children

All posts tagged children

The Best of All Worlds” is where we live today. Unfortunately humanity has bipolar disorder. Find an asteroid on a collision course with earth, and all the industrial nations of the world would chip-in to build a spacecraft and go blow it up. After that, we’d just go back to killing each-other. History is full of lows we would rather forget. I was inspired today by my friend Victoria’s blog entry on the Holocaust. We must remember such events, and most importantly how they started. But knowing the signs doesn’t help much. Knowing that you can drown doesn’t teach you how to swim.

When I was twelve-years-old, my grandfather hung a couple old pots on a tree branch, handed me his sixteen-gauge shotgun and said “go ahead, aim carefully.” He used to tell me stories about the war, when I bugged him enough to get him to talk. That’s probably when I first realized that it wasn’t always the best of all worlds. He never warned me about watching for signs of impending doom, he just taught me skills that had helped him survive the darkest years of the century. I did not think much of it at the time, it was all fun and games for a boy my age. I did however feel compelled to keep studying and spent a decade handling and shooting small arms, hundreds of rounds a week, with rifle, sub-machine-gun and pistols. I practiced martial arts for years. I went camping, traveling, learned basic survival skills and street-smartness. I could as well have picked-up golf or tennis. Something in me told me I had to learn those things. That compulsion is part of me. It is not a fad, not an ego trip, not a hobby. I do not wonder why.

We humans have a tool no other animal possesses, self deception. It is a curse. If you ever wonder how some people can be very intelligent but have no common-sense, there you go, self-deception. No animal in the wild is going to think “what what that noise? Oh, probably nothing..” We do it all the time: “The government would never do that,” “that guy would never hurt me,” “that could never happen here.” Why think about unpleasantness..

I spend enough time in coffee shops to hear it all, mostly rants about politics and how civilization as we know it is about to end. There is a lot of talking going on. Not much else. I am not a proponent of revolution mind you, the best answer to political problems is informed vote. Emphasis on “informed.” What I am a proponent of is preparedness. Things occasionally do go to hell in a hand-basket, on a macro, or micro scale, doesn’t matter, you can end-up just as dead. Being killed by a horde of thugs after an economic breakdown or a mugger at the ATM machine makes no difference. I will tell you exactly what most people do when something like that happens: Nothing. It’s too late for learning how to swim after you fall off the boat. Even worse: It’s too late to learn how to swim after your family falls off the boat. Take a few minutes to think that one over…

If you’re a loner and plan on crawling into a fetal position and keel-over when the going gets though, be my guest. It’s your choice. But of course, it won’t happen to you, right? I am addressing most of us here however, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, and most importantly, parents. It is parent’s responsibility to learn how to defend their children, and teach them to defend themselves. And here is what baffles me the most, almost nobody does. Parents tell their kids not to talk with strangers, but they have no idea about what to do if the stranger has a big knife and is not interested in talking to them at all. Any decent parent would fly to the rescue, but unfortunately, whatever they do next would probably not be the best action, as far as outcome is concerned. Sorry about giving you a guilt trip here, but if I don’t, who else will? You’re not a bad parent, you just deceived yourself. Now you have no excuse, you have been informed. Yet, I will tell you exactly what most of you will do: Nothing.

I am also advocating building strong communities. Look at Switzerland. Every house in Switzerland has an assault rifle provided by the government. Kids in Siberia learn to shoot Kalashnikovs around ten-years-old. Young men and women in Israel serve in the IDF for three or two years respectively. Anybody thinking about invading Switzerland, Siberia or Israel is going to think twice about it.. Anyone attempting to invade Western Europe would have no problem at all. It has been done more than once before. The United States would be a different story, with the number of guns in circulation. The question is, do you have one? Do you know how to use it safely and efficiently? Oh, you are anti-gun.. That’s like being anti-life-vest on a boat. But we are in the same boat. You don’t live in a separate world where everybody is nice and respectful. You live in the same world as the people who were killed by home invaders or raped and killed by sexual predators. Sure, it might not happen to you. What if it does? What if the mighty Dollar takes a plunge and the gangs from that other part of town want your food after they ramsack the supermarket that just closed down? Anyway, enough scare tactics. I don’t spend all my time thinking about such scenarios, actually, I almost never do but for times like today. You know all this anyway. Yet, I will tell you exactly what most of you will do to be more prepared: Nothing.

Now, if you are still reading and haven’t crossed me off your list of friends for being a psycho survivalist type (I’m not, far from it) who makes you feel guilty about spending too much time watching television and getting fat on junk food, you might be onto something. I am not telling you to go to the Gym every day or run 10K twice a week. I get pretty lazy myself at times. There is however a minimal physical condition you should aspire to reach. Now is the time to make new-year resolutions. Read my blog on combat conditioning. If you want to exercise and learn useful skills at the same time, don’t go hit balls with a racket, learn a martial art. Go camping with your kids, learn and teach them what it takes to survive outside your cozy house, how to catch a rabbit, a fish, gut it, cook it. Learn about firearms, safety first.. If not to defend yourself in your house, you might need one someday to shoot your food! You’re vegetarian? Doesn’t matter. When you’ll be hungry enough, your brain will make you seek proteins, and you will eat meat, I promise you. There are whole books about self-sufficiency, I am not going to tell you what to do. If you need advise on firearms or martial arts, you can ask me. I am no expert, but I’ve been around, and if I can’t answer, I know people who can, or where to look. Just ask yourself “Can I take care of myself without society? Defend myself without the cops?” The police can’t be at your door in one minute, can they? But sometimes, that’s all the time you’ll have. Be glad you are now wondering about your personal well-being and you family’s, because I’ll tell you exactly what most people will do to be more prepared: Nothing.

I just stumbled on this article: Half Singapore children suffer from allergies: study. I had never heard about allergies before 1993, when I moved to the United States. The only ones I knew of were serious, and potentially fatal, like my mother being allergic to penicillin. Seasonal allergies or other common types seen today simply did not exist.

Call me a dirty Frenchman if you want, but the cause seems obvious to me: The modern obsession with cleanliness. Singapore doesn’t surprise me, because it is one of the cleanest cities in the world. Not that I have anything against that, I like cleanliness too. However, when the practice goes too far, it poses a threat to all of us. I think that our immune system, if not challenged once in a while, will not be able to defend us when we really need it. I am not asking you to go lick your toilet bowl or the next stray dog you see on the street! If I didn’t live in Florida, I probably would shower every other day. I don’t use hand sanitizers. I don’t mind getting dirty working outside, eat fruits and vegetables I just pulled from a tree or the ground.. We need to get exposed to germs, the benign ones anyway.

When I was a kid, I spent all day playing outside, getting scrapes on my knees, cutting myself, eating things that should have been cooked or cleaned, and coming back home covered with dirt. My parents didn’t seem to mind. It was just what children do. These days, a child won’t be admitted to school with the sniffles. Let them all catch that cold or chicken pox, and be done with it.

The media has us all in a panic about swine flu. Before, it was bird flu, and before that, Spanish flu.. What is it going to be next, fish flu? We get flu every year. Some people die from it, mostly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions; nothing new here. It’s just the flu. You don’t need to sanitize your hands twenty times a day or stay home because of it.

Allergy medicines are big business. Schering-Plough made billions with Claritin. Doctors will push allergy medicine as much as they can. Are the possible long term effects of those drugs better than the discomfort they treat? For some maybe, but overall, I doubt it.

If you want to stay in good health, have a good personal hygiene, but don’t be obsessive. Let go of the bleach a little, and don’t sterilize everything you eat or touch. If you get sick, well, you’re just exercising your immune system. If you have kids, protect and watch over them, but let them be kids and get dirty playing outside. You will make them stronger adults. Avoid loading yourself up with over-the-counter anti-allergy medicine. If you have a problem, see your doctor, but remember that he wants you to buy the stuff.. Eat healthy and exercise, that is probably the best way to a healthy body and mind.

Most people here in Florida know how to swim. Actually, these days, most people know how to swim, period. Our parents may have loved the water, or imagined us kids falling in a pool and drowning. So, we took swimming lessons, and for most of us, it was great fun. Aside from the undeniable fun factor, let’s look at safety.. You actually have to fall in a body of water to drown. Yet, the thought of drowning is unpleasant enough for people to learn how to swim and teach their kids. Never go near deep water and you’ll be fine. It might not be easy, but you can avoid the risk altogether. Individuals with aqua-phobia are extremely unlikely to ever drown. The same can not be said of violence. It can happen anywhere, at any time. You can die of a knife wound or kick to the head faster than having your lungs filled with water. Why is it then that almost nobody, and especially the most vulnerable people never train to handle violence? The idea is as unpleasant as drowning. We wear our seat-belts, avoid bad foods, take vitamins, exercise.. Why not train in martial arts? Why not teach children simple moves to get away from someone trying to grab them?

Swimming is a lot like martial arts. You do it mainly for fun, especially with your family and friends. Not only is it good exercise, but you gain a skill that can save your life. Just like martial arts, you can’t learn it from a book, videos, or listening to other people. That can help, but ultimately, you have to jump in and do it. The only thing you need to practice either is a somewhat healthy body and some water, though only for drinking in martial arts.

Unlike martial arts though, if you have a bad swimming teacher, you’ll know fairly soon.. Imagine a discipline called “traditional swimming” where you learn to swim on the ground, or laying on your stomach on a chair. Your teacher is a “master traditional swimmer.” He has never been in the water, but that doesn’t matter, right? After years of traditional swimming, you should be able to cross a good size river, if you were to fall in.. Unfortunately, a lot of martial arts schools are like traditional swimming schools.. Just keep that in mind. You can read a lot about that on nononsenseselfdefense.com.

A pond, swimming pool, the ocean can be very unforgiving of mistakes and lack of proper knowledge. Yet, they do not actively try to kill you. Some criminals are as cold as an Icelandic lake, and they will murder you without batting an eye. I don’t worry much about drowning or being murdered, mind you. I do however read the news. I could self-deceive myself until the cows came home, but there is no denying that there are people out there preying on others for a living, or wanting to satisfy some sadistic urge. You might say “I’ll just buy a gun,” or “I’ll just kick him in the balls.” That’s pure fantasy. For a gun or knife to be effective, it needs to be right there when you need it, and you must pull it out fast enough, and be efficient with it under stress, that means training. In many places, carrying a weapon is illegal. You need to turn yourself into one. I wish every time someone told me “I would just (insert kick-ass move here)…” I could have jumped them, taken them down and mimic crushing their head before their could move a finger. Then I would ask: “Why didn’t you just (insert kick-ass move here)?” Of course, that kind of argument, though efficient, is rather frowned upon.

If you already exercise, ask yourself, “What other benefits am I getting from this?” I mean, other than an improved health and looking better naked? If you swim, that’s easy, you can save yourself or someone else from drowning.. Otherwise, consider learning to defend yourself. You kill two birds with one stone, better health and acquiring a potentially life saving skill. Sure, you might get bruises and a few aches and pains. So what? If that bothers you, maybe knitting is more for you then, but watch for those needles, they can hurt..