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When you break your optic, you’ll appreciate those iron sights…………..

So, those who have been in a rifle class specifically, but pretty much any class that involves the use of a rifle, can tell stories about how John Mosby abuses the shit out of his rifles. One of the demonstrations I do to illustrate a) the robustness of the Stoner platform, and b) the robustness of modern optics, is to hold my rifle out, at shoulder-height, and drop it, optics down, onto the ground, before standing on the rifle, while I finish an explanation. After four-plus years of doing that, I had—until very recently—never caused a single bit of damage to a rifle.

A couple years ago, in Arizona, I bent the rear bell on a Burris MTAC 1.5-6X, just enough that it made it difficult to adjust the magnification. Not impossible, or even close, just not as easy as it normally is. Despite the damage, the optic retained its zero, and when I removed it from my fighting rifle and put it on a hunting rifle, it zeroed to the new rifle easily. So, really, minimal damage, and for practical purposes, no damage.

A month or two ago, I finally managed to fuck a rifle up. In a vehicle class, back east, someone asked about “protecting” the rifle from banging off stuff when dismounting the vehicles. I was a little—should I phrase it….”overenthusiastic”–in my demonstration. Instead of just dropping the rifle, I chucked it—hard–about 40 feet across the meadow that was our training site. I had an AmTac Precision 15” free-float rail on the rifle. The rail ended up bent into a slight S-curve, was torqued a good 20+ degrees in twist, and the holes along the bottom of the rail were split out, and the rail section that held my Streamlight TLR-1HL weapon light came off. That is NOT, in any way, shape, or form, a denouncement of the rail system. For a couple reasons, as we’ll discuss in the next paragraph, the rail performed flawlessly, considering the abuse.

So, what happened to the optic? Well, the same thing that happened to the barrel: fuck all. When I got a chance to test-fire the weapon again, on a known-distance range, at home, it still shot sub-2MOA, and the POA/POI remained exactly the same as it was when I left for the class.

What is the point of this? There are a couple, actually.

1) Considering the cost, the Burris MTAC is, despite the one minor drawback (I absolutely despise the weird ass size of the center dot. Seriously, Burris, make me one with a 1MOA center dot, or a 2MOA at worst!), an extremely robust, well-made piece of optic.

2) AmTac makes a hell for tough piece of rail. Sure, it took some damage, but considering the fact that it protected the barrel—and all the impact would have occurred right on the barrel nut, the fact that it didn’t damage the barrel or the barrel’s straightness, at all, is noteworthy. AmTac now has the rail sitting in their front lobby, at their shop in Garden City, ID, if you want to go in and see it for yourself….

3) I see lots of comments on blogs and forums, posts on Facebook, and everywhere else in the gun community, with dudes talking about “Optics are great until shit hits the fan!” or “Well, what about when batteries run out?” “What about when you break the optics?”

As I pointed out in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume One, the chances of breaking a QUALITY combat optic, without irreparably breaking your gun in the process, are so slim as to be remarkable. Does this mean you shouldn’t run iron back-up sights? Not at all. If that tickles your taint, or gives you warm fuzzies, by all means, mount them. It’s not going to hurt anything, and the weight is negligible. When some knucklehead troglodyte at the gun store counter starts harping on how fragile optics are though, don’t get buffaloed by his baffling bullshit. You’re not going to break your optic, unless it’s a) a complete piece of shit, designed for Airsoft, b) you do it intentionally, or c) you do something really stupid, like fall off a mountain, drop your rifle off a mountain, or throw your rifle across a range to prove a point.

I wish I were as robust as a modern, quality, combat optic….

Combat Rifle Course Review–Idaho Falls, ID SEP 2015

(The reviewer who wrote this is a former US Navy SEAL (verified BUD/S graduate), who, as he points out in the last paragraph, has been out for while. As always, my comments are bold, italicized, and in parentheses. My wife, HH6, pinned him with the nickname SCUBA Steve, JR, immediately upon discovering his background, since the SCUBA Steve moniker was already taken, and she’s not nearly as humorous as she thinks she is [and she will read this, so, “I love you.”]

Posting has been scant lately. We’ve been on the road teaching back-to-back classes for several weeks now, with a few more weeks to go before we get to return home for a break. My apologies for delayed responses to emails and the scarcity of entertaining—or obnoxious—blog posts.–JM)

AAR Narrative about the John Mosby Combat Rifle Class 2015108


A review and some lessons learned.

As someone who attended JM’s Open Enrollment October Combat Rifle in the vicinity of Idaho Falls, I can verify it was well worth the time, effort, and money. I’m not the only participant feeling this way. The class was attended by twenty students, many of whom had driven 8+ hours to attend the class, and one gentleman had driven 14+ hours.

An apparent side effect of having to travel so far means that participants who did make it really (REALLY–JM) wanted to be there.

This was a three-day class, from Friday through Sunday, with most people traveling on Thursday. Many made the drive home on Sunday, meaning they arrived home around midnight. The people who traveled far really had to set aside four or five days, one for travel each way, and three days on-site. That level of commitment seems to have provided a bit of participant self-selection as the class had no knuckleheads, busybodies, or other questionable characters. Apparently this is not always the case, which is why JM practices OPSEC with burner phones, and last minute link-up instructions, keeping a hard barrier between training contacts and his family (for the most part, students in these classes have been genuinely awesome people, just FYI, but it only takes one dude pissing in the pot to ruin the soup. –JM)

JM started things by having the class gather round and asking anyone who had military experience to raise their hand. He then pointed to each raised hand and asked about service and training particulars and in general, worked to get a good feel for the participants (To be honest, I do this largely out of self-interest. When I find out I’ve got guys with relevant experience, I tap them to help out as AI/Safeties, etc, as I did with SSJR…–JM). Out of our class of twenty, only a handful had any military experience and most were just “regular people.” The average age of participants was actually forty-plus, with only a couple “young bucks,” and many “seasoned” folks sporting silver hair. We also had multiple husband-and-wife or father-son teams show up.

Back to the participants and self-selection: These people were there because they really wanted to be there and it showed in their humility, attitudes, and focus. Throughout the weekend, the participants paid attention, stayed engaged, and practiced safety and muzzle awareness. I’m sure some of this was due to JM’s teaching ability—and his ability to inject a bit of “fear” when needed, such as, “if you move without putting your *&^&&^# safety on, I will tackle you and land points down—elbows and knees—so that you do NOT enjoy it!” but a lot of it was also due—again–to the caliber of the participants. During the verbal AAR, JM indicated that this is usually the case. Participants are generally good to go.

Training: The focus of this training is gunfighting, and JM reminded the participants of this fact throughout the weekend. This one lesson—gunfighting–came up again and again as participants battled with the balance between “excellent” and “good enough.” “Good enough” might be the single greatest takeaway from the weekend for many as they came from hunting backgrounds and were not used to “good enough.” Many of the tactical drills were graded on the “C zone,” which John continually pointed out is “good enough.” (Yet, as those that were there will note, the one shot I threw into the C, and out of the A Zone, completely pissed me off….”Good enough” is relative to your own standards. –JM) Yes, plugging a 3×5 card at 100M is great—if needed—but losing the fight because you took too long to set up the shot, going for excellent, and the enemy made the “good enough” shot, means you are still hit, will probably not make your shot, and now are a casualty. Focus on “good enough!” (And then improve what defines “good enough”–JM)

Drills: The drills and explanations are in JM’s book. Buy the book, review the material, and get to the class. Enough said.

The facility was private ground in the form of a cow pasture with a suitable backstop. The targets were IPSC cardboard with 3×5 cards, masking tape and Sharpies. We fired maybe 250-300 rounds total, and half of that was fired in the final drill. The point is that great training can be done almost anywhere and on the cheap. High speed shooting schools are awesome and a lot of fun, but are not required to learn to gunfight (I should point out, while I have no problem with using cool-guy training aids, ranging from custom build MOUT facilities and computerized, random pop-up targets, I grew up getting the most value out of hip pocket training, and then went to school to learn to train indigenous forces in austere environments. I’m comfortable with austere training set-ups, and consider them ideal for training preparedness minded/concerned citizens, since when SHTF, and you are forced to train others, you will probably not be training them on an automated, multi-million dollar range facility. This serves as a great introduction to what is possible inexpensively and with little layout. –JM)

I do want to highlight just how rapidly the class was able to progress, from starting with verifying the rifle zero (including getting some to the point of actually shooting a group tight enough to zero with—JM), to static-line shooting, to finally, moving, shooting, and communicating, during live-fire exercises. JM successfully crammed a lot of training into three days and you are definitely drinking from a fire hose. Several students had been to this very same class before and repeated it again—yes, as paying students—to do it all again. And this brings us to the final, real point:

Was the class worth the $500 fee? Yes, without a doubt, the class is worth it. When you add up what many students spent in time, gas, hotels, food, etc, the cost of the class was only part of the overall total. Yes, $500 is not chump change, and can buy a fair amount of ammunition. The bottom line is that, if you have spent the time and money to purchase a rifle, and think you might ever have to use it, you really do need to go get training. Real training. Gunfight training. Static range work can only get you so far (which is not anywhere near the same thing as saying, “Static range work is useless.” Static range work is essential to building the basic skills that are leveraged into gunfight shooting. Anyone who tells you static range work is useless is utterly, completely full-of-shit. –JM) People showed up with a wide variety of gear; vests, holsters, slings, armor, boots, clothes, knee and elbow pads, ear protection, etc. JM did a great job of pointing out that gear is just gear. What really matters is the person working the gear. And working the gear means you need to be trained, and then continue practicing.

JM, you can include this if you want, your call:

FWIW, your humble reviewer is a former SEAL who has been out of the game for over a decade, and has not run a gun in the same length of time. I showed up way rusty, and although much came back to me, I have a long way to go. I learned some new techniques from JM, and he is an excellent instructor. Yes, I’ve been to some of the cool schools, and spent lots of time on military ranges. I would drop $500 again, in a heartbeat, to go through JM’s Combat Rifle class again. It’s that good! Good drills, good instruction, good focus. My only regret is that JM’s location back to the Midwest puts him really far away.

Final Thought:

JM may or may not do any more “open enrollment” classes. JM is still doing “private classes” as are other trainers. If you want this level of training, find others in your area and schedule a private class. It will be worth your time and money.


Proper Prior Performance Prevents Piss-Poor Planning

Wait, did I type that wrong? No, actually I did not.

We throw a lot of pithy quotes and cliches around the tactical community, often without understanding exactly what the Hell they mean. In the preparedness community, in my experience, this is even more prevalent. We can talk about planning all we want, but if we haven’t done the work prior—if we haven’t performed—planning is nothing but a masturbatory exercise: all of the work, and only a poor mimicry of the satisfaction of doing it for real and right.

So, what exactly constitutes “proper prior performance?” Is it just “training?” After all, I beat the dead horse of “TRAIN! TRAIN! TRAIN! TRAIN!” a lot, right?

The answer is, “Yes….and No.”

Yes, training is critical, that should be fucking obvious. Someone just posted a video that I saw on Facebook of some dude blasting at three armed robbers in his store…without hitting any of them, as far as I could tell from the video. Owning a goddamned gun does NOT make you a gunfighter. Talking about “mindset” does not mean you have the right attitude to split skulls. Period. You have to do the work. I don’t know how many times I—and pretty much every other trainer in the entire goddamned world—can beat on that. There’s more to it than that though.

What is the goal of training? Is it just to “do stuff?” Or, is it to meet—and hopefully exceed—a set metric of performance? Let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, that you’re NOT a complete fucking moron, and understand that training, without having a set of standards as a performance metric, is a waste of time, energy, and money. So, why do we have metrics?

One answer is simply “to know what we can do.” Another might be, “so we can tell someone new what we can do.” This latter answer is not about bragging, but simply explaining to a newcomer, “Hey, this is what we’re capable of, you need to meet these standards as well, if you want to work/train with us.”

Ultimately, going back to the title of this very short article, there is a more important reason why we have standards that MUST BE MET. It is only through the establishment—and meeting—of standards, that we can objectively plan effectively. It doesn’t matter if your planning to conduct security patrols, raids, ambushes, a bug-out, or farm work. If you don’t know—objectively—what you’re capable of, you might as well not be capable of it.

How do we know we’re capable of something? There’s only one way: by doing the work, and meeting the standard. If you don’t do the work, you don’t know if you can meet the standards, regardless of how simple they might seem. I’m going to give you a couple of examples, seen in recent classes (I’m on a seven week long teaching trip, doing a class every single weekend. I’ve got lots of recent experience to use as examples…).

1) Rifle Marksmanship: In a recent class in Missouri, I had a shooter who said he was a life-long experienced shooter, who was an “expert” marksman. He “got his deer” every year, and apparently has an entire safe full of guns, although the AR15 he was running in this class was his first fighting rifle.

The problem was, he could barely keep his shots, even during zero fire, in the A-Zone of a standard IPSC silhouette target, let alone tight enough to actually zero the weapon. “I get my deer every year” is NOT a shooting standard. Did you head shoot your deer? Were they running, walking, or stationary when you shot them? Where did you shoot them? Aiming for the heart/lungs, and blowing his paunch out instead is NOT a marker of accuracy and shooting skill. How far away were the deer when you shot them? Hitting an eight inch vitals area, at 10 yards, in the brush of east Tennessee, is not particularly evident of skill-at-arms.

“I can put one round per second into the A-Zone of an IPSC silhouette, at any distance, out to 400 meters,” is a standard. It’s an identifiable metric. “I can qualify on the US Army Qualification Tables” is a metric of performance—albeit not a particularly laudable one. “I can shoot expert on the AQT” is slightly better.

In order to establish a standard, it has to actually provide a metric. A metric is defined as “a system of measurement.” It has nothing to do with the metric system, except that the metric system are metrics. What is does have to do with is objectivity. It needs to be…well….objective.

“I can shoot gooder than all my buddies at deer camp!” is not an objective metric. It’s subjective. Maybe all your friends are actually—objectively—really shitty marksmen (if the deer and elk camps I’ve been in are any indication, this is probably the case).

Further, marksmanship alone is a piss-poor metric for combat shooting. How fast can you achieve that level of accuracy? Shooting the asshole out of a gnat, at 500 yards, is commendable. Unrealistic, but commendable. On the other hand, if I can hit a head-sized target at that range, every time, and do it in 1/10th of the time it takes you to get that super refined sight picture, you’re fucked in the eyeball, aren’t you?

With gunhandling, standards need to encompass both a time and an accuracy metric.

Can I plan anything, if I don’t know how close my people need to be, in order to actually hit what they’re shooting at? Should I just take their word that “I kin hit that thar!”

2) In another recent class, focusing on the planning and execution of a security patrol, the plan that was to be executed called for a seven-mile road march—admittedly in some really steep mountain terrain—in four hours. That’s slower than a 30-minute mile. That should be doable, even with a rucksack on, in the mountains, for a reasonably fit person, right? It took the students two hours to go three miles, and the route got steeper from there.

Now, I’m not out to pick on students in my classes, but one of the biggest takeaways from the class, for the students was, “we need to objectively determine fitness levels.”

During the planning phase, in order to determine friendly force capabilities, the group went around and asked “what’s your fitness level?” The answers were given on a scale of 1-10, and for the most part, tended to be very confident (note to future students: when the SF veteran tells you his fitness level is a “3,” and he’s obviously not in poor shape, you might take that as what my cop friends call, a clue……).

The problem was not that their fitness level assessments were wrong. They may have very well been on that level, within their social and training circles, but that’s not subjective. It’s easy to be a big fish, if the pond is small. When you are in the ocean though, there are Great White Sharks out there….

We talk a lot about PT standards, including road march times. One thing that is often overlooked is that road marches take place….on roads. Movement cross country, and especially cross-country in rough terrain, while trying to maintain stealth, takes even longer.

I had a conversation the other day with a buddy who recently left the Army Special-Missions Unit. He was discussing a raid they did, in the not-too-distant past, that involved a heli-borne insertion, followed by an 800 meter movement, over a steep ridgeline, to the objective rally point. I can run 800 meters in a couple of minutes, even uphill. That should have been an easy movement for a bunch of superfit, elite tactical athletes from SFOD-D, right? 20-30 minutes on the outside? Try two hours on for size.

Standards don’t tell us how fast we will be able to move, but they can give us an indication of how fast we CAN move. That is important for planning. If I build a plan that calls for a 15-minute mile road march movement, and the fastest my guys can move on the road, under load, is a 45-minute mile, my plan is useless as tits on a bull. If they can’t make a 30-minute mile on the road, how fast are they going to be able to move, scaling a near vertical climb, through the brush? We. Just. Do. Not. Know. Because, we don’t have any metric to base estimates on.

Not everyone in this world is a meat-eater. Not everyone in your tribe is destined for the path of the hero. Some will be butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. There’s nothing wrong with any of those trades, and all are equally important to the survival of the tribe as the warrior-hero…at least until there’s a dragon at the front gate. We expect our butchers and bakers to actually cut meat and bake bread. We expect our candlestick makers to actually make candlesticks. We expect a certain base level of quality in their work. Not expecting a base level of quality in the work of the warrior—which is, until it’s time to put heads on spikes, is training—is so ridiculous as to seem ludicrous. Establish standards, and expect yourself, and those around you, to meet them.

If you’re running “planning” exercises, even within your larger training scenarios, and you don’t have a set of performance standards that you expect people to meet, you’re playing a motherfucking game, and I would point out that Call-of-Duty, even in multi-player, online format, is probably cheaper than buying a bunch of gear (Actually, I don’t know. I don’t even know how much a Nintendo costs these days….). It’s certainly less work.


Or, do what everyone else does, and go collect welfare, so you don’t have to do any work.

You’re Getting Played…..

Tragically, yesterday, a Harris County, TX deputy was assassinated at a gas station, while fueling his patrol car. While there are a lot of people who think I am vehemently “anti-cop/anti-LEO,” that’s not true. I have a large number of friends and family who are, or have been, police officers. I considered being a police officer, when I left the military, before recognizing that I genuinely don’t have the temperament to do that work, in the manner that I believe it should be done. This is NOT a bash on police officers. I will repeat. THIS IS NOT A BASH ON POLICE OFFICERS.

This is a bash on the media control of your brainwashing, and the documentation to illustrate the truth of its occurrence.

It’s been a “bad year” for cops in the US, right? Lots of them getting assassinated, right? Surely, it’s all a result of the uprisings in urban areas, by inner-city youths and their communist agitators, right? It’s horrible, right?

Well, it’s horrible, sure, but it’s actually been a pretty average—if not below average—year for violent homicide of police officers, compared to the last thirty years.

Do you need an example of media conditioning of the American mind? I’m going to give you an example.

We have Fox News on, at the moment, as we’re sitting here, deciding what we’re going to actually do for the evening, since the kids are at Grandma’s for the weekend.

They were just discussing the assassination of the Harris County, TX deputy last night. To preface this, despite some folks’ belief that I am somehow anti-cop, I am NOT saying that this was okay. At all. I am however, going to use this as a PERFECT example of how the media fucking controls people’s thinking.

Lots of cops getting killed this year, right? Lots of cops being shot and murdered.

Except, we’re actually BELOW the average for the year, compared to recent history, despite the brouhaha the media is making.

I have been wondering about it for a little while now, with the constant barrage by the media, of police officers being assassinated. So, I went and looked at the Officer’s Down Memorial Page (, to look at the statistics.

Keep in mind, as you look at the numbers:

1) We are already at the end of August. So, we’re 2/3 of the way through the year. As of my checking today, there were 82 line-of-duty deaths of police officers, nationwide (the Harris County Deputy was not yet listed). Of that 82, three were the result of “Assault,” twenty-three were a result of “Gunfire,” (not including “Accidental Gunfire,” which is a separate category), and three were the result of Vehicular Assault. Remember those numbers, and remember, we’re already 2/3 of the way through the year.

Assault: 3
Gunfire: 23
Vehicular Assault: 3

That’s a total, 2/3 of the way through the year, of 29 violent homicides of police officers….If the trend remains, that’s going to result in 45 violent homicides of police officers, by the end of the year, assuming my math is correct (and it’s entirely possible that it’s not. I suck at math….)

Now, let’s look at 2005:

In total, there were 166 LOD deaths of police officers, nation-wide, in 2005. Of those, none are listed as “Assault,” but there was one killed by “Stabbing.” There were FIFTY-THREE killed by “Gunfire,” FIFTEEN killed by Vehicular Assault, and one killed by a “bomb,” (And I don’t know if that was intended to kill the officer, as in a targeted assassination, or he was an EOD guy who got blown up in the line-of-duty). Assuming the bomb victim was an assassination, that’s a total of 70, for violent murders of police officers, in 2005. We’re WAY behind 2005, so far this year.

But, let’s look back another decade, to 1995:

In 1995, there were 187 total LOD deaths of police officers in the US. Of those, four were “Assaults.” SEVENTY were “Gunfire.” Four were “Stabbing” victims, eight were “Vehicular Assault.” Eight are listed as “Terrorist Attack,” referring to the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in OKC (Regardless of what you think happened in OKC, let’s assume it WAS what we’ve been told it was, for the sake of argument, and it COULD be said that those eight were the victims of “assassination.”) That’s a total of 94 violent assassinations of police officers in 1995….
How about 1985?
There were 180 total LOD deaths, nation-wide. Of those, 98 were violent homicides. Six were the result of “Assaults.” SEVENTY-FIVE were the victims of “Shooting,” and three were “Stabbed.” Fourteen were the result of “Vehicular Assault.”

If you extrapolate the numbers for the rest of the year, based on averages….29 divided by 8 months is 3.65 per month. So, for 12 months, that would make the projection come out to 43.5 violent homicides of police officers in the US for the year….

So, exactly how “bad” of a year has it ACTUALLY been for police officers, and how much is actually a result of us just being MORE exposed the killings that HAVE occurred, because of the 24 hour news cycle? How much are you being played by the media?

Turn off the fucking television, get off the Internet (except to read my blog, of course….), and go get face-to-face with your friends, family, and neighbors. It’ll drop your blood pressure, almost as much as doing PT will.

(I should add the parenthetical note….I don’t believe the ODMP is an official .gov website, and I didn’t look at the FBI page to look at these numbers. Feel free to correct me, if the numbers on the FBI site contradict the message.

I should also add, again….this is NOT a bash on cops, most of whom are doing a good job at a shitty job. Any comments talking about “pigs” or advocating the assassination of police officers will be deleted forthwith. That’s NOT the purpose of this article.)

More on The Way of the Hero

Jack Donovan, of The Way of Men fame, resurrected his Start The World podcast the other day, with an interview with Greg Hamilton, former Ranger and SF soldier, and one of the founders of Insights Training, in Tacoma, WA.

Whether it’s because Greg and I come from similar backgrounds (although Greg did a hell of a lot more cool guy stuff than I did), or we ended up in similar places because of similar philosophies, I couldn’t say, but he spends a lot of time in this interview discussing the Way of the Hero, and his thoughts on following that Way.

Listen, think, learn, apply.

From the Comments

I found this request in my comments today:

Would you mind doing a breakdown of everything that went wrong here? I don’t have the chops/experience to Monday morning quarterback him but I think this falls in line with what you’ve been stressing lately.

Thanks for doing what you do.”

So, I’m going to preface this with the statement that this is really, kind of outside my area of expertise. I would really like to see someone like Paul Sharp or Craig Douglas break this down, but since I was asked, and it’s something we all need to be thinking about, I’m going to go ahead and give my thoughts on my observations.

1) The victim (and make no mistake, he was a VICTIM) had zero fucking situational awareness. I’m guessing he was buying lottery tickets and scratching them off (seriously. That in itself tells me he’s a sucker), but I cannot imagine, in my worst nightmares, letting someone I didn’t know–especially in an otherwise empty Stop-N-Rob station–get that close behind me without at least turning around to a) see what the fuck he wanted, and b) asking if he would “pretty please, wouldja mind” BACKING THE FUCK OFF!!?

2) It looks like, and the movement of the BGs right hand seems to indicate, that his “concealed” gun was printing through his t-shirt. I could go into the benefits of appendix carry in preventing this, as well as protecting against the gun grab, but that would be self-evident (and will be mentioned below, anyway). While concealed carry is the only legitimate method of carry for thinking people for normal every day carry, for both tactical and political reasons (open carry in the woods is not “normal” for most of us, since we tend to live in towns, and carrying at a political rally MAY be open to debate, but for both tactical and political reasons, open carry in day-to-day life is retarded. Period.), it has to actually, you know…be concealed….

3) While, laudably, the victim was apparently WILLING to fight, he lacked the ABILITY to fight. This is something I’ve beat the EVER-LOVING-FUCK out of on this blog, as I beat on the “you need to get training” drum. Will is great, but skill beats will, more often than not. Dude is on his back, wrestling for hand control of the gun, and doesn’t know what the fuck to do. Now, I’m not going to say that having studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for six months would have made a difference (it would have), but at least, with some experience fighting from the bottom, he could have leveraged the presence of his legs into the fight by trying to replace guard, and giving himself some better degree of control of the situation to hopefully hang on to the gun, and maybe not get shot. Carrying appendix, when combined with some knowledge of how to fight, would have damned near guaranteed that he would have maintained positive control of the gun. Hell, he might have even been able to shoot the Bad Guy. As it is, he got shot at, with his own gun, before the BG took off with it.

There are few ways in this world that one can die, more embarrassing, than being shot with YOUR OWN GODDAMNED GUN!!!!

4) Dude just looked like a victim. I mean, seriously. Look at that scrawny little dude. My wrists are bigger around than his biceps. He needed to be in the gym, throwing some heavy weight around. At least then, since he lacked the skill to fight, he MIGHT have been able to leverage the STRENGTH to win….

(Yes, maybe he has cancer, or AIDS, or HerpeGonorrheaSyphilAIDS, or something else, and I’m a horrible person for making fun of him for not being a weightlifter. Tough shit. Fate don’t care. She’s a mean old cunt like that.)

Edited to add: And he looks like he’s wearing his goddamned pajamas out in public. Even the bad guy took the time to tuck his shirt in before he entered the store. Seriously. Dress like a goddamned grown man, not like a fucking eight year old. You’ll look less like a victim.

Building Tribe: The Way of the Hero

...Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker…

–C.S. Lewis

…the sagas celebrate the deeds of heroic individuals who often break the rules. But, such individuals are celebrated because they are exceptional. It is such men who lead, and command the loyalty of others (which is the virtue most conspicuously celebrated in the sagas). All people need leaders; they seldom if ever liberate or enlighten themselves. If great changes are to be made, a vanguard is needed, and in the beginning, that vanguard will be feared and despised.” –Colin Cleary

For much of human history, the art of the hero wasn’t left up to chance…the hero’s skills were studied, practiced, and perfected, then passed along from parent to child and teacher to student. The art of the hero wasn’t about being brave; it was about being so competent that bravery wasn’t an issue. You weren’t supposed to go down for a good cause; the goal was to figure out a way not to go down at all. Achilles and Odysseus and the rest of the classical heroes hated the thought of dying and scratched for every second of life. A hero’s one crack at immortality was to be remembered as a champion, and champions don’t die dumb. It all hinged on the ability to unleash the tremendous resources of strength, endurance, and agility that many people don’t realize they already have.

–Christopher McDougall

As I’ve been working steadily along, trying to create book number three in an image that at least somewhat resembles the goals I have for it, the three quotes above have been pinned to the wall above my office desk, because so much of the essence of the goal of the book is encompassed in those three quotes.

You see, one of the characteristics that defines a tribe, both anthropologically and practically, is a shared history, whether real or mythic. This history may be ancestral. Generally, all members of a kin-group tribe will be able to trace their ancestry back to a common individual, but often—thanks to the phenomena of intermarriage and adoption in tribal societies, those ancestral bonds are as likely to be mythic as they are to be connected by DNA. In sodalities, like guilds and war-band type tribes of course, it’s almost a given that the shared ancestry of the tribe—the nucleus that makes them a tribe, their “mutual exclusivity,” is going to to be more mythic than real.

That’s okay. Why is that okay? I mean, isn’t that a lie?

Let’s back up, for just a moment, and look again at what defines a tribe. A tribe is a social unit that possesses something that defines the group’s boundaries, but also that separates it from the rest of humanity. It’s the “us vs. them” that Jack Donovan discusses in his writing. I refer to it as “mutual exclusivity.” It’s that je ne sais quoi that defines the boundaries of “our”group from others.
It doesn’t need to be real, as long as it’s real to the group.

That mutual exclusivity, typically, can be defined as the shared history, ancestry, values, traditions, and customs, of the people of the tribe. Some may be shared with other tribes, but the specifics of how OUR tribe recognizes or exercises them is different enough that it separates us from them. In pre-Christianization Europe, for one example, pretty much all tribes that are now recognized as having belonged to the Germanic linguistic group—the Cherusci, the Allemani, the Marcomanni, the Franks, Angles, Saxons, and Jutes; the Vandals and Gepids, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Burgundians, and Lombards, were “Germanic.” Their languages were all connected. Their cultures shared similarities, but their cultures were not identical. They were separate tribes, even as they shared common cultural characteristics.

Today however, we’re going to discuss one particular characteristic of tribalism and neo-tribalism, the immense value of the shared mythic ancestry of a tribe.

In what can be defined as an “intentional tribe,” such as a guild or war-band type association historically, or in our post-modern context, the intentional grouping of like-minded families for mutual assistance, where shared ancestry is not—and almost cannot—be certain, the mythic ancestry, and the lessons that can be gained from claiming a shared mythic ancestry cannot be overemphasized.

An example of this can be seen in the military, with the adoption of unit lineages. The United States Army says the following about the lineage of the Ranger Regiment: “The U.S. Army Ranger history predates the Revolutionary War.” Now, BY DEFINITION, nothing of the United States can predate the Revolution. So, by citing Majors Church and Rogers, fighting for the British, in the French and Indian War—especially considering Major Rogers’ later loyalties—as ancestral figures for the U.S. Army’s Rangers, is the very definition of a mythic ancestry for the unit. That doesn’t, however, change the fact that the exploits of Rogers’ Rangers, for one, have long served as a catalyst for awesome achievements by members of the unit.

We can do the same thing with our own intentional tribes, and kin-group tribes as well, today.

So, what is the value of the hero? In the Age of the Anti-Hero, why bother? Nobody takes that heroism shit seriously anyway, right? Two days ago, as I write this, three young American men, along with an older British pensioner, followed the Way of the Hero, on a train in France, when a would-be jihadist gunmen decided to shoot up their train car with a Kalashnikov. Rather than sitting back and hoping for “someone” to do “something,” they took action. There was, apparently, no hesitation on their part. They “went to the sound of the guns” literally.

It is popular in contemporary American society—and make no mistake, it carries over into the shooting world, as well as the preparedness and liberty communities—to belittle those who choose to try and set themselves up for success when their time comes to follow the Way of the Hero. Long-time readers of this blog have seen it regularly in the comments.

“Oh, you can do all that PT you want. You can do all that training, but you could still get unlucky, and catch a bullet. You could still die from dysentery or smallpox or anthrax.”

Those people are absolutely right. You COULD die from one of those. That doesn’t matter though, because, as they point out, it doesn’t matter how fit or prepared you are…when smallpox catches you, smallpox catches you, and fitness—while it MIGHT increase your survivability—is going to have less impact on your future than good nursing and medical care.

In The Fate of Empires, Sir John Baget Glubb argued that the rise of intellectualism was one of the causes of the decline of empire. In Athens, the spirit of continual conversation, mentioned Biblically in The Acts of the Apostles, “…all of the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas…” led to interminable debate and discussion, and constant argument, back-and-forth, among factions with different views of the end-state goals of Athenian democracy.

Just like in our own time, when people are too busy arguing over the details of their pet peeve or concern of the week, instead of getting out and doing something that matters, the spirit of Athenian debate seems to be, much like it was in other historical imperial cultures, the destruction of the spirit of action that is necessary for success.

Make no mistake, the rise of intellectualism seems to be a good thing, at first glance. Surprising advances have been made in the sciences, and the understanding of our physical world. The cultivation of the human intellect seems to be—and I would argue, for the most part, is—a magnificent ideal. This is only true however, if the pursuit if intellectualism does not rob a culture of its willingness—even its longing for the pursuit of—to pursue action for the furtherance of its ideals and the protection of its values.

The most damnable result of the rise of intellectualism however, is the growth within the collective psyche of a people, that the human brain can solve all the perceived problems of the world. The reality of the human experience over the last 40,000 years rather clearly illustrates that, in order for any human cultural activity to succeed, some form of community must be engaged in an actual effort towards the completion of that goal. The idealistic naivete of the idea that “reason always wins,” and mental cleverness alone can resolve all problems, without physical effort, falls flat as soon as a foe is met who is willing to stop talking, and start chopping the heads off the intellectuals.

We see this in our contemporary world, as the intelligentsia of the West looks for ways to reason with the Islamo-Fascism of extremist Mohammedism. We look for ways to appease the soldiers of the resurgent Caliphate, even as they are taking heads. We pontificate on some “moral high ground,” without being willing to accept that it was not the moral high ground that led to the ascendance of western cultural values in the world. It was the willingness to raze cities, and put heads on spikes, that allowed western culture to overtake the world. It was the willingness to firebomb and drop atomic bombs on cities that allowed American culture to overtake the world. We can sit in our comfortable, climate-controlled homes and offices, and worry about the “moral high ground” because our forebears were willing to take action. We can look back at history and believe we’re above all that, because we live in the Age of Intellect.

Before we can begin to recognize the impact of intellectualism on the Way of the Hero, we do need to concede that intelligence is not bad. Having the intelligence to understand the meanings of words, and to apply those words correctly, is important. Words have meanings. In order to avoid being pawns of The Narrative, we have to 1) understand those meanings, and 2) insist that those words are used, within the context of those meanings. Anyone who insists on misusing those words, or relying on “the generally accepted definition” is not worthy of wasting our own energy on debate.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary—which is, in my estimation—the final arbiter of meaning within the English language, intellectualism is defined as “the exercise of the intellect at the expense of the emotions.” In turn, intellect is defined as “the faculty of reasoning or understanding, objectively, especially with regard to abstract or academic matters.

Intellect is good. The ability to set emotion aside, and look at things objectively, as they are, rather than as we wish them to be, is critical to survival and life. It is not until we begin to consider the realities of human nature though, and the resulting expression of intellect, sans emotion, in our current socio-political climate, that we begin to see the deleterious effects.

Noam Chomsky, a prattering “social activist” intellectual of the worst sort, pointed out—in a rare moment of honesty—that “…intellectuals are specialists in defamation. They are basically political commissars, they are the ideological administrators, the most threatened by dissidence…” In Marxist philosophy, the social-class function of the intellectual, referred to by Marx and Engel as the “intelligentsia,” is to be the source of progressive ideals for the transformation of society, and to interpret the country’s politics to the masses, as well as to provide guidance and advice to the political leadership of the Party.

This is, ultimately, the problem with intellectualism, and its negative impact on our society’s view of the Way of the Hero. Thomas Sowell—who is by any objective measure, the definition of an intellectual—makes the case in his 2009 book, Intellectuals and Society, for a justifiable level of anti-intellectualism in the modern world, due to malfeasance in the educational system:

By encouraging, or even requiring, students to take stands where they have neither the knowledge nor the intellectual training to seriously examine complex issues, teachers promote the expression of unsubstantiated opinions, the venting of uninformed emotions, and the habit of acting on those opinions and emotions, while ignoring or dismissing opposing views, without having either the intellectual equipment or the personal equipment to weigh one view against another in any serious way.

It is critical to notice that Dr. Sowell is critical of a misplaced emphasis on unreasoned thought, not on the use of intellect. In fact, it is a call for a more disciplined intellectual rigor, requiring both the intellectual tools of critical thinking, and the empiricism of life experience, for decision-making on where an individual stands in regard to complex issues. This distinguishes intelligence (good) from intellectualism (bad). As Thucydides famously reminded us in History of the Pelopennesian Wars, “…the society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting by fools.

The academic who has never tasted the copper-mouthed sensation of life-and-death fear, as he watches muzzle flashes downrange, or watches someone charging him, with fists clenched around the haft of a cold steel blade, or has never watched the blood flowing out of someone that he knows and loves, lacks the real life experience to genuinely understand, at a visceral, human level, the warrior past of our human heritage. On the opposite side of the same coin however, the warrior—no matter how blooded in battle—without an intellectual understanding of the human past, can never really begin to understand the strategic social implications of the combat in which he took part. He is forced to accept the explanations of his leaders. For our tribes to thrive, there must be a balance sought between the intellect and the instinct.

The balance must be sought between the intellect and the instinct.

The folklore and legends of the past—the tales of our heroes—are the epic oral traditions that form the beginning of the foundations of the study of history. They are—first and foremost—bellicose. If Achilles had been content to sit in a classroom and debate the merits of Lacedaemonian militaristic social structures, versus Athenian democracy, would anyone really remember him? Has Brad Pitt ever starred in the movie portrayal of Socrates? (For the record, for those readers whose entire view of it is based on a shitty comic book-turned-movie, Lacedeamonia was the actual name of the city-state we refer to as Sparta.)

Until the rise of Marxist intellectualism in the 20th Century, historiography was largely nothing more than the study of conflict and wars, and—occasionally—the social and political catalysts for both. History is the study only of the written accounts of the past, and writing is a social communications device limited—by definition—to civilized societies. For this reason, the history of the world has been limited by the prejudices and cultural cognitive biases of civilized historians. While particularly prevalent in the Marxist-dominated intelligentsia of the 20th Century, even previously, this has led to a discrediting of the value of myth and legend in the telling of the human experience.

Even Herodotus, “The Father of History,” recorded legends and fanciful tales, explaining himself with the fact that he only recorded what he’d been told, in order “to prevent the traces of human events from being erased by time, and to preserve the fame of the important remarkable achievements produced by both Greeks and non-Greeks.” Herodotus understood the importance of history and knowledge, but he also understood that myth is history, told better.

Recognizing the existence of cultural biases of historians, we are forced to acknowledge, within historiography, valid, unbiased observations of the significant majority of the general human experience of the past, in the form of preliterate cultures, including many of those that our most cherished cultural values and traditions derive from. This leaves us with a limited number of options for studying much of the past, and how humans have survived outside of the civilized nation-state construct.

In the first, we can turn to the ethnographic observation of the acknowledged biased studies of civilized observers, like the legendary Roman historian Tacitus. In the second, we can turn to the relatively modern study of anthropology. These two allow us to look at what were and are preliterate societies, as they existed alongside civilization, both in the past, and in the present. Through critical thinking and comparison of these two, we can often deduce valuable lessons for our intentional tribes. While some intellectuals argue that the access of modern preliterate cultures, to modern technology and cultural values through even limited contacts like trade and the presence of anthropologists in their midst creates an artificiality to the study, this argument overlooks the fact that even our preliterate barbarian ancestors had contact and trade with their civilized society neighbors. If not, we’d know nothing of them, for lack of written record. Anthropology and ethnography does have limitations—mostly in the educated biases of the recording writers—but it does offer one of the most valuable options for comparison.

In the third option, we can rely on a study of the myths and legends of the past, handed down through the biased lenses of historians, When coupled with the study of the archaeological evidence available, and the intellectual rigor of solid, objective critical thinking, we gain a great deal of value. The greatest drawback to this route however, is that internalizing the understanding of the myths and legends handed down to us from the past requires overcoming the influences of the biases and belief systems of the civilized scribes—generally non-believers of the myths they recorded—that first put them down in ink.

Ultimately, the only way for this method to have value to us is for the modern interpreter, retelling the legends, to have a legitimate, experiential frame-of-reference in the subject matter of the myth or legend. An academic who has never been in even a schoolyard fistfight, has no legitimate frame-of-reference for interpreting the legends of a mythic warrior’s actions, when considered objectively. This doesn’t mean he can’t gain value from the legend, or pass on lessons to others, based on that legend. It simply means that often, the most valuable, more nuanced lessons, will go unremarked, because the teller lacks the experience to recognize their import.

There needs to be, in the distillation of experience that forms the shared traditions and value of our intentional tribes, a balance between pure reason and intellect, and the more gut-level intuition that can only be developed through the experience of living life. We have, in the western cultural tradition, numerous examples illustrating a perfectly valid alternative to the “real” history of academia, all of which illustrate our cultural values far better. They are the mythic histories beloved of all people, except the intellectuals who possess a vested interest in maintaining the myth of the intellect over the instinct of action.

In the Hellenic tradition, we have the great Homeric epics, including the Illiad and the Odyssey. We have the teachings of Socrates, first expressed in writing by Xenophon, Aristophanes, and—most famously—Plato and Aristotle. None of these stories can be considered strictly historical. Intellectuals would insist on referring to them as “legends,” since they lack any evidence beyond second-hand stories. There is little or no archaeological evidence that the characters in Homer’s epics—or even Socrates as an actual person—ever actually existed, beyond the stories. Rather, these are the mythic histories of the classical Hellenes. They portray the preliterate ancestry of the classical Greeks, in the way the classical Greeks wanted to believe that their ancestors existed (if you haven’t figured it out yet, that last clause in that last sentence is the critical point of this article).

To the North, we have—at a much, much later date—the same types of mythic histories, in the form of the Norse and Icelandic sagas, and epic poems like Beowulf in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, and the Nibelunglied in the German. These too are the mythic histories of the respective cultures, forming a portrait of the preliterate ancestors as either the Christian scribes that put ink to parchment, or the individuals who passed the tales on to the scribes, wanted their ancestors to have been.

It is popular among the intelligentsia to discredit the accuracy of the sagas and epics, precisely because they were written down long after the times they are credited with having occurred, by Christian scribes with an entirely different cultural bias than the subjects of the myths. Some of the legends inherent to the mythic histories, of course, are beyond the belief of rational, critical thinking, to our minds. Is it creditable that Achilles really was impervious to all wounds, except to the back of his ankle? Could Ragnar Lothbrok really have accomplished all the things he is credited with? Is it creditable that Siegfried—or Beowulf, for that matter—actually slayed a dragon? Perhaps not, at least from a rational, scientific point-of-view.

The most common course-of-action then, has been to attempt to explain these myths in more scientifically plausible ways. Achilles was not really “blessed of the gods.” He was just supremely gifted—or inordinately lucky—or he was an early pioneer of social engineering, and managed to induce a mass hysteria that affected all who confronted him so that none of them actually ever tried to actually kill him, because of the legends he spread about his own birth.

Ragnar Lothbrok was really a composite of a number of minor warlords, blended together in legend, to create a fictional character worthy of the origin myths of a strong, proud, national and cultural identity. The dragon foes of Siegfried and Beowulf were metaphors like the “snakes” that Saint Patrick drove from Ireland during the conversion era, or they were just made up, whole cloth, by the original poets, long before their tales were written down.

While this urge makes sense from an academic standpoint, where everything has to have a rational, plausible explanation, it does a great disservice not only to the men who possessed the original foresight to record the legends for the future, but to the rest of mankind as well. The fact is, mythic history is just as important—more important, I would argue—than actual history, to the cultural identity and history of a people. We “know” for example, that—despite the cultural cognitive biases of the Chinese—the Middle Kingdom has seldom been a single cultural and political entity. Instead, while certain dynasties have held the imperial throne, the vast majority of China, even as late as the early 20th Century, was actually a broken, scattered composite of minor fiefdoms, ruled by fiercely independent local warlords who may—or may not—have offered token fealty to the empire, whole practicably retaining total autonomy. Despite this though, the mythic history of the Middle Kingdom has been critical to the ethnic and cultural identity of many people of Chinese descent, around the world.

The same is true of the value of the Homeric epics, the teachings credited to Socrates, and even the sagas and epics of the North, for western cultural values. Our own national founders, raised with classical educations, knew the mythic histories of North and South, and accepted them—if not as actual history—as an important cultural myth, forming a significant portion of the better foundations of their own—and our own—culture. Myth really is history, told better, and myth is as important to the identity of a culture, as actual history.

So, what does this mean, in the context of trying to form intentional tribes for survival of the decline of empire? Where can we apply these lessons as praxis?

Number One, we need to begin creating a shared mythic history of our tribe. This need not be all mythic of course. Within our own cultural traditions and history, there are ample stories of seemingly superhuman feats and achievements. The problem is, if your children are publicly educated, they will no longer hear of the feats of men like Nathan Hale, Francis Marion, and Paul Revere. They won’t hear of a young JEB Stuart, not even 16 yet, when he blew a highwayman out of the saddle with his grandfather’s blunderbuss, loaded with powder and gravel. They won’t hear of the “stooges if the colonialist imperialists” that fought in the China-Burma-India theatre as Merrill’s Marauders. They probably won’t even hear of the actual mythic legends like Ragnar Lothbrok, Egil Skallgrimmsson, Achilles, Hector, and Odysseus. It’s a given that they won’t hear the stories of heroes like David and Joshua and Daniel…

More than just knowing these tales, we need to TELL these tales. Whether your own children, the children of your family, or the children of your intentional tribe, our young people need to hear and learn the mythic history of their people. If your tribe has monthly or weekly training drills, or even just meetings, someone should be entertainer enough to tell these stories in a way that keeps the young mesmerized, and away from the television and iPads and computers. Even the adults in your groups may be unfamiliar with the lessons of these myths.

The stories need not be of legends either. Their are ample tales of heroism, of life and health sacrificed for the good of one’s own people, one’s tribe, all around us. From the stories of Medal of Honor winners, to modern soldiers in combat, to firefighters and police officers, to normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill, suburban soccer moms and dads running to the—literal or figurative—sounds of the guns. The goal is not to simply recite stories. The goal is to create a tribal tradition that values heroism and The Way of the Hero, to counter and overcome the rise of the Age of Mediocrity.

Even more than living and telling these tales, we need to begin to relive the lessons of these tales. Among the excerpts that I prefaced this article with, was one from Christopher McDougall’s book Natural Born Heroes:

For much of human history, the art of the hero wasn’t left up to chance…the hero’s skills were studied, practiced, and perfected, then passed along from parent to child and teacher to student. The art of the hero wasn’t about being brave; it was about being so competent that bravery wasn’t an issue. You weren’t supposed to go down for a good cause; the goal was to figure out a way not to go down at all. Achilles and Odysseus and the rest of the classical heroes hated the thought of dying and scratched for every second of life. A hero’s one crack at immortality was to be remembered as a champion, and champions don’t die dumb. It all hinged on the ability to unleash the tremendous resources of strength, endurance, and agility that many people don’t realize they already have.

It is not just ourselves that we train for. It is not for my own ego that I go out into my backyard gym and throw heavy iron barbells and kettlebells around. It’s not for my own aggrandizement that I run sprint intervals, or take long, fast hikes through the forested mountains, over broken terrain, with heavy packs on. It’s not even for the survival of my children. My children are with us, watching us, as my wife and I do our daily PT. They see us doing it, every day, rain or shine, good health or ill, and they learn, from our example, the Way of the Hero; of being prepared. They learn the message of being “so competent that bravery isn’t an issue.”

My children have been given rubber training knives in lieu of teething rings. They have had bedtime stories of the ancient myths and legends, and their lullabies have been songs of battle and strife and good overcoming evil through skill and will.

We need to live the Way of the Hero, not so much for ourselves, as for our children, that they might learn these lessons, to pass on to their children, that the values of the tribe will live on. Ultimately, it’s a given that we’re all going to die. I’m well into middle-age. If I’m not at the halfway point of the modern human lifespan, I’m pushing it closely. I make no claims to physical immortality. I strive to ensure the survival not of myself, but of my kith and kin. They garner the benefit of the struggle to live the Way of the Hero, because it gives them a moral exemplar to strive for.

Sacrifice is something that is often talked about, but seldom really discussed in detail. This is too bad, because really, the Way of the Hero is Sacrifice. Sacrifice is a gift exchange—a barter if you will—with the divine. When we offer a sacrifice, regardless of our personal belief system, and regardless of the sacrifice offered—prayer, blood, or other—we are offering the gods a gift. In exchange for that gift, we are hoping that, when we need it, they will offer us something in return. Training is sacrifice of the self. When you train, you are offering your time, your sweat, your effort, and occasionally, your blood, to the divine. In return, you are asking that—when you need it—the skill developed by that training, will be given to you by the gods, that you will be able to do what you need to do.

When approached this way, it makes training a tribal value—again, regardless of belief system or religion of the tribe. Sacred things are those things that have been marked off and set aside from the profane space of the world, separated from the mundane of every day objects and activities, and from profane time by being linked to the eternity of the divine. Our training becomes a sacred tribal tradition and value of we “set it side,” and treat it as “holy,” or “consecrated.” We make it special by making it ritual. Would you let daily life interfere with your prayers? Would you let your job interfere with your family time? Make training a ritual of importance, and dive into the Way of the Hero. If it’s appropriate to your belief system, open and close your training with prayer, to set it aside from the mundane on either side of it. Make it “holy” by incorporating “scriptures” of the stories of the heroes of your traditions into it. One thing I try to do in every class is tell stories that are relevant to the class, at that moment, of men I’ve known, or people known by people I’ve known, who have done amazing things, relevant to that lesson. Stories drive home the lessons we are trying to impart, just like a particular religious parable or legend can drive home the lesson of a sermon.

That, ultimately, is the value of the Hero. Not to live forever. It is to give us an example of behavior to strive for. I am not Achilles. I am not Hector. I am not Arminius. I am not Ragnar. I am not Joshua or David or Daniel. I am John, but I can strive to be LIKE all of those men, and in the struggle, I am better, and my tribe is better.


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