0052 Impossible Rules of Engagement MP3
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Impossible Rules of Engagement
by Ben Stone
When I was very young I was taught a confusing and contradictory set of rules about fighting. My father’s number one rule was for me to never throw the first punch. But my father’s other number one rule was to never let anyone push me around or “lay a rough hand” on me. And my father’s other, other number one rule was for me to never be the one who starts a fight but always be the one who finishes it. And above and beyond everything else, my father taught me to never be a bully but never submit to a bully. So in actual conflicts I could not allow myself to be bullied, pushed around, or aggressively handled, but I wasn’t allowed to strike first and it was required of me to win every physical conflict. This is an impossible standard. Tactically speaking, it simply can’t work. If I am never to throw the first punch, what am I to do while my opponent is bullying, pushing and manhandling me?
My mother would try to help me with the advice that I should use words to diffuse conflicts. The problem with that was that when I was around anyone other than family I was slow of speech and was a borderline stutter. To make matters worse, I was considerably larger than the average boy my age and we almost never lived in the same place for more than a year or two, which meant I was always the new kid. So I was a bully magnet attracting every little junior thug who had something to prove.
Even though I was almost always the youngest in my class, public school teachers would take one look at my size and my speech and, without bothering to check my records, would assume I was a problem student who had been held back a grade or two. This usually made matters worse since very often the class bully was also the teacher’s pet, as the teachers were completely out of touch with what was actually going on in their classrooms and on the playground. So no matter who started a conflict I was always singled out to carry the blame. At times I wasn’t even involved in the fight and yet somehow the teacher would snatch me out of the crowd and I would be the one in the principal’s office. I learned it was better to sit quietly and accept punishment than try to explain the situation and get punished anyway.
At home I was constantly “rough-housing” with my brother who was twelve years my senior. We watched the fake “wrestling” on TV and practiced the moves almost daily. When I was 5 years old my brother started a rigorous exercise routine to prepare himself for entry into the US Marines, so I was right there by his side doing hundreds of push-ups and thousands of sit-ups. By the age of 6, I was probably the only 2nd grader in the San Jose Public School System with washboard abs who could do one handed pull-ups and double-clap push-ups.
Humans are amazingly adaptable creatures. Given the impossible task of dealing with stupid teachers, aggressive bullies, and impossible rules of engagement, I developed a sort of informal martial art. Utilizing wrestling moves along with my superior physical condition and size, as soon as a bully started his routine I would either sweep his feet or grapple him to the ground, quickly throwing him into a chokehold. Then I would await the inevitable authority figure to break things up and punish me. This solution fulfilled all of the requirements my father had placed upon me, as I didn’t strike my opponent, and it served to humiliate the bully. Sure, I always got punished when a teacher or some other tax eater arrived, but I was being punished either way so that didn’t matter.
That policy served me well through most of my school years, but with time I could see some adjustments were needed. For example, I was with some friends at a baseball game cheering for my cousin and his team, when fans of the opposing team decided to teach us that their town was far better than our town. They began throwing rocks at us. Being the largest male in our group, it was my task to challenge the lead rock thrower. But as I marched up to him, and before I could grab him or sweep his feet, he punched me in the nose. Three times. Choking, spitting blood, and momentarily unable to see, I was filled with rage and lunged at my opponent. He wisely ran, jumped on a bicycle and took off across the parking lot. So the lesson learned was that a fist has both a speed and a reach advantage to a grappling move. And an upper body strike can happen faster than a leg sweep. So I decided to never again allow anyone the opportunity to strike me first. That was the last time a fist touched my head. I adopted the same opinion of my father’s rules as I had of the school’s rules. And once I developed my hand speed, I settled on a new tactic. As soon as my opponent was within range, I would feign a punch by slightly jerking my left hand, causing him to raise his hands defensively. Anyone not seeing my left hand move would assume he was taking a fighting stance. At that point I would deliver a quick right hook followed by a flurry of punches, finishing the fight and usually rendering my opponent either unconscious or bleeding so badly he had no heart to continue. In addition, I learned to hurt my opponent as quickly and as severely as possible so that he would never again want to face me. As a young adult, this new policy worked well when the police would show up since witnesses would generally agree that I was simply defending myself.
This is the part of the article where I’m suppose to tie this all together with something relevant that my reader can apply to their life today. Otherwise it just gets classified as the ramblings of an old fat man remembering his glory days. I hope I can pull this off, as I actually have two points I want to make.
Let’s start by looking at my father and his rules of engagement. You see, my father had several strengths and only a few weaknesses. As a child, he taught himself to read at the age of four, by looking at newspaper comics. By the age of 12 he decided school had nothing more to offer so he quit. That year his family bought their first automobile, a Ford Model-T truck. He wanted to see what made it work, so he disassembled and reassembled the engine. In one day. At the age of 14 he left home to see what adventures life had available for him. He began moving from place to place and from job to job. As an adult he was a brilliant inventor, engineer, mechanic, and tinkerer. In his minds eye he could look inside a machine and imagine all its parts as they performed their symphony, and with almost magical ability he could fix or improve almost anything that man had created. Given a task that no machine had been built to do, my dad would retreat to his shop and conjure a device perfect for the job. However, life was not easy for my father. As a boy my dad suffered a horrible accident. At the age of 9 he lost most of his left hand and fingers, leaving him a stub almost resembling a pigs foot. So credit his superior intellect, his silver tongue, or pity for his disfigurement, throughout his life he never actually fought an actual fistfight. You can see then that his rules of engagement were strictly theoretical and terribly flawed.
I would compare my father’s judgment on personal combat to those rules of engagement laid upon members of the US Military by both the clueless civilian population and the chicken hawks that hold the reins of power in Washington DC. American warriors are given an absolutely impossible task and are expected to accomplish this task by engaging in behavior detrimental to their success, all the while the State Department seems to do everything it can possibly do to get the US Military involved in as many countries as possible by constantly provoking more aggression.
Wise economists of the Austrian School of Though say all this war mongering is happening because the idiots in Washington believe the old superstition that war is good for the economy. So they use the fear and ignorance of the public to whip the nation into a froth over this threat or that, whatever or whoever the devil of the day needs to be to feed the flames of war. I have no doubt the economists are right as far as their theory goes, but I see a more sinister evil driving the State than mere stupidity.
Without getting into yet another attack on the State and its need for constant war, let me say something far simpler that I believe to be true. Free people need warriors, but war itself should be the last resort and not entered into unless you are willing to unleash your warriors to do their art, unhampered by the rules of polite society. War should never be a tool of government to accomplish some end result. War should be brief and brutal, eliminating a threat with extreme measures. The old saying “Cry Havoc! And let slip the Dogs of War!” holds within it a principle. If there is an actual threat, have at it with every once of your being and crush that threat. But when you use superior strength and technology to intimidate other nations into behaving the way you want them to behave you are simply being a bullying and you should be crushed.
My second point is a bit different. It has to do with the left-handed flinch that I mentioned and how I used it to draw a reaction from my opponent, therefore justifying the follow-through right hook. I did this move as a form of protection from authority. I could justify sending my opponent to the hospital by witnesses agreeing that I was not the aggressor. I could have followed my father’s rules and allowed him to hit me first, but after experiencing that once I decided I didn’t like the result. But the State has no such pain mechanism to teach it new behavior. So it continues sticking its nose out there asking for someone to punch it. And when it has stuck its nose in enough places, someone always punches it. Except when this happens it’s not the State that bleeds because the State has no blood of its own. When the State provokes action, people bleed. People like the ones on board the RMS Lusitania on May 7th, 1915, or the ones who happened to be in the wrong place on December 7th, 1941, or September 11, 2001. But again, the State has no pain mechanism so it has no reason to change its behavior.
So Washington DC continues to provoke war, while binding its warriors, never learning and always expanding. Answering to no one as it has its way with weaker nations.