Violence is rarely the answer to a problem, but when it is the answer, it is the only answer.
If you must resort to violence, you have already lost.
How can both of these two statements, which most of us know instinctively to be true, be true?
Men are complex, men are simple. We are full of contradictions and we are born inconsistent, irrational and prey to our appetites, which can be disordered. We are emotional. Because of all these factors, we must govern ourselves by reason and perfect discipline. In fact, at Authentic Masculinity we teach that The Prime Directive for every man must always be, “I will not lose my temper.” When we lose our tempers, we put ourselves and everyone around us at risk. If you can’t command yourself, you have no privilege to command anyone else. If you can conquer and command yourself, you have conquered a kingdom. It’s the first step to a fulfilling life.
It follows, then, that in all relationships between men there is the undertone of violence and a constantly shifting dominance hierarchy. It doesn’t mean every man thinks he must defeat every man, but it does mean the threat is there, at least initially. It usually works itself out pretty quickly. If the threat of physical violence is displaced, the next value to assess is the role of respect. If violence is displaced and respect is absent, there arises the threat of a kind of intellectual violence. If a man realizes he cannot best his opponent physically, a certain kind of man will reason through how to best his opponents, his colleagues, even his friends, intellectually. It can be serious fun as long as respect is present. If respect is lost it can be regained or may never be regained. It can turn—go high and to the right—with explosive intensity and suddenness.
A man may reason through how to team with men he respects so that they both win, they all win, and that is complex and based on mutually agreed upon values. We form subtle, hidden alliances and we work together to the advantage of all who are aware the game is being played. And the game is always being played, gentlemen, whether you know it or not.
This is why wise men are always polite. The stronger you are, the more polite you can afford to be.
The wise man, the sophisticated man, learns through experience and example to use his accumulated confidence and awareness of violence and threats of violence, intimidation and the hint of intimidation to his advantage with increasing effectiveness over his lifetime. The most elegant and confident man knows how to communicate seriousness of intent with just an edge, just a carefully presented suggestion of threat so that he can move up and down the spectrum of confrontation in any situation, whether it is the boardroom, the bar room, the parking lot or even behind the wheel, believe it or not, successfully and always under control so that physical violence is not necessary. It is a wonderful thing to manage a situation up to the brink and then manage it back down successfully so you both win or perhaps only one of you wins. The ultimate satisfaction is do this again and again under varying degrees of complexity, risk, reward, advantage over a series of experiences and a long life.
In American culture the archetypal example of violence between men is the gunfight. So, as a brief, enjoyable introduction to this fascinating dynamic, we invite you to enjoy the following Rules for a Gunfight. I have made some minor edits for our use here at Authentic Masculinity. I’ll let you do your own research to find its origin. My personal favorite is Number 21.
30 Rules for a Gunfight
1. Forget about knives, bats and fists. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns. Bring four times the ammunition you think you could ever need.
2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammunition is cheap – life is expensive. If you shoot inside, buckshot is your friend. A new wall is cheap – funerals are expensive.
3. Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.
4. If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough or using cover correctly.
5. Move away from your attacker and go to cover. Distance is your friend. (Bulletproof cover and diagonal or lateral movement are preferred.)
6. If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a semi or full-automatic long gun and a friend with a long gun.
7. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
8. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading, and running. Yell “Fire!” Why “Fire”? Cops will come with the Fire Department, sirens often scare off the bad guys, or at least cause them to lose concentration and will…. and who is going to summon help if you yell “Intruder,” “Glock” or “Winchester?”
9. Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting standards will be more dependent on “pucker factor” than the inherent accuracy of the gun.
10. Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.
11. Always cheat, always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
12. Have a plan.
13. Have a back-up plan, because the first one won’t work. “No battle plan ever survives 10 seconds past first contact with an enemy.”
14. Use cover or concealment as much as possible, but remember, sheetrock walls and the like stop nothing but your pulse when bullets tear through them.
15. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
16. Don’t drop your guard.
17. Always tactical load and threat scan 360 degrees. Practice reloading one-handed and off-hand shooting. That’s how you live if hit in your “good” side.
18. Watch their hands. Hands kill. Smiles, frowns and other facial expressions don’t (In God we trust. Everyone else keep your hands where I can see them.).
19. Decide NOW to always be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.
20. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.
21. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet if necessary, because they may want to kill you.
22. Be courteous to everyone, overly friendly to no one.
23. Your number one option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.
24. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with anything smaller than “4”.
25. Use a gun that works EVERY TIME. “All skill is in vain when an Angel blows the powder from the flintlock of your musket.” At a practice session, throw you gun into the mud, then make sure it still works. You can clean it later.
26. Practice shooting in the dark, with someone shouting at you, when out of breath, etc.
27. Regardless of whether justified of not, you will feel sad about killing another human being. It is better to be sad than to be room temperature.
28. The only thing you EVER say afterwards is, “He said he was going to kill me. I believed him. I’m sorry, Officer, but I’m very upset now. I can’t say anything more. Please speak with my attorney.”
29. Never be unarmed.
30. If you have your hands, your feet, your mind and your self-respect as a man, you are never unarmed.
Remember, the objective is not to win the game. The objective is to win as many series of games as possible, learning as you go, in a full life of challenge, opportunity, risk and reward. But that is for other posts. For now, be bold, be authentic, be masculine.