Year Of The Gamma Rat


Hey! A show of hands here, okay? Think back 5 or 10, maybe even 20 or 30 years; what you were like and what you were doin’? Now, how many of you ever seriously envisioned living this long? How many of you are more kinda surprised that you’re even here, standing on the doorstep of Twenty-Twenty?

Lots of you, huh? I thought so. Geez, we oughtta form a club and have T-shirts that read, like, “HERE I STAND — Only by the grace of God and the poor marksmanship of my enemies.” (And, of course, their stupidity, lack of discipline, failing courage and hesitation in the pinch, well that helped too.) Take a bow, folks — you’ve earned it.

Not long ago, I laid out a yearlong plan for sharpening your skills as an all-terrain, all-weather shooter. That was, you might say, about knowing what you do and how you do it. To help bring in 2020, I’d like to share a couple comments about knowing who and what you are.

Inner Warriors, Inner Waiters

There’s a lot of crap being said and published about “The Inner Warrior,” and what makes a warrior. Most of it, I think, is overblown, hyped-up, romanticized claptrap, implying if a person doesn’t grin like a goblin and salivate at the prospect of bloody slaughter, they are somehow inferior to those who would just as soon not, thank you very much. The image painted, mostly by chair-borne commandos and recreational Rambos, is of some chiseled sci-fi superman, draped with ordnance, radiating rage and shooting blue lightning bolts out of his … umm … eyes; one who “lives for the fight.” I don’t think that’s an “inner warrior;” more of an “incipient psychopath.”

The first time I heard Uncle John say, “There’s an inner warrior — and an inner waiter,” I thought he was makin’ a joke about stand-up guys versus wimps. I shoulda known better. That wasn’t it. Here’s his take, paraphrased and plagiarized:

The man with an inner warrior is indeed excited by fighting; stimulated by combat. He’s good at it; he has the right stuff for struggle. He tends to run to the sound of guns, and he’s centered in conflict. He’s valuable in that regard. But he needs tempering and restraint, or he becomes a danger to himself and others, and he overreaches, courting disaster. Above all, he must have the moral compass to choose what he fights for wisely and ethically and never, ever let his ardor for the fight twist him so he fights for the fighting and becomes a war-whore.

The person with an inner waiter is one who serves, and takes great satisfaction from it; a nurturer and protector; one who runs to cries for help and to the sounds of pain. They are uncomfortable with confrontation and avoid it; they may flee from threats and only if cornered or defending the defenseless will they fight, but when they do the latter it is with ferocity, and they will acquit themselves honorably. They’re inner waiters, not inner wimps. They have the heart; they need only to realize there are times they must fight, and have the tools and training for that moment.

The best people have both an inner warrior and an inner waiter, and the very best of them have the two in balance. As the Japanese say, “Bunbu ichi; pen and sword, in accord.” I think of the men who stood with Washington in the snows of Valley Forge; the farmers and tradesmen, loving fathers and faithful sons, tillers of earth and milkers of cows; mostly men who would choose peace over battle anytime — but did not flinch at facing privation and violence. Balance.

Who and what are you?

The Gamma Rats

You know about Alpha Rats and Beta Rats, right? Scientists love to study ’em. Their behavioral patterns are so easily documented and quantified — and so similar to human behaviors. Here’s my take on RatWorld: The Alphas are the powerful, often vicious bosses of the rat mazes. The drive for domination is their prime dynamic. The Betas are their more numerous, submissive, craven and fearful subjects. The Alphas rule by hoarding the best foods and establishing their own harems. Lesser Alphas terrorize the Betas, fight each other and when the moment is ripe, overthrow the ruling Alphas. Almost overlooked are the relatively rare and few Gamma Rats.

The Gammas stand apart, staking out and defending their space, finding their own mate, showing no interest in dominating the Betas. Essentially, they avoid all but necessary, cautious interaction with Alphas and Betas. How do you know if you’re a Gamma?

You don’t understand why anyone would lust after power and domination over others, or why so many fall into blind subservience. You don’t seek the shelter of the mob; you’d rather make your own way. You’re neither psycho nor sycophant. The human Gamma’s attitude is, “Give me liberty — I’ll handle the rest.” You want peace and privacy, and you’re willing to fight for it. Let’s make this “the year of the Gamma Rat.”

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