“…We train for the world as it is, not for the way we wish it to be” – Unknown Author


There was another active killer incident the other day, this time in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, as most know by now. 11 citizens from the Tree of Life Synagogue were killed by someone with a credible history of Anti-Semitism and a long list of grievances against the government. Four Pittsburgh Police Officers were also injured during the initial response to the incident. It was a high profile, and highly politically charged, event visited on a population that is no stranger to hate and violence all over the world.

We as educators and information brokers in the personal protection field are always left trying to figure out what the correct response is to such events, if there even is one to be had from our side. I find it distasteful to be out in front of an event such as this while facts are coming in and people (and a community in this case) are still reeling from the loss of life. We all have thoughts about what people SHOULD do in the aftermath, but as fellow citizens in the world, sometimes quiet reflection and allowing the grief process to happen might be our best course until the ears that need to hear what we have to say are done shedding tears for their loved ones.

We at CDT have a very robust and personal connection to the Jewish Community. We have gone to their schools and educated teachers. We consult and partner with them on several issues; and we have members of the company that we consider family with deep familial ties. Needless to say, the events of last Saturday have affected us to the core. We mourn with them and will redouble our efforts to provide what we can going forward. The Jewish community is one of the most proactive parts of our nation in the preparation for violence, and their school systems have worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of their students in school. This flies in the face of the fact that many school systems in this country do the bare minimum or have little in the way of training. That being said, the day to think this won’t or can’t happen to your congregation or community is over. Violence such as this has no place in civilized society and should be met with every rational effort to ensure that it is not tolerated, as well as met with the swiftest of justice. Yet it can still happen.

As for the rest of society, unfortunately, events such as this do provide lessons to be learned, and hopefully action to be taken by other vulnerable segments of our community. Take a look at the saying listed above.

“… We train for the world as it is, not as we wish it to be”

Ok, so I lied. It’s not from an unknown author. It’s a take on a saying by Jack Welch. It’s something I regularly say in our courses; something that reflects a core belief about how and why we do what we do. It came about because of the all too familiar statements we receive in class about, “Gee, I’ve never thought of society that way…” or “I just don’t want to accept that my view of the world being basically good could be wrong”. There is a cognitive dissonance throughout a large portion of society that can watch the news day in and day out, yet still cannot believe that there are people out there capable of using violence without warning or remorse if it means accomplishing whatever aim they have.


G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle…” It should be “Accepting and acknowledging is half the battle”. Violence as a means to an end has been part of society since the day Cain picked up the rock. If you have even a remotely responsible attitude towards your personal safety on a day to day basis, being aware that we live in the world as it exists, today, in 2018, is the first step toward a proactive approach to not being a victim. We preach awareness, avoidance, frequent and realistic personal protection training, and education on what motivates violent actors. None of that will make a difference without the context of living each day in the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. It’s a lifestyle, not a pastime.

Adequate preparation and training is no accident. For example, states like California and Arizona have particular times of the year that open burning is severely prohibited and activities like camping are closely monitored. The Fire crews train for months ahead of time, staging gear and perfecting their techniques in order to battle some of the worst natural disasters imaginable. Even with every possible regulation and prevention measure possible, they train like they do for one reason….wildland fires happen. Not because we want them to, it’s just a factual occurrence. No one has banned matches or cooking fires. There is no national moratorium on whether you NEED to carry a lighter. No dome has been put over the mountains to avert lightning. For the residents and authorities in those states to think that all of their good intentions will stop wildland fires is simply irrational.

If the article is starting to sound increasingly pointed, I apologize. Attitudes, coupled with events such as Saturday, have us alarmed. We have seen a sharp downturn in the interest the general public has for the aforementioned training. Yet, the world around us continues, and violence is visited on vulnerable people without cessation. The old debates about guns vs mental health vs hate speech abound on the 24-hour news cycle. None of it is going to stop the next event from happening. Yet in many cases, adequate preparation and realistic attitudes towards the REAL WORLD can and do. We as personal protection professionals have spent our lives facilitating and educating this to all those who will listen.

Does this mean we do not strive every day to make the world around us a better place?? No, of course not. In fact, it reinforces that we have a moral and ethical responsibility to do so by living virtuous lives and taking the protection of our lives and loved ones seriously. Be good neighbors, foster good communities, raise the next responsible generation.  But, the education is out there…..Stop The Bleed, unarmed combatives training, criminal and violent offender profiling, defensive firearms training….it can be found the internet, YouTube, blogs, etc.  The information and access to quality education is available to all in 2018. Experts in these fields are eagerly available for, as noted educator Aaron Cowan puts it, a ‘fair exchange” of time and information.

As we round the corner into the holidays and to 2019, we will continue to push the ideals of EDUCATE, TRAIN, and PREPARE. Whether it’s for a lean year financially, the next step in your child’s education, or the occasional acts of violence that can and will happen, we should resolve ourselves to emulate and promote those ideals to the world around us. We are constantly impressed with the vital importance the Jewish community puts on safety and violence prevention all over the world. We pray for the lost and the grieving families, and we know that this will only stiffen the back of the community to come together to find real solutions to keep this from ever happening again.


We train, and interact, in the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. We look for effective and rational ways to constantly be better at those preparations. We become the models of restraint, proficiency, and tolerance. We love and give back to those in need. Until the day comes when our efforts to adequately prepare for terrible events are validated, and that those who would threaten the goal of getting to a peaceful world are met and averted at every weak point. To do less is a dishonor to those lost to violence. To the people of Tree of Life, and our Jewish friends, Ha’makom yenahem etkhem betokh she’ar avelei Tziyonvi ‘Yerushalayim.


– Gabe Atchison