I’d like to be clear before starting this article…this is not in any way directed at society’s truly vulnerable and capability-challenged. The infirm, aged, with disability, sick or health-challenged, non-able-bodied, children, poor vs. grand-scale crime. This is directed at able-bodied, capable, fully-functional people that I run into daily.

I’ve talked previously about the myth of the sheepdog and the negative connotations, insult, and elitism it projects to regular society and civilians. So I’d like to explore this from the other perspective, the other side-of-the-coin, and the idea of “being” a sheepdog. I’d also like to make one other thing clear, I’m not a sheepdog. I’m not a superhero nor an avenging angel. I did not train, experience, research, study, learn, fight, evolve to protect all of society. I’m not out to keep everyone safe and protect the herd. It’s not my mission statement. Never was. Won’t be in the future. I realize that’s often a controversial take as most “average” people believe innately that others will always be there to protect them and that those with training (military, law enforcement, security, counter-violence specialists, etc.) are obligated to save their skin should something go wrong. I’m not one of those.

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I have trained for 25 years now psychologically, physically, emotionally, mentally, sociologically, anthropologically, hell, even spiritually….to keep myself, my family, and my loved ones safe. I suggest you do the same. Don’t rely on others for your personal safety. A police officer’s job is to enforce the law, not to protect the public. Security is there to protect the protocols, inventory, standards, interests, and smooth-running of the business and business-owners they’re being paid by. Military is there to serve the interests of their nation and, by that, that nation’s politicians, lawmakers, and decision-makers. Not to protect your personal protection needs. Your responsibility for your personal safety….are no one’s but your own.

Part of the big problem in society is that it’s denizens so often feel entitled, over-reliant, and obligated to receive protection from the interests of governments, corporations, and entities with a much different mission statement than their own. Uber-naive. What I’ve never understood is the constant expectation that I, because I’ve invested so much personal time on learning about conflict, violence, threat, and aggression, “should” be willing to throw my ass on the line for you because you haven’t. That, to me, is more than a little presumptuous. I took the heavily-invested time to become proficient in this field EXACTLY SO THAT I WOULDN’T HAVE TO RELY ON SOMEONE ELSE TO KEEP MYSELF AND MY FAMILY SAFE. I do not rely on public peace-officers, my local military-branch, the often untrained security-guard on the corner who’s praying that nothing happens that he/she’s not prepared for, my local martial-arts instructor that most times doesn’t train in any way for real violence for my own personal safety and protection. I rely on myself. Which is why I’ve been so attentive, studious, open, intense, functional, pragmatic of my own training. In fact, exactly for that reason. Which is not to say I may never need or accept help against overwhelming odds….but speaking for most general situations we may find ourselves in.

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AND my mission-statement at this point is crystal-clear. I will not throw my ass on the line for a total stranger, a situation I’m clueless about on context, inter-dynamics I’m unfamiliar with, or high-risk situations that will put my family, myself, my family’s long-term well-being, my family’s future ability to be provided-for…my dog…in-danger unnecessarily because I want fame, glory, or heroism. Or even to do the “right” thing if that “right” thing puts my wife or children in greater-danger…or takes me away from them…or can put me in legal hot-water….or have the “victim” turn on me, ad infinitum. There’s oftentimes an exorbitantly high cost for that. And if you haven’t taken the time and effort and foresight to take you and your family’s safety seriously….please explain to me why I “should.” To me, the “I know you and I know you’ll protect me” or “Darren’s here so we have a bodyguard” or “I trust he’d bail me out should shit-hit-the-fan” is you taking the easy road and being too lazy/ignorant/naive/oblivious/delusional/entitled/insert-appropriate-adjective-here to take the time yourself to learn and become proficient. It’s a fundamental right and life-skill. More so than voting. Freedom-of-speech. Questioning the powers-that-be. Being safe and being able to defend yourself is the number one right we have as humans in this world and that won’t change because of the Internet, social media, or technology. There may be other and diverse manners with which that right is implemented over time, but the right itself will remain. And it’s your responsibility. Period. Not mine.

I hate to state this in a way that will likely draw much criticism from the idealist crowd, but I’m a pragmatist. YOU. ARE. YOUR. OWN. FINAL. LINE. OF. DEFENSE. Nobody will forever be there to protect you and save your ass when things get sketchy. It is YOUR responsibility. YOUR obligation. YOUR necessity, even. Take it seriously. Go get training. Go gain experience. Go look at case-studies. Go assess your life, circumstances, and daily-risks. Go get in shape and work on your physical stamina and conditioning. Go get fit. Go talk to those in-the-know. Go learn from those with experience and understanding and knowledge. I get ultra-tired of having the expectation that I’m some kind of societal peace-enforcer when in-public. Note that if I don’t know you, don’t know the context, have my family with me, don’t understand the dynamics of the assault, am not privy to all of the information, think that the risk of involvement is far too great for my own or my family’s well-being….chances are pretty damn high that I’ll be moving right along. I’m not being paid to protect society and I didn’t accept that responsibility simply because I trained to become personally safer. And that is my wont. I feel zero obligation, commitment, or responsibility outside of my own personal-choice. It’s not cowardly or apathetic….it’s knowing your mission statement. Prior assessment on what I’m willing to get involved in…and what not. Knowing my lane. Knowing who I am there to protect and who takes first-priority and long-term repercussions of my actions and involvement.

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So, again, if YOU are not willing to put in the work to educate yourself and become proficient in physical self-defense, fighting, conflict-management, boundary-setting, spatial-awareness/proxemics, combatives, personal-preservation, ad infinitum, evasion & escape, awareness…..why should I be FOR you, exactly? However, though I won’t cover your ass randomly or blindly, I will teach you everything I know on personal-safety if you’re with me long-enough. And you’ll proactively and pragmatically have a far greater chance to keep yourself and your family safe. Independently and self-reliably….and that’s something, right….