By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts
Your Line in the Sand Part 1
You could ask me a hundred questions about strategy and tactics and I could probably answer each one in the most logical and accurate manner with just two words “it depends!” Once this fact has been set down it becomes very clear that “the line in the sand” (the point where you are willing to use lethal force) is not the most correct way to look at a tactical situation. “Your line in the sand” is the only way that tactical scenarios can be looked at in a well thought out, well researched, and well-educated manner. The situation is the dictating factor and the biggest factor inside of the situation is YOU. It is the situation and who you are that needs to be taken into consideration when you look to develop your very personal line in the sand.
When we look at all of the varying state laws across this country, it becomes very clear that a guy from Texas cannot tell a guy from California where his line in the sand should be. A guy who lives alone, with no wife or kids cannot tell a family man where his line in the sand should be. A person with extremely advanced training and a ton of experience cannot tell a person with virtually no training or experience what his line in the sand should be. A person that has an overwhelming desire to always do what they believe to be “right” cannot tell a person that has a different perspective on “right” where his line in the sand should be. Yet, we see that all of the time on the gun forums. Some people may feel that they must fight evil every time they see it, while another, just as righteous of a man, may feel that “discretion is the better part of valor” makes more sense for his ability to continue to take care of his loved ones and fight evil for the long run.
Having been on gun forums since 2001, it still amazes me when I see people forcing their feeling and beliefs of tactical situations on others, as if they are the only ones that are right and everyone else is wrong. This is either a stance that is contorted by ignorance or by arrogance. If the situation is the dictating factor (and it is) and the individual is the largest factor inside of that situation (and they are) then it is clear to me that no person has the right, or the ability to adequately judge another man’s “line in the sand.” Until you are standing in his shoes, knowing everything that he knows, you have no clue what perspective he is coming from, you have no idea why he has made the decisions that he has made. His very personal line in the sand is as foreign to you has Ancient Hebrew.
Recently, I read a comment that there seemed to be “no consistency” in my teachings when it comes to “the line in the sand.” The problem is not that there is no consistency, the problem is that there is no easy answer, due to the fact that it is all situational and all very personalized to the person inside of the situation. This means that there is no perfect formula for the perfect line in the sand. That is not a reality! Cementing your line in the sand takes work, time, effort, and thought. Even if you do everything right in preparing your line it can all go very wrong. Fighting evil, especially all by yourself as a lone civilian, is very dangerous stuff that is fraught with risk and danger, not just to yourself, but to your loved ones, your freedom, and your financial security. I am not telling you to not take the risks, I am telling you to put in the work, train, research, and learn as much as you can so that “your line in the sand” is as solid as you can possibly make it. This is “YOUR” line in the sand, make it yours! Take ownership of it, because when it is all said and done these are the decisions that you may live with for the rest of your life (possibly, very short life.)
Be very careful about listening to the two extreme points of view on each side of this debate. Remember you will be the only one looking at yourself in the mirror. You can screw your life up by doing way too little and by doing way too much. Use your head! This is not a black or white topic! There are many shades of grey! Moderation, preparedness, and thoughtfulness will do more for you than extremism, bravado, or cowardice.
We need to accept the fact that there are very good men willing to put everything on the line to do the right thing……and they are mentally and physically prepared to do so. By the same token, we often see people with zero experience who fantasize about becoming a hero that are not prepared in any way whatsoever. Both groups may preach a “holy than thou” sermon to those that may use more discretion. The biggest problem is that unless we know the men personally it is hard to tell which group they are preaching from. We can call these guys “The Righteous Fighters.” There is nothing wrong with being one of these guys if you have what it takes to actually be one of these guys…….nothing wrong with that at all. Heck, it is their life and they have made their decisions. We often see guys like this in the Military or Law Enforcement, but it is not exclusive to those lines of work. As many of you know, there are many civilians that have what it takes to be one of these guys. It is also a fact that there are plenty of “Want to be Righteous Fighters” that do not have what it takes and take a stance on this subject that they have no right to take. They are not prepared, they have not thought it through, they have neither the experience or the physical/mental make up to preach about something that is well beyond them.
It does not matter whether you are a “Righteous Fighter” or a “Want to be” it is wrong for you to assume that the decisions that you make are better than those that use more discretion.
“What is your mission?” is a question that is as personalized as it gets. A man who feels the need to fight evil, and does so, is not better than a man who feels the need to fight evil, but has to constantly try to control his need in order to fulfill his mission. There is more than one way to fight evil! You can fight it head on, without any restraint, and in a possibly short-term manner. You can also fight evil in a more discretionary manner that allows you to fulfill your mission and possibly fight it for the long-term. Both groups of men are good men, just with a different mission to fulfill.
When we talk about discretion and fulfilling the mission, we are most likely talking about a good man’s desire to provide for his family. A good man provides many things to his family that goes well beyond finances and security. The absolute need that the family has to have a good man around needs to be part of the equation when it comes to understanding your need to do the right thing. What is the right thing in your eyes may be very different from what the right thing is for your family and in your loved ones eyes. This understanding and willingness to compromise your need to fight evil, in order to take care of your loved ones for the long-term is a very honorable and admirable thing to find in a person. To think that there is no honor in this type of thinking, preparation, and understanding is the sign of somebody that has not experienced what it is like to grow up without a father, it is the sign of ignorance of a reality that many know to be as real as anything can ever be. When you see “me and mine” written out when it comes to the line in the sand, unless you are standing in that man’s shoes and know his reality you have zero right to be the judge of it.
We are all creations of our experience and our experiences will guide our decisions. I have been “The Righteous Fighter” and I can tell you that it can be a tough row to hoe. In my eyes, I was already dead, I had nothing to lose, and nothing to care about. That is not my world anymore! I am still the same man, but my perspective has changed. My experiences have made me wiser, my family has shown me that I am not already dead and that I do have plenty to live for. I will still fight evil, but I will do it for the long haul, using experience, knowledge, training, ability, and the understanding that one battle is not the war. The war on evil has many battles, from many fronts.
Use your head and choose wisely!