Opinion: Maintaining your inner perimeter

It’s already been stated that men’s roles have historically centered around maintaining and expanding perimeters for their kith and kin. In order to do this, men need to work together with other men. Contrary to what American pop culture influences have taught us over the last 75 years, no man is an island and we are much stronger if we work together. One man’s weak area is another’s strong area, and vice versa. Cover and move, check?

But where do you start if you don’t have that tribal perimeter already? I don’t just mean a physical perimeter, but an ideological and spiritual one as well. Besides physical security a tribal perimeter establishes values for the inner group. You’re allowed within that perimeter because you’ve demonstrated you share the same values as the others within.

But what if there is no tribal perimeter for you to have value within, such as the corporate “Empire of Nothing” we live in now? What do you do if who you want to be isn’t acceptable or comfortable to those you care about because those traits aren’t considered values in your current tribal life, or lack thereof?

I also think that while the tribe may reside in the inner perimeter of the tribal area, each man has his own, deeply personal, and internal perimeter he needs to maintain. But without that tribal perimeter to protect him from the influence of the Empire, it’s very hard for him to protect, or even develop, his inner perimeter. By the age of maturity, most young men have been injected with the values that the society wants him to have, and his internal guide never stood a chance, with most of them not even realizing it happened. These are the same young men who would walk around in a chicken suit if pop culture told them it’s what girls like, or even worse- skinny jeans!

I’ve always admired men who followed their instincts naturally. I’m sure they have felt pressures to do what others wanted them to do, but ultimately they listened to their internal guides. Their gut. They maintained their internal perimeter against outside influences and pressures to become the men who they deeply knew they needed to become.

I’ve learned the hard way in life that ignoring that internal guide is a way to really mess yourself up. Go ahead and martyr your inner self for what others want and one day you’ll regret it. It’s why nice guys finish last, they expect that their sacrifices will pay off, but in reality it never really does. You have to be willing to make a stand and fight for what you need out of life.

“…the thing a man does practically believe (and this is often enough without asserting it even to himself, much less to others); the thing a man does practically lay to heart, and know for certain, concerning his vital relations to this mysterious Universe, and his duty and destiny there, that is in all cases the primary thing for him, and creatively determines all the rest. That is his religion…” – Thomas Carlyle

My whole life I’ve been drawn to the survivalist, prepper, shooter, adventurous tactical life. Maybe it was the smell of Lincoln wax and watching my dad polish his jungle boots every night at the coffee table when I was barely able to walk that set me on that path, or maybe it’s something deeper since I come from a long line of fighting men. Either way, it’s never been something just for fun. I was into tactical when SOF magazine was the preferred reading, not “Recoil”, which actually does make me recoil most times I see it. Following that inner guide has put me in places and situations where I was completely miserable and scared for my life, but never once did I feel like I was out of place or that I made a mistake.

After I left the Marines I tried to justify listening to that inner guide. I felt I didn’t have any valid reasons for needing a gun, or training with it. About a year after I got out I actually called AR-15’s “an expensive paper punch”. Yet all the while I felt weird not having one.

Over the next few years I gradually got into shooting, but always trying to find a way to justify the expense. It wasn’t until I listened to Jack Donovan’s essay “All they have is fear” that I realized there was nothing needing justified about what I was feeling. It’s just what I was being called to do. You can listen to the essay here, the segment I’m referring to starts at about 4:25 right before he starts talking about his friend that is drawn to security like a “painter is drawn to painting”.

All they have is fear

I have undergone my own transition where I have had to start setting my own boundaries and following what my internal guide has been drawing me towards. Like following a dim light at the end of a tunnel, I go and do the things that I feel I need to do, not always sure of what I’ll find at the end of the tunnel. If I feel drawn to study a particular subject or practice certain skills, it’s not because I saw someone else do it, but rather because I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to do.

So while I’ve learned to acknowledge my inner guide, and understand the penalties for not listening, I’m trying to find a way to encourage the other men in my life to do the same. I’m lucky enough to have some good friends, very smart men with different strengths and weaknesses, just like myself.

Courage is one of the tactical virtues because it’s imperative that you have the courage to face danger. Other men will not rely on you, and hence you will be on your own, if you don’t have courage. Courage has to start inside of yourself by doing the right (as defined by your internal guide, not others expectations) things when you are supposed to. If you can’t handle the discomfort of having a “come to Jesus” moment with your domestic partner to stick up for yourself, how are you going to handle the discomfort of life and death combat with people who want to kill you?

I’m not here to give relationship advice, but I caution you to be as tactful and diplomatic as you can be, with a bit of flexibility, but ultimately succeed in expressing your need to fulfill and that you will fulfill it. It might be a bit bumpy at first, all change can be, but it gets easier. After a couple years I’m lucky enough to be married to someone that understands and respects who I am and who I want to be, and encourages me to follow that path. She wants me to be happy and understands that stuffing my face watching sports ball isn’t what I need, but rather adventure and challenge.

I have no doubt there are many other men out there dealing with this same issue. It’s too systemic to be anything but the creation of social engineering. Follow your passion and fulfill your heart, and revel in the rebellion against this Empire of Nothing.

4 comments

  1. “Courage is one of the tactical virtues because it’s imperative that you have the courage to face danger. Other men will not rely on you, and hence you will be on your own, if you don’t have courage.”

    Perhaps this is why the bonds between vets tends to be so damned thick – we found the courage, and, in doing so, found others who made a similar discovery.

    Not all vets, mind you… there are some who – ha – exist only as a testament to time served and not of the quality shared. [twitches in irritated recollection of *that* guy/gal/gaggle of morons, ect.] However, some of us get it… miss it… and find it again – both purpose and tribe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely. Some of the most memorable training I can think of involved hardship, and it takes courage to willingly face hardship. There were times when people quit, or tried to, and they were always looked down on after that by the rest of the group. It’s harsh but true. I think their lack of courage dishonored them to the rest of the group (Honor is another Tactical virtue). On the flip side, those who made it to the end together had very strong bonds and respected and honored each other. I see this when I checked into my first combat unit. This unit was very experienced with many guys having multiple tours in Iraq. There was a certain level of respect that cut through the ranks and billets amongst the guys that had made previous deployments together. I saw this in a discussion once between our company Gunnery Sergeant and a Marine who had just been promoted to Corporal. They had both been in the same battles and discussed certain events as openly and freely as two buddies sharing a beer. I don’t want to make it seem like there was a lack of discipline though, they were both very professional, but you could tell they had that bond. I’ve also seen it after classes I’ve gone to, especially the tougher ones. After everyone has quit and you’re amongst those that finished there’s a definite connection. At my last class, the word “brotherman” was starting to get used a lot towards the end of the class and I thought it was very fitting.

      Liked by 1 person

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