The Pledge: An Oath Worth Keeping

I’m planning on joining Oath Keepers as an associate member. I cannot be a regular member because I am not a current or former service member or peace officer. I’m joining because I believe in the work that the organization is doing. We need them to remember their oaths. We desperately need for them to remember the oaths they’ve taken when they’re dealing with situations that could lead to them committing illegal and immoral acts on the people.

But what about the civilian? We take an oath. We begin taking that oath early in life. Sadly the teachers do not spend any time teaching us about that oath. I really think that we’d all be better citizens had that been included among the various curricula we’re exposed to. Just cutting maybe one story about the Pilgrims a year to go through the Pledge and explain the statements would do more good than a lot of the stuff we spent time on.

So when we come to the Pledge, how do we keep our oath and what circumstances could arise when a citizen fails to keep the oath?

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Egypt…We'll see

Under tremendous pressure from within Egypt and without, President Hosni Mubarak has resigned his office and handed over control to the military. I know the Israelis are not too keen on this move. With unrest in Jordan and Iraq, we are seeing what looks like a cascade of governments toppling. We’re just going to have to see what takes shape in the coming months in Egypt. As preppers we need to stay focused on what’s important, water shelter, fire, food and security. With the Spring and Summer approaching, given the amount of tourism and research in the region, I am sure the military will want to get the people back home and out of the streets so that travelers have some semblance of safety. Whether we’ll see the democracy that President Obama says they are embracing or something worse than Mr. Mubarak remains to be seen.

The illusion of safety

A person sitting on a pallet of gold in the Fort Knox vault is safe but the rent is more than most people can afford.

  • You’re either aware or you’re not aware.
  • You’re either prepared or you’re not prepared.
  • You’re either responsible or you’re not responsible.
  • You’re either trained or you’re not trained.

These are the things one must be doing every day, in every situation, to best ensure freedom from harm. “Safe” and “Secure” are overused and overly misunderstood. Safety, as it is pitched about in the media and the community conversations is an illusion. It’s an abstraction. It does not exist.

We want to be free to move about public venues playing with our personal electronics and not be physically threatened. We think that the existence of the police or other security guarantees that. And so people go about their yakking, head bopping, snapshooting, texting, getting cash from the ATM, eating lives not paying attention very far beyond their “personal space.” Then when someone grabs their toys and runs they stand around wondering what just happened. Or something worse befalls them which I won’t go into. These more serious events are well depicted on CSI and Law and Order.

Back in 2000 I was in one of the malls here. I left the store I had been shopping at and went to the ATM which was about 50 yards away in an open area back down the wing. I got my twenty bucks and receipt and stuck them in my shirt pocket and started back towards the store. I didn’t really pay attention to who was around. I wasn’t thinking about that or even that it was necessary. My mind was on the fact that I needed the cash and had to get done so I could start heading to work. When I got about 2/3 of the way back I got this twitchy feeling like someone was watching me. Then in my right eyeglass lens I sort of caught a reflection of someone getting close to me. It was then that I thought, wait a minute. something’s wrong here. I stopped and turned around. There was a man about four feet away from me. I tried to look him in the eye. We had just passed the last down escalator for that wing. He turned and went and got on it. He looked down at his feet. I kept trying to look at him…to look him in the eye until he was out of sight.

Did I feel “safe?” I don’t know. I doubt it. I did not feel afraid. Would I have won had there been a physical confrontation? I don’t know. It’s possible. But maybe not. I know from what happened that the guy who was intending on shoving me and stealing my money or whatever he was going to do did not have the stomach for facing me full on. He’s a crook, a thief. His operating method was surprise and maybe speed. I was supposed to be left $20 poorer and wondering what happened. So my “safety” began the moment I stopped and took responsibility for myself and my surroundings and it only lasted as long as I was doing that.

Where was mall security? Where were the police? I don’t know and I really don’t care. It doesn’t do me any good having them there if my attacker is running to the exit with my money and they’ve maybe just heard through the grapevine that something just happened on the second level between Space City and Gadzooks. It doesn’t do anyone any good if they’re lying on the jogging trail with a stab wound, the mugger is running away with their iPod and the bicycle park police are on the other side of the lake. It’s called crime. The US military does not swear an oath to protect you from it. The police do, but they’re not your bodyguards or personal escorts. There is no static condition of safety or security that guarantees your freedom from it. The government doctor can implant an RFID chip next to your colon and an array of billion dollar satellites will know exactly where your body is when you just bled to death from a gunshot. While this will be an aid to the authorities in getting your remains to the coroner, none of this stuff matters if you could have dealt with a situation and didn’t because you weren’t paying attention.

Here are my “security measures”:

  1. Trust no one. If you don’t know them personally they don’t have your back.
  2. Compartmentalize your head. Stay sufficiently disconnected from your toys to be aware of your surroundings.
  3. Don’t count money or have cash visible while walking around. Avoid open air ATMs.
  4. Keep your bag between you and a wall.
  5. If you’re at a restaurant take your stuff with you to the toilet.
  6. Lock the car at night and stay with it until that stupid interior light goes out.
  7. Look all around yourself all the time.
  8. Know where the exit is.
  9. Remember where you parked.
  10. Watch the watchers. There is always someone who is out of place. Make sure you see them.
  11. There are exceptions and variations to these. Try to keep that to a minimum.

Protecting yourself is your responsibility. It’s more important than feeling safe.

Looking for life out there

We have a cloud of artificial satellites, paint chips, nuts, bolts, wrenches and other junk orbiting our planet. Astrophysicists are looking in what is called the “Goldilocks Zone” for planets with water-dependent life. So I was watching this video put out by the American Museum of Natural History and I was thinking that maybe the key to finding life out there is to refine our search to planets in the “Goldilocks Zone” with lots of gadgets and stuff swirling around them.

It's about motivations

The green actions I take are not to spare the environment. I don’t care one bit about my “carbon footprint.” I really think that’s the crux doctrine of a religion of environmentalism, something I do not subscribe to. So I use plant-based soaps as much as possible, not to spare the runoff into the wastewater, but to spare my skin. Detergents which aren’t based on petroleum products, while they’re better for our water also aren’t leaching from the fabric onto our skin. Same goes for hand soap and dish soap.

I look for ways to save electricity for the same reasons. My goal is to bankrupt the power company by not owing them anything. So I try to unplug chargers when they’re not being used. I use a rechargeable battery to charge my phone and iPod. By doing that I can charge the battery for 3-4 hours and then use it to charge the gadgets for weeks. I’m looking for other ways to power some small appliances off batteries.

The car is another situation. I am going to have to plod along as a gasoline guzzler for a while longer. My vehicle is 4 years old but it uses gas. I try to cut down on trips and group trips to save on fuel usage but my motivation is cost savings, not emissions.

So in what some might call my own twisted way, you can call me a selfish or self interested environmentalist.

Humorous if it weren't sad

Looting in Egypt.

I thought this was about freedom and getting the Mubarak Monkey off the backs of the people.

After having personally observed the looting during the Rodney King riots in 1992 and then hearing of looting after the 1995 LA earthquake, it does not surprise me that once civil unrest rears its head, for whatever the reason, out come the looters. People will try to justify it by saying it’s the mob mentality or that we have to understand the rage. But the bottom line is these are people taking things that don’t belong to them and there’s no excuse for it. Whenever rule of law is restored they need to be arrested, tried and punished.