A Father’s Role In Different Cultures

One scorching hot afternoon my team and I were pushing up into well-known Taliban held territory. This was a place called Shingazi. As we got closer we could hear the enemy radio chatter picking up talking about how they were going to kill us and send us all to hell,. typical Taliban radio chat.

As we slowed down our vehicle advance, due to fear of striking an IED, the tension was getting thick.

We knew they could see us, but we couldn’t see them…

Finally, as I inched my vehicle up against the corner of a compound wall…

Shhhhhh, plung,  BOOM!

A rocket propelled grenade was fired at my buddy’s truck about 100 yards off to our 1-O’clock, ricocheted into the air and burst above us. Then the machine gun fire came tinging in on the side of their vehicle.

“Troops in contact” my team commander reported in.

“Finally,” I thought, “now we know its on.”

Amidst the indirect mortar fire our machine guns began opening up back at the ghost fighters that we still couldn’t see. The Taliban were masters at this. They had fighting positions set up behind fighting positions for so many decades that unless we stumbled upon them by accident, it was damn near impossible to see with the untrained eye.

We decided to dismount from the vehicle and take over the compound next to our truck.

That’s when I opened my door and noticed her.

A little Afghan girl picking up the brass shell casings as they fell off the top of our truck from the .50 cal machine gun. They were still so hot she had to use her dress as a bag for carrying them.

“What the f**k?” I thought to myself. I yelled at her to get lost and sent her off scattering hoping she didn’t get hit by a stray. The Taliban were notorious for this. Give little kids explosives and crank them off one near American forces, or to use them as human shields becuase they knew we wouldn’t shoot them through a little kid… Truly despicable evil.

As the fight went on we eventually pushed them back enough to where there was a lull in the fight. Multiple times though the girl kept coming back into the middle of the battlefield to catch our spent brass shell casings. Even after I had my linguist yell at her father to keep her inside I still found this little girl perusing across the battlefield in pursuit of her brass shell casings.

Finally during a major lull in the fight, I had my linguist yell at the dad one more time to keep this girl inside!

His answer astonished me…

“Why?” He said?

“I do not care if she gets killed. If she gets hit by a bullet then that is one less mouth to feed, but if she doesn’t and she makes it back with the brass I can go into the market and sell it for a good price and make some money.” “So you just keep fighting and she will keep collecting.”

I couldn’t believe this guy. Daughters, and really just kids in general, mean so little to these people that they are actually willing to get them killed over money.

I wanted to shoot him in his d**k… This guy didn’t deserve to procreate any longer… Of course I didn’t, but wow did I ever have the urge.

You see, in America, and in 90% of the rest of the world, we view Father’s as someone who is a protector, teacher, mentor, and guide. Someone we look up to, so that we can learn the ways of our ancestors, and the ways of the world. We look at our Father’s as someone who is to teach us about trust, and strength, resiliency, and responsibility. As someone who is there to shower us in their eternal love. Not just as the noun, but as a verb, an action.

However, that isn’t the case everywhere else.

Remember this when you objectively view your life. That if you were blessed enough to have been raised in a society that encourages a male role model, then you must take advantage of that.

And if you are a Father, remember that… You were blessed enough to be born in a nation or society that encourages that type of role model, and it is therefore your duty to provide the same.

DON’T make the mistake of taking advantage of that….

Happy Father’s Day everyone.

In the world of personal safety, sharp instincts and acute situational awareness aren’t just important; they’re lifesavers. While training and experience play a role, there’s a neural guardian, quietly and consistently working in the background, that deserves our attention: the Reticular Activating System or RAS.


The Neuroscience in Brief

Imagine a bustling airport. Hundreds of announcements blare over the intercom, travelers chat, and footsteps echo. But amidst this cacophony, when the last call for your flight is announced, your ears magically pick it out. That selective attention? Thank the RAS.

Our brains are bombarded with sensory information every second. The RAS, nestled within the brainstem, acts as a vigilant gatekeeper, deciding what gets our attention and what remains background noise. Think of it as the brain’s radar, finely tuned to pick up on relevant stimuli.

Illustrative Example: A Marine on patrol in unfamiliar territory doesn’t just scan the landscape. He is tuned into specific cues – a rustling bush, an odd footprint, or the unusual silence of birds. His RAS, shaped by training, primes him to detect these anomalies, ensuring his safety.


A Story of Keen Awareness

Meet Maya. A college student, she often studies late at the library. One evening, as she walked back to her dorm, she felt an eerie stillness. The regular evening sounds seemed muted. Many would attribute this to mere intuition, but it was her RAS at work.

Two days prior, Maya had attended a personal safety workshop where she learned about being more observant of her surroundings. This training had unintentionally “programmed” her RAS to be more attuned to environmental anomalies.

Walking past an alley, she caught a faint shadow moving against the dim light. It was irregular, unlike the usual dance of tree branches. Her heightened RAS signaled this as important, pushing it to her conscious awareness. Instead of dismissing it, Maya chose to change her route, later learning that another student had been mugged in that very alley shortly after she’d passed.

It wasn’t just luck that saved Maya. Her RAS, fine-tuned by recent safety training, played a pivotal role.


Tying it all together

In the high-stakes world of a Special Operations Marine, a sharp RAS is indispensable. But even in our daily lives, understanding and honing our RAS can make the difference between obliviousness and keen awareness, between danger and safety. Every experience, every piece of knowledge, contributes to programming our RAS. So, invest in your safety; feed your RAS the right information. Like the most advanced radar system, it will watch over you.


Priming the RAS – Cultivating Awareness Without Fear


Understanding the RAS is only half the battle. Now, let’s delve into how to prime it effectively, ensuring it works for us, not against us. The goal is to cultivate an alert yet calm mind.


Step 1: Educate Yourself

Awareness starts with knowledge. Attend personal safety workshops, read books on body language, and learn the basics of human psychology. This knowledge becomes the data your RAS uses to identify potential threats.


Illustrative Example: Knowing that someone frequently touching their face or avoiding eye contact might be signs of deceit can prompt your RAS to alert you when it happens in real-time.


Step 2: Environmental Scanning

Regularly scan your surroundings. It’s not about being suspicious of every person or thing, but more about understanding the norm so anomalies stand out.


Step 3: Role-playing

Mentally or with a group, simulate scenarios and work on your responses. Over time, this ‘rehearsal’ refines your RAS, making your reactions to real situations swifter.


Step 4: Mindfulness Meditation

Engage in mindfulness exercises. These train you to stay present, making your RAS more effective in sifting through current sensory data.


Step 5: Reflect and Debrief

Review situations where you felt uneasy or where your RAS was triggered. Was there a genuine concern? Why? Reflecting helps you recognize patterns and calibrates your RAS more finely.


Awareness vs. Paranoia

Now, an important distinction: Priming the RAS for safety isn’t about inducing paranoia. Instead, it’s the difference between walking through a garden and knowing which plants are poisonous versus fearing every plant you see.


A well-tuned RAS provides peace of mind. You’ll trust your ability to detect anomalies, which inherently calms the subconscious. The body’s autonomic nervous system, responsible for our fight-or-flight response, is soothed when the mind is confident in its ability to discern threats. With trust in your tuned RAS, the autonomic system doesn’t need to be in a constant state of high alert.


In Conclusion

Life is a balance of vigilance and relaxation. With a properly primed RAS, we can stride confidently, knowing our internal radar is ever-watchful, but only raising the alarm when

necessary. Far from inducing fear, a sharpened RAS grants us the serenity of preparedness.


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