I confess that I’ve been scarce around here lately. I haven’t posted much of substance for a couple of months, which means I haven’t recorded any podcasts either.
It’s not like I’ve been sitting around doing nothing, though. I’ve been busy traveling, teaching, writing (yes, there are more books coming) and working on our little homestead.
But that’s just my normal life. It’s not why I’ve been absent.
Introspection is vital to growth
The reality is that I needed a hiatus to think about what I do and how I do it. I take such a short break every few years to help me understand if I’m still on the right track.
Am I teaching the right things? Is the information I share actually useful to people? Am I perpetuating any myths or stereotypes? Am I really helping people be safer and more secure in their daily lives, or am I playing to their irrational fears just to build a following?
If what I do is useful and appropriate, how do I keep the knowledge flow alive? How should I continue to provide valuable and important information on a timely basis? How can I reach more people with the message of rational personal safety and security? How can I make an immediate and positive impact on their lives?
Finally, how can I do all that affordably and sustainably?
These aren’t simple questions; there are no easy answers. It takes time to think deeply about them, which is what I’ve been doing. What I learned through that process will affect what you see and hear from me going forward.
You may have noticed that my perspective on safety and security has changed over the years. When I started teaching in the mid-1990s, everything I did was about the gun. Shooting skills were my sole focus, because I bought into the mistaken notion that firearms were the key to personal security.
When I started this blog in 2006 (yes, it’s been that long) my focus was still on the gun. Slowly, however, I started adding less firearm-centric content. I realized that the lawfully wielded firearm is a defensive tool with an extremely narrow range of application, both legally and practically. It doesn’t prevent crime; it only provides an efficient means of extricating ourselves from a situation that has gone horribly wrong.
It is also of absolutely no use against auto wrecks, heart attacks, economic downturns, natural disasters, mishaps at home, work accidents, fires, chemical spills, diabetes, or any of the other hundreds of things that can kill or maim human beings.
In my book Prepping For Life, I focused on an “all hazards” approach to personal and family preparedness. Self defense, and particularly self defense with a firearm, is just a part of preparedness. It’s in there, but put in what I believe to be its proper perspective relative to the rest of the things that keep people safe.
(I’m not saying shooting skills are completely unimportant, mind you. If you own a defensive firearm, you have an obligation to learn to use it responsibly. That means both the physical skill of shooting as well as the intellectual/emotional skill of judgement. Of those, judgement is by far the more important, but also far less commonly taught.)
In the same way, when Joshua Gideon and I wrote Praying Safe we focused on security for houses of worship from a risk management perspective. We acknowledged that armed attacks on religious institutions do happen, but far less often than many other types of incidents — and preparing solely for the “active shooter” scenario leaves little or no resources available to deal with things like arsons, earthquakes, tornadoes, thefts, sexual assaults, and medical emergencies.
The evolution in my own life mirrors the evolution in what I’m teaching. I want to actually be safer, not just feel safer. That means looking at my safety and security holistically: as intertwined areas of interest and activity, each gaining strength from the other.
Addressing life in that way eventually leads to knowing — not just feeling — that I’m as prepared as I can be, right now, for whatever is likely to come my way. Tomorrow, I’ll be a little better. With each passing day I get more confident and my life becomes just a little less anxious.
As you may have surmised, this holistic focus means that over time I’ve become ever more practical. I focus on what’s likely, what’s plausible, rather than what the fear-mongers and click-baiters want to sell me.
That’s what I want to bring to you.
Where I am now
I want to help you craft a lifestyle that’s focused on realistic security, not gunfighting fantasies. I hope to show you how to integrate a safety mindset and practices into your everyday life, rather than asking you to adopt a lifestyle that’s at odds with your environment, neighbors, and careers. I wish you to live the life you want, at a practical level of security that makes sense for you.
I believe everyone who comes to me for information and advice should come away more confident and resilient. I don’t want to instill fear in anyone, but rather a positive attitude that comes from being rational about the future and their ability to overcome the obstacles it will present.
Self defense is certainly part of it, but so is home security. Knowing how to stabilize someone until the paramedics arrive is important, but knowing what to do in case of earthquake is too. Learning how to prevent crime and criminal attack is probably a better use of scarce preparedness resources than yet another shooting class.
All of that can, I believe, be integrated into any lifestyle. My goal is to show people how.
First off, I’m not giving up on the blog! I’ll continue to regularly share articles I think are of interest, and in fact I plan to share more of them.
To that end, this blog is going to become more news-centric. By that, I mean the blog will feature more content that is immediately useful or has a short shelf life. A blog is the fastest and easiest way to get alerts and warnings out to the public, as well as announcements about coming events. What you see here is going to become more timely and even more shareable.
This is really more of a back-to-the-future change. In the past I often shared lots of news stories and quick analyses about them, but over the last few years I’ve migrated those stories to social media (mainly Facebook). Many readers have told me that they don’t do Facebook, or have stopped using social media in general, and wondered how they could still see that information. Well, you’ll be able to see it right here!
Of course, the Hump Day Reading List will continue! You’ve let me know through your emails that you like seeing what others are writing about these topics, and that you like the new focus on the most important information. I may add another category or two, but you can expect to continue seeing it every Wednesday.
Another change will be slightly more gear-centric articles. I intentionally stopped talking about hardware a couple of years ago, preferring to focus on software (skills and knowledge). I still believe software is by far the most important, but that knowledge without the right hardware is often useless.
I’m not going to become a gear review site by any means (even though it’s a good way to make money), but I’ll allow myself the occasional article about something I’ve found useful — or, just as importantly, something I think is useless or dangerous.
But that’s not all, because I have lots of new things in the works!
I’m writing more long-form articles for a new presentation method and platform. In-depth articles take a lot of time to put together, which is why up to now I’ve been writing them into books. In the near future I’ll have a way for you to access these great articles on your terms.
One thing that I’ve always wanted to do is to make tutorials or do in-depth analyses on specific topics. This blog format really doesn’t lend itself to doing a lot of things like that, but that’s going to change. You can look forward to deeper information (perhaps even downloadable ebooks) tailored to maintaining a safe and secure lifestyle.
(Don’t worry — if you’re into real books, there are more titles coming!)
I’m also planning new podcast and video webcast projects. I’ve not really explored the podcast arena very deeply, largely because I don’t usually listen to them myself. I don’t have a commute, and I’m usually moving and doing things in a way that makes podcast listening impractical. What I forgot is that my life isn’t typical, and most people do in fact listen to and love podcasts!
In fact, the most common request I got when I was doing my live webcast show at PDN was to make the episodes into a podcast. The management there wasn’t wild about that idea, so it never happened. But now that I’m The Boss, it can — so I’m putting together a new podcast format where I can do deeper dives into these subjects.
Speaking of webcasts, I grew to really like doing them. After leaving PDN I’ve been thinking about what my own webcast would look like, and I’ve got a new show in the planning stage. This time I’ll have some collaborators, people who will bring their own expertise to what I think will be the best personal preparedness and security show around!
I’m excited about it, and I’m sure you’ll find it interesting too. Of course, I’ll announce it here on the blog (and social media, for those who are still doing that) when we get closer to release.
In short, you’re going to see more information, more great advice, more authoritative recommendations, and more of me personally. My goal is for you to access what you need at a level that’s comfortable for you and your life, rather than having to sift through stuff that’s not applicable or interesting to you. Your time and energy are limited, so I’ll do my best to make sure it’s not wasted!
There is, however, a bit of sad news: I expect to stop traveling to teach my defensive shooting classes. This isn’t going to happen immediately; I’ll probably be teaching until next spring, but the end is inevitable. Travel is getting more expensive, ranges cost more, and attracting a sufficient number of students to make a class financially viable is getting more difficult. The economics are simply shifting out from under the traveling instructor, and I’m not the only one who’s noticed the trend.
I will still consider traveling if someone puts together a class with a sufficient number of pre-registered students, but the traditional activity of holding open enrollment classes is ending. I have several in the planning stages between now and next spring, so if you’ve previously put off taking one you might want to jump at the next opportunity — it may be the last! Of course I’ll announce them here on the blog and in social media.
This summer is going to be exciting around here. I hope you’ll join me on this odyssey to bring resilience and self-reliance to a new, more accessible level!
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Photo by Carlos Delgado, Creative Commons 3.0