Blind Men, Elephants, and The One-Eyed Man
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
We have heard that term before, but I want to discuss it a little bit more because recently I have seen the resurgence of stuff that we dealt with many years ago. It seems as if every so often, the same people “rediscover” the things that they thought they knew.
We all recall the story of the blind men and the elephant. In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement. The problem was that no one man, had the vision that would have allowed him to see the elephant for what it truly was.
Do we see that in the training world today? Oh you bet we do. The problem is that there are some blind men that like to wear what they have done in the past like a flag…or perhaps a billboard, in the hope of giving them more credibility over the other blind men. These guys will grab on to the elephant’s tail hard (or other body part if you will) and exclaim loud and hard, “You see. I have personally grabbed this elephant therefore I, or others who have grabbed this tail right here, like me, can tell you the truth about this animal”.
And the billboards they wear coupled with the vociferocity of their message makes them almost beyond reproach. "Good heavens", their devotees would say. "How could you possibly question him....he was assigned to......"
But the sad part of it is that they do not realize that they themselves are in fact blind to the rest of the massive animal before them. The blind leading the blind.
Take for example a police SWAT shooter. The man may have been in a half dozen gunfight on SWAT operations with his team. One would say this man surely has seen the whole elephant no? He went to battle with six or seven other guys, and attacked a target when the bad guys were at a disadvantage with overwhelming force and superior weapons. Certainly a noble action, but how does that compare to the nature of entire animal? That’s only one part, and as we will see, the trunk has little to do with the tail, and neither of them is indicative of what an elephant is like.
Another example is the military operator. The man may have killed 200 or more enemy soldiers while on infantry operations, or direct action assignments. Surely this man has an understanding about the elephant does he not? He assaulted a compound that had been under satellite surveillance for a week, where he knew contained exactly how many guys. The fast movers above softened it for them and they attacked the enemy and shot them to pieces. The courage of this man is beyond question, but again, what about the entire animal?
Do either one of those sound like a gunfight you might be in tonight, or during the next terrorist act, armed robbery or other unexpected event?
A third example is maybe that of a CCW man. He is not and was never a cop nor a soldier, but he carried a pistol and one day some bad guy tried to carjack him. He did everything wrong, but he still managed to prevail in the fight. Alright…certainly this guy has an understanding of the animal right? No…only another body part.
All three of these fictional examples are like the blind men who are very good at explaining the nature, texture, and smell of their particular experience, but all of them have only seen that, and are missing the complete image and experience.
The HRT/SWAT guy crashing a door into a fortified “crack house” has very little in common with what a lone private citizen CCW operator may have to face when dealing with a trio of gang members bent on his death. And the Delta shooter hitting a target with his team has little to do with how a trio of business owners caught behind the curfew in New Orleans, or Los Angeles need to operate to stay alive and get home. And none of them have much similarity in tactics to the lone operator in a third world country, finishing an assignment and then having to get home.
Trunks and tails, eyeballs and a**holes – they are all a part of the animal, but nobody, and I mean nobody, no matter what their background was, has been everywhere and done everything. And if they tell you that, or insinuate that, they are liars my friends.
So where does that leave us. Our goal is still to identify, study and dissect that massive beast – the elephant. Fortunately, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And the one-eyed man has enough vision to gather all the blind men and debrief them.
That is exactly what I have tried to do with my organization. To gather as many blind men as I can, citizens, cops, soldiers from many armies, even some guerrilla fighter irregulars, good guys, bad guys, and the undecided and, and bring them under one roof taking lessons from them all, offering some positions as instructors, and getting the information out to our students, regardless of position, or assignment, or status, what in the hell this elusive animal, the elephant, looks like.
Want to know what an elephant looks like? I have the men that can show you each part.