper who derides, “I have never felt the need to be armed,” who then turns to armed citizens for help when the police are not or cannot be on hand in an emergency. Ask the Korean shopowners who held back looters and arsonists from the roof of their businesses during the L.A. riots. Ask them if they were “paranoid” or if they acted as “vigilantes” when they bought, stored, and then prepared to use firearms before and during an emergency.
Ask the driver in Texas traffic who shot and killed a road-raging man who grapped the driver through the open window and began mercilessly beating him as he sat, belted in and otherwise helpless. Ask him if he would rather have spent time in the hospital, or if he would rather have spent the rest of his life blinded or otherwise maimed, rather than shoot his attacker. Ask any woman who has ever stopped an attempted rape through prudent preparation and, possibly, the possession of a weapon. Ask any man who has ever responded to a suspicious noise in his home at three in the morning, with a flashlight and a pistol kept by his bedside. Ask any disaster survivor or refugee from civil unrest if preparing supplies ahead of time is paranoid or fearful.
You see, the grasshopper always considers the ant uptight, fearful, paranoid, and whatever else. The grasshopper resents the ant’s preparation, the ant’s empowerment, the ant’s abilities, the ant’s competence. The grasshopper responds with the only weapon available to him — empty derision. Those who live in worlds of wishful thinking have only ridicule to offer. Sheeple bleat loudly, condeming all that they fear (for they fear most things), projecting that fear onto those who’ve bothered to face danger and prepare for it, hoping for the best while making plans for the worst.
The ant, in turn, goes about his work shaking his head. He knows that for every grasshopper dancing and singing away the summer, there is another ant who recognizes what must be done. Martialists, the ants of the self-defense menagerie, understand these realities — just as they understand how useless grasshoppers truly are when the time for work arrives. While ants contribute, grasshoppers complain. While ants prepare, grasshoppers pontificate. While ants survive, grasshoppers surrender.
Considering your place in the menagerie of self-defense, your choice is clear. You can choose to be the ant or the grasshopper; you can bleat with the sheeple or you can walk upright with human beings. This is not an easy choice for some; it requires courage, it requires maturity, and it requires that we recognize certain unpleasant facts about the world. It also requires that we walk forward to face those challenges, without fear, without anxiety, enjoying the gift of our lives as we work to respect and preserve that gift.
Or you could dance. It’s still warm outside.