Most of us that live in the post-modern era have undoubtedly heard the term “carbon footprint.” This is a term that has come to the forefront of most of our daily lives due to a streamlined and tenacious push to increase the green mentality. We have seen posters, commercials, testimonials, political rants and even legislation on this topic. The idea is to keep your impact on your local environment small so that you minimally affect the “worsening global condition.” I will not go on any type of tirade about how those that impose these ideas don’t follow it themselves (multiple houses, vehicles, wasted finances, etc.) On the surface this sounds like a sound idea and in principle we should do our best to take care of what we have been given. I believe that our Creator mandates this; “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Genesis 1:27.
So as much as we should aim to reduce our carbon footprint in the sight of men we should more-so reduce our carbon-copy footprint. I can safely say that all reading this have probably seen, read, or heard about what transpired in Michigan a few months ago involving militia, guns, “questionable ideals”, and the web site YouTube. I am not saying anything about the people or their ideas/plans, nor am I saying if I feel this may have some Hollywood influence or be somewhat reminiscent of what took place in a particular small town in Texas. What I am saying is that regardless of what transpired we should learn from what happened there and not make the same mistakes ourselves. We should not make ourselves to have a “Carbon-Copy Footprint” of somebody else and make their mistakes. For some reason it seems that the average person lives to relish in the glory of their own accomplishments or resources. This has become more evident as technology allows for us to follow the lives of average (term used loosely) Americans. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. make contact and information sharing almost instantaneous and impersonal. If you go on YouTube and look for “gun” or “shooting” you may find more videos than you could possibly watch in a lifetime of people flaunting their weapons and making untactful expressions of themselves. I fear this is a learned experience but can attribute almost every video that I have watched to one very common humanistic flaw, Pride. A wise Proverb holds true: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” This certainly proved to be the case in Michigan. A good portion of the investigation was done online through video and commentary analysis. An entire case was built off what they said/did through their computers.
Most of us can agree that the idea of being a survivalist does not appeal to the masses that live comfortably in a four bedroom 2 bathroom house with a flat screen in almost every room. (Not excluding myself here). Subsequently if it does not appeal to the masses it most certainly does not appeal to those that “serve” these masses. The idea of modern democracy is don’t rock the boat and point out those that do so. We live in an age of information and security, both of which are very subject to outside influence. I recently read that Facebook was in the midst of discussions with groups like the National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and the infamous Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Duct tape an (inside joke most will get.) If you don’t believe me, then just as Rabbi Google by searching for the above key words. I am not here to spread paranoia and fear or start some anti-government movement. All as I am saying is to be aware of your surroundings an act accordingly. For example, I work as a Civilian contractor for one of the military installations in my area. I love to do research on survival technique, weaponry, food storage, etc. and read a certain novel twice through on my down time at work. But it took someone pointing out to me, my beloved wife, that I was not acting responsible or being aware of where I was and the implications such actions could have on my employment or security. It goes without mentioning that this all happened around the time of the Fort Hood incident and has not happened since I received reproof.
Most people reading this probably have, at least to some degree, their beans, bullets, and band-aids stored within arms reach and safe. Even though common sense would suggest that this is wise I have read where this could be deemed Un-American, hoarding, and in a loosely defined Patriot Act, Terrorism. There are probably very few of us that leave our stores and supplies out in the open for all to see, right? Or do we? It is easy to say “I don’t talk to anyone that does not need to know about what I am planning.” Even though you may not speak openly around family or friends, in some cases it is easy to infer what your plans are based on what you type or post on the internet. This brings us to the next defined term, Operational Security. In layman terms this is defined as the ability not to be detected or found out. It may be one of the few things that if you loose you can not get back, or at least not back in the same state as you created it. It seems funny that some people will go to great lengths to camouflage their guns, clothing, cars, gear, dogs, houses, etc but will speak openly into cyberspace about the very thing they are trying to conceal.
I am not the type of person to say that I was not immune to the fad that is Facebook, MySpace, or YouTube. Nor would I ever try to advise or warn someone on something that I did not experience for myself firsthand. I used to spend hours on Facebook giving updates about my life and throwing out my two cents which is fine if you feel the need to do that. But what became a survivalist’s no-no was in the videos or pictures that I had posted. I have been an avid shooter and love going to the range with my wife and friends. (My wife is quick to tell you that she is a better shot and figuratively descendant of one Mrs. Oakley.) Again nothing wrong with that. What was the problem was that I had the pictures of what we were doing plastered all over my sites. I had pictures with our pastors joining us taking shots at human silhouettes and sporting some pretty heavy firepower. For any of those people who are involved in a religious organization I would advise to not place any physical ties between your place of meeting, the people involved, and any type of weapons training or firearms. Think Waco, Texas, and think how it is going to be perceived by those trained to spot “religious extremism” even in the most mundane acts. In other words don’t advertise a day at the range during fellowship service. I only say this because I have seen it happen many times first hand. Without thinking we also had pictures of out of town friends shooting weapons not legal in all the states they may have resided in. I placed myself and all those around me at risk. For all the preparedness that I thought I had undertaken, I broke one of the cardinal rules that could have made it all worthless. I compromised the operational security of myself, my family, and those in our group unknowingly. I let my pride say, I am a man, I have a rifle, and the world wants to see me use it. Don’t fall into that trap as I did.
Since then I have deleted my Facebook page, I don’t post on YouTube, and have become an Internet nobody. That works for me. I am not telling everyone to run out and delete their accounts or that you are putting unnecessary risk on yourself, I am saying to think before you act, post, speak, Twitter, blog, etc. All the planning and equipment will be useless if you loose the initiative and make yourself a target. I chose to write on this after much thought, consideration, and prayer. I read some of the older posts and realize there is probably not much that I can provide that has not already been discussed or written about in regards to materials and equipment. I try to make myself a student of common sense and point out things that some people often overlook. Alas, you ask, what is the point of all this? Why should I care about what I say or post on YouTube or the Internet? Or sometimes worse, what other people post about you on the Internet. The answer is, it just may be a culmination of your pride before the coming destruction. May you seek the face of the One that formed you. In Christ, - Matthew S.