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Skull-Stomping Sacred Cows: Weakness is Cowardice.

May 7, 2015

I see a lot of commentary from people, in comments here, on Facebook, and various sites across the blogosphere about their willingness to die on a hill. There is nothing inherently wrong with being willing to sacrifice yourself for the good of your tribe, or the values you hold dear. The problem is, most of the people proclaiming this willingness are completely, utterly, totally full of unmitigated bullshit.

Sacrifice, among other definitions, is most relevantly defined as “to give up something important or valued, for the sake of other considerations.” Self-sacrifice is defined as “giving up of one’s own interests or wishes in order to help others or to advance a cause.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, or with extending those definitions to the idea of dying for the greater good of the community. The problem arises when we look beyond the basic meanings of the words, into what the words actually mean—where they come from, and what they represent.

Sacrifice is from the Latin “sacrificium,” built of “sacra” meaning “sacred rites,” plus the root of “facere” meaning “to do.” So, a sacrifice is performing a sacred rite. Ultimately, a sacrifice is a means of exchange with the divine. It’s a barter arrangement. “I offer Thee this, and I ask Thee grant me that.” For Christians, of course, the ultimate expression of this was Jesus dying on Calvary. He died in exchange for the forgiveness of the sins of mortal men.

Even prayer is a form of sacrifice. You “give up” some of your time, to communicate with your deity. Dying on the hill, whether it is to give your friends time to escape from danger, or simply to reduce the danger to friends and family in the future, by killing as many cannibalistic San Franciscans as you can, before they get you, is the ultimate sacrifice you can give. It’s offering EVERYTHING you have, in exchange for the safety of your people. There’s nothing wrong with that. Hell, there’s probably nothing more noble than that (in my personal belief, there IS nothing more noble than that).

So, what’s the problem? Why the fuck is John talking shit again?

If you’re not willing to make the lesser sacrifices of training and preparation, you will not make the ultimate sacrifice. Period. Full-stop. End-of-story.

Training—whether it’s PT, handgun, rifle, combatives, patrolling, etc—is a form of sacrifice. You are giving up some of your time, that one thing in life we cannot get more of, and some of your comfort (at least, if you’re training validly), in the hope that, sometime in the future, when you need the attributes developed, that they will be there, and you will be favored with victory. Whether you believe in Yahweh, Odhinn, Zoroaster, or any other deity; or you believe in rational science, it’s all the same. If you make the sacrifice now, you hope you will be repaid your offering later.

Here’s the crutch though….if you’re unwilling to make small sacrifices now, you’re categorically NOT going to make the ultimate sacrifice later. You’re too much of a coward. That’s right. Weakness is cowardice. 18 or 80, thin or fat, whole or crippled, being weak (and no, for a change, I’m not just talking about PT here) is a choice. It’s a choice to follow the easy path. It’s a choice to abjure the discomfort and sacrifice of training, in favor of intellectual masturbation about the future you.

No one expects a 79 year old woman, suffering from osteoporosis to go squat 2x her body weight. No one expects her to run a Kalashnikov and perform a reconnaissance patrol. Chances are, you’re not a 79 year old woman suffering from osteoporosis. The level of ability that will be YOUR pinnacle will be influenced by age, sex, previous injuries and infirmities, and a host of other factors. Guess what though? ANYONE can be better than they are now. Your unwillingness to push yourself to new heights of achievement is a symptom of cowardice. It’s a fear of discomfort. It’s a fear of the unknown.

We spend a lot of time talking about the practical values and importance of training. Training is far more than that though. It’s MORE important than that. Training is about introspection. It’s about digging deep inside yourself, and finding the spirit of self-sacrifice within yourself. It’s about finding the part of you that is willing to give anything to protect the tribe. It’s not easy to find, despite the blustering machismo of too many mouth-breathing assholes. It is discovered at the moment of failure, in ANY training evolution, when you nut up and say, “fuck it, I’m not done yet!” and you drive on until you surpass failure.

If you’re not willing to go there; if you’re not willing to suffer, physically and mentally, to the point of failure—and then keep on suffering—you’re not going to sacrifice yourself.

So, if you’re the guy who claims, “I’m too XXXXX to train! I’ll just sit on a hill and take XXX number of ‘them’ with me?” You are full of shit. You are a coward. If you’re not willing to make small sacrifices NOW, you’re damned sure not going to make the ultimate sacrifice then.

There will be those who read this, that discredit it as “John is just spouting his typical elitist bullshit. He doesn’t understand that we’re not all former SOF guys!”

Those people are wrong. This isn’t about being SOF. This is about being human. Survival is about tribalism. Tribalism–both within tribes and between tribes–is about merit. That’s elitism and that’s okay. The only people who support egalitarianism are those that know–at some level–that they lack merit.”


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  1. “ANYONE can be better than they are now. Your unwillingness to push yourself to new heights of achievement is a symptom of cowardice. It’s a fear of discomfort. It’s a fear of the unknown.”

    The problem is far too many people are not willing to push themselves-although not everyone is a former Ranger-all of us should have had,at some point during our lives,an experience that required us to push ourselves far beyond what we though we were capable of-be it physical,mental,or emotional.
    Hell,I’ve had several experiences I would rather not have had-but I pushed myself to get through whatever it was at the time.

    “Weakness is cowardice.”
    “being weak (and no, for a change, I’m not just talking about PT here) is a choice. It’s a choice to follow the easy path. It’s a choice to abjure the discomfort and sacrifice of training, in favor of intellectual masturbation about the future you.”

    Most guys I’ve known for a long time-as in 20 years or more- have had to push themselves far beyond what they thought were their physical or mental,or emotional limits-of those guys-there’s a few who didn’t push themselves hard enough when they should have-they’re the guys who always have an excuse for everything-and are probably the ones on farcebook claiming they’re gonna be a super sniper and save everyone else from the advancing horde of cheese eaters, and the rest of the free shit army.
    Like some of the old folks say-today’s boys got too much quit in ’em.

    As usual,you hit the nail on the head with your skull stomping of yet more sacred cows-keep it up-hopefully you an change a few guys’ outlook on life.

  2. justanothergunnut permalink

    Isn’t tough love the most misunderstood? I fail all the time, but my brothers hold me to a standard. They don’t coddle me. They don’t lie to me because they care about me. Truth hurts suck it up and do what you need to do. John tells us what we need to hear . sometimes, We are full of shit .

  3. “Your unwillingness to push yourself to new heights of achievement is a symptom of cowardice. It’s a fear of discomfort.”
    Putting a little more meat on that bone, I can say that the discomfort can be physical, but it can also be mental –> fear of acknowledging that you suck. If you never push yourself to failure, you never truly know your mental/physical/skillset limits, and not really knowing those limits allows you to perpetuate your false self-notion of awesomeness. The true warrior pushes till he hits those limits because he NEEDS to know them – and when he finds them, he doesn’t sulk because he’s just found out that he sucks compared to his self-image, he acknowledges them and works to remediate them. In training, don’t be afraid to fail – be afraid to not fail, because that means you’re truly testing yourself and not just bullshitting yourself about how good you think you are. I say this because I’ve been there.

  4. Infidel permalink

    I propose a “mock the so called prophet Mohammad” challenge. Let’s draw these cowards out of hiding and deal with them accordingly. ~infidel III%

    • edited for anti-semitic nonsense rambling. (Take your “I’m special because of who my ancestors were” shit elsewhere. –J.M.)

  5. tfa-T permalink

    “when you nut up and say, “fuck it, I’m not done yet!” and you drive on until you surpass failure.”

    Or until you surpass “good enough” and achieve “excellence”.

    John, we who live by that code are few and far between. It’s great to read your blog again.

    • lineman permalink

      You able to get out of Michigan yet?

      • tfA-t permalink

        Sold the ball an chain. Still looking.

  6. frank brickey permalink

    Well written. Thank you.

  7. Squarepeg permalink

    Hey man-
    It’s good to read you back here. Just feels more right.
    Just got home from my biweekly jkd training. I started 7 months ago. I’m in there with guys that have been doing it for 15+ years, so every day I feel humbled. I’m progressing and getting better.
    When I first started, I wouldn’t feel like going because it made me feel uncoordinated and slow and stupid. If I let my ego get in the way I probably would have quit. I can’t imagine life w/o it now.
    I even substitute one of my s & c days every week for an extra session of heavy bag and skill development. Sometimes I’ll mix the two together- 20 push ups, get up and sprint 50 yards, 10 pull ups, sprint 50 yards, heavy bag for 4 mins. Or whatever, have fun with it. But do it, it only makes you better, you feel great after, it boosts testosterone and gives you confidence, relieves stress, blah, blah.
    I didn’t start where I’m today, it’s just next foot forward. Not all weeks are good, sometimes you walk away disappointed in effort or whatever, but the key is to just keep doing and you will improve.

    Sacrificing time to make yourself more useful and harder to kill should be paramount.

  8. ApoloDoc permalink

    Excellent post and great comments as well. Truly, few men really understand what their limits are as they do not do the hard work to approach their limits. Our merit-less society takes away competitive sports for kids so every kid gets a trophy for tiddly-winks. Competition in a physically demanding sport is a marvelous way for children to learn to push themselves harder. We can’t have that (as we don’t want anyone to excel after all!) so they remove sports from schools. If YOU push hard to achieve your best, that may not be “fair” to others who lack the ability and/or willingness to accomplish the same; you might hurt their widdle feelings.

    The destruction of our meritocracy feeds this trend. To buck the trend is EFFORTFUL! It is not comfortable much of the time. It downright HURTS! But ask yourself this: how many areas of life are truly satisfying when we don’t put in the effort? Drinking, drugging, eating, watching television, playing video games…these become the endpoint for so many lives in our current culture. Obviously it appears to be enough for the masses. Of course, the fallacy in that approach is that without more effort, those “effortless comforts” will be lost. There will BE NO FOOD TO EAT. Even fermenting and distilling corn-water require effort as liquor doesn’t grow on trees! The technology won’t be there either if/when the infrastructure crumbles.

    A short story by Kurt Vonnegut comes to mind: Harrison Bergeron. It is a marvelous dystopic view of a world where excellence and effort are punished…wow, I just googled the title (and the full text is available online and can be read in 20 min) and found an article just published this morning on National Review Online entitled “Inching towards Harrison Bergeron.” What is the antidote to this? Fight the trend, train hard, be the best possible “you” that you can. I can PROMISE that none of you realize how much you are capable of. You will never find out without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

    As we used to say when I was training obscenely hard to race bicycles: Pain is merely the sensation of weakness leaving the body!

    Now 5am is approaching, I have awakened my mind by reading and writing a bit. Now to awaken my body. I can see 60 y/o in the not-too-distant future and want to still be out there with those half my age. It won’t happen by magic. It is harder every day. It hurts. Sometimes I fail.

    But is there any other choice a real man can make?

  9. Centurion_Cornelius permalink


    “When you hit the PT “Brick Wall,” you just don’t stop,


    …1960s lernt from Mike Milkovich, Wrestling Coach of Champions,

  10. Well, I have put myself between a really crazy, pissed of (large) Chesapeake Bay retriever and my wife. I was bitten badly (missed that big vein in the crook of my arm by less than a half inch), wife found a place to hide in the laundry room (we were at a friends house and the dog took an instant dislike to me). Had to go to Balboa for stitches.

    Turns out the dog went after a couple other people too and they wound up putting it down.

    Lesson of this story is that you never really know what you’re going to do until you get into a “situation”. Okay, so I “manned up” and protected my wife. I didn’t “train” for that. It just instantly seemed like the right and proper thing to do.

    Oh, in case you’re military you will recognize Balboa as the Naval Hospital near San Diego.

    Yup, did 20 years on active duty and saw plenty of things that “normal” people shouldn’t have to see.

    But, I reiterate..bravado and tough talk is just plain bullshit. You don’t know what you will do until the time comes.

    Ragnar, out.

  11. Gun Bunny permalink

    John, good stuff!

    Another way to say this is, “If you can’t do the little things for me today, why should I believe you will do the big things for me tomorrow?” That goes for family and friends as well as military members. In a military unit, it’s not hard to spot during peace-time, who’s going to let you down during war-time.

    For example, if during an exercise the same people repeatedly rip off their gas mask and throw it across the room because they are “claustrophobic.”

    Life is pretty simple if you quit making it complicated.

  12. Ed Grouch, MD permalink

    I remember with some clarity, putting running shoes on feet that were still bleeding from the last run, and doing 12 miles at 7 minute pace. It was never about the physical effort or discomfort, but the mental. “So what if it hurts? It’s just pain.” And let’s not pretend that I was some kind of world class athlete.

    World class athletes are all essentially at the same place, physiologically speaking. The winners win, because they accept a greater amount of discomfort to achieve their goals. In other words, it’s a mental game at the top, and a mental game at the bottom.

    I agree (as if you needed my agreement) that there is a tight correlation between doing your duty when it is easy, and doing your duty when it is hard. Here’s to hoping I’m ready when the time comes.

  13. ZeeWulf permalink

    I worked myself pretty hard for several years after I left active duty, putting in at least an hour of PT in daily up until the last year or so.

    I got tired. Mentally, physically, emotionally I’d been so keyed up by watching what’s been happening (and efforts at home failing miserably over and over) that finally, I burned out. I began to desire the worst to happen so that I could just die on my hill already and stop caring about all this madness going on.

    I was never SF (though I’ve had the honor of working with them on occasion), just a backshops guy maintaining aircraft, a career I’ve continued now that I’m a civilian. Did I want to join the SF, do the awesome things they do? Hell yeah…but I knew I’m not cut out for them. But I also knew that I wanted to be prepared to make a difference here at home.

    But I’ve gotten tired. And I’m finding it very, very hard to motivate myself to do the physical work I need to be doing. Part of me wants to ask for help, suggestions, ideas to motivate me, but the other part of me hears the drill sergeant’s voice in the back of my head screaming “JUST GET OUT AND DO IT FATBOY!”

    • ZeeWulf permalink

      I left off the last line, there, after the DS’ voice.

      “But I still can’t seem to muster the energy to move past the exhausted apathy.”

      • Gun Bunny permalink

        This video series (link above) often gives me that extra boost of motivation I need to get moving.

        “6 Weeks in Green Hell” (French Foreign Legion Jungle School)

        Try it; can’t hurt.

    • Viper002_A22 permalink

      Finally an honest post on here!! This is “hand to God” the 1st and only comment I’ve read today on this page that wasn’t complete lies and BS internet bravado. Well done. And thank you for your service. The tip of the spear is useless without the staff thrusting it forward. Remember that.

  14. Swordsmyth permalink

    Excellent post once again. I see this all the time in those around me claiming the day the shtf they will do this or that. I remind them that if you aren’t doing it now you won’t be doing it later.

    There is no excuse for not training on some level. If your physically able train the body, if your confined to a wheelchair or disabled train the mind. There are many levels to training find one and see where your limits are.

    I have my folks who are both in their 80’s shooting an AR for the 1st time. They do what they can they don’t sit around waiting for someone else to do it for them. This generation has lost that.

    Those who do nothing fail at everything. I’m sick of this nation of “instant gratification mamby pambies!”

    Doer’s alone achieve!

  15. Diligencia Remumenor Fidelis – The Zengufighter’s motto.

    Training/Practice Rewards the Faithful

  16. Brother, good to read your message again. I hear your heading our way in Idaho. A good friend Dr. Bud is heading to your class, Treat him well. Oh ya, I will probably show up for my hug.
    love to the family, RangerRick, North Idaho.

  17. Rick permalink

    Tribe what tribe or hadn’t you noticed they’ve been disunited, dismantled and viciously pitted against each other and quite successfully at that.
    (Deleted the anti-Semitic horseshit. –JM)

  18. Rick permalink

    I doubt there is much left to defend, protect let alone invest in unless your very lucky!

  19. Shocktroop0351 permalink

    Want to know who is the bonafide “Patriot” and who isn’t? Go for a run.

  20. permalink

    Kaju is one of the sacrifice’s he is talking about.Richard Harter 

  21. Viper002_A22 permalink

    I don’t know if this was supposed to be a satire piece. . . Or if somebody has been drinking the proverbial “kool aid”, but the OP is probably the farthest thing from SOF I have ever encountered while claiming to be of some sort. Please tell me talk aren’t falling for these childlike ramblings of a delusional individual? And you know, if you would like to show me, I’ll gladly accept and we’ll verify through our foundations(if you’re really former SOF then you know who I’m talking about) your service history and standing in the community. But in my honest opinion, I’m going to wager that just by your mannerisms and the apparent lack of knowledge in appropriate lingo (I’m really dumbing it down here for you son), that not only have you never even SEEN any SOF veterans but you most certainly are not one. Further I’d wager that you have no military/combat experience whatsoever. Let me know when you’re ready to have THAT TALK junior. I’ll be right here.

  22. Daniel permalink

    “Which do you find more exhilarating, pain or pleasure? personally, I prefer pain”

  23. Mark Manney permalink

    Hmmm…So here is what this post brought up to my mind..,.

    I am closer to 70 then 60…the arthritis in my left hand making it more of a weak claw then the lightening deadly left jab it once was…chasing the jack’in chickens the other day at sunset I found myself out of breath and bent over gasping…when once upon a time I was one of the two boot Marines assigned to run around the platoon and hook my arms under others who were falling out encouraging them to finish. Siting in my M1A with open sites at 500 yards I couldn’t even see the target I once hit with bulls-eyes.

    So what have I done?

    Bought those leather gloves with no finger tips – they pull in and tighten my swollen crooked fingers and thumb and while shadow boxing and hitting the heavy bag the zap and snap is supported and still there! I don’t have the speed – but the power is still there and so is the grit.

    My full charge assault on line 100 yard dash may now be 50 yards…but I still squirt it out in the pastures to keep it possible and credible.

    Getting a scope I could never dream of back in the day for the M1A…my eyes may be weak but I’ll have technology and practice on my side.

    I almost died on a bunch of hills in 69…and behind a few paddy-dikes and in a couple of bunkers…once crossing a river. Who knows…the way the country/world is imploding the good Lord willing and if the creek continues to rise…maybe I’ll get to avoid the hospital/nursing home/hospice end game gasping desperation and go out like a child of the living God…with a sacrifice for others, in defense of all I hold to be holy, true and good, like a free – God fearing man…always being faithful.

    • …and that, boys and girls, is what we need. Not excuses, but sucking it up and working around issues.

      Thank you, Sir. Thank you.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mosby: Weakness Is Cowardice | Western Rifle Shooters Association
  2. Tactical Training by Max Velocity | MOSBY: Weakness is Cowardice

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