A Message to The Hills,

I wasn’t sure what this article was going to look like when I started. I’ve always detested org “mission statements,” those stiff and generic blurbs of verbiage, as dry as the Badlands in August.

So this isn’t a mission statement, it’s a mission overview. And an invitation.

We believe everyone has a right to dignity – and the responsibility thereof – as well as the right to defend themselves from attack, be it physical, psychological, emotion, spiritual, or interdimensional (I mean, come on.)

Having dignity means reciprocating – it means having good moral character. Being a responsible person. Having integrity.

Our mission at The Forge is to help develop a safer, more resourceful, resilient and responsible community. The approach we take is to train as many people as are willing in various relevant skills, educate in principles and values that serve this mission, and practice the hell out of all of it. This builds good moral character.

Most of what we do is unpopular. Not because it’s wrong, but because it’s hard. And if we’ve proven anything as a society in the last 20 years, it’s that we will go to great lengths to avoid doing hard things.


Being safe is inconvenient, and I don’t mean “safe” as in “avoiding all risk.” I mean understanding safety best practices for whatever context you’re dealing with, and taking necessary precautions to make sure you are maintaining a reasonable level of safety. Let’s put this in specific terms.

Driving safely involves things like:

  • Vehicle inspection (checking tire pressure, fluid levels, lights, etc…)
  • Complete stops at stop signs, looking both ways multiple times
  • Observing all speed limits
  • Avoiding distractions (eating, makeup, texting, rubbernecking)
  • Leaving enough room in front of you
  • Both hands on the wheel
  • Checking mirrors often
  • Plan/Think ahead (know where your lanes and turns are)
  • Keeping calm, cool, and collected

This is not an exhaustive list, but if you’re like me you are already exhausted just thinking about it all. This adds up to massive inconvenience and a cognitive load that means we don’t get to just kick back and cruise along like bad things aren’t possible. It means we have to take extra precious time, change our habits and compromise some of our desires if we want to increase our own safety – in any context.

More Resourceful

Resourcefulness is something that seems to be more lacking these days, much like critical thinking and “common” sense. It’s not that people don’t know things – that’s always been true. It’s that many have lost the ability (or rather, never developed it) to figure stuff out.

It’s true, as a community we can help each other in many ways. Asking an expert you know is often the most efficient way to get something done. But besides having the ability to offer our own expertise to the community, each of us should be resourceful enough to figure out how to do some basic stuff.

But in the modern world we’ve trained ourselves to default to convenience, myself included. I still have never changed my own oil, a skill some guys would say is essential to holding an unexpired Man Card. And there’s that fence I promised to build that I haven’t figured out yet, imagining I might just hire someone to do it. I’m on the fence about it.

How many of us know how to these things? How about checking the fluid levels in our own vehicle? Change a flat tire? Cooking from scratch? Navigate by map, not GPS? Preserve food via canning? Use basic hand tools, or even power tools? Sew clothes, or even patch and repair? Make fire without a lighter/matches? Build a shelter? Find and purify water? Tie effective knots?

If not, do we have the resourcefulness to figure it out?

More Resilient

This speaks to our ability to overcome adversity and adapt to change. Most of us really suck at it. From something as simple as finding a hair in our food to something as tragic as the death of a loved one, we are confronted with the adversities in life and completely cave.

I don’t mean that we all curl up in a ball and give up. I mean that we tend to respond in negative ways that are destructive and compound the problem. Let’s stick to the “driving” analogy.

Someone cuts me off in traffic. I pump the brakes and calmly say to myself, “person must be late, or maybe just having a bad day. Bummer. Hope it gets better for them,” and carry on with my travel as usual. Right?

A rock kicks up and chips my windshield. I get a flat tire. I have to fill the tank, and gas prices went up again. I’m late to work and I hit every red light in town. I rolled that stop sign and got pulled over. And on and on…and we all calmly take it in stride, understanding that we don’t really have much control, and need to be adaptive and resilient…right?

Yeah, join me in a sensible chuckle.

No, more often than not things like this result in the unreasonable abuse of language, a middle finger WOD, perhaps testing the daytime efficacy of headlights, decibel level of a horn, quick-reaction tailgating skills (Wait, what was that about safe driving?), snarky remarks to authority figures, etc….

If you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about. Because if you can read, you are human and you screw up like this or in other ways all the time, too.

Our resiliency sucks, and we should be actively working to improve it. Not only will this serve us better in our daily lives – especially in the near future – but it will allow us to better serve as a constructive and positive part of our community.


“Liable to be called on to answer.” Here’s another tendency of the human race: to blame someone or something else, rather than answer for our words, choices and actions.

Everything I’ve written here, or put on the website, or posted to social media, or sent in an email, or said to someone out loud – I have to answer for all of it. And so do you. We canll this “personal responsibility,” the idea that YOU own your choices and actions. Not someone else, not circumstances or other external factors. You.

Who the hell wants that situation? As ignorant as we are about so many things, as many mistakes we make daily…being responsible for it all is terrifying.

And necessary. Integral, even. If we are serious about the idea of community, we’d better be serious about personal responsibility. We must own our words, choices and actions – all the mistakes, too – if we’re going to pull our own weight in this community.

Here’s one that might ruffle some feathers. Consider the idea of “free speech.” You have to self-censor on Big Tech social media, or you’ll get censored. You have to censor yourself at school or work, or you’ll suffer social/legal consequences.

Is that “free” speech? No, it’s responsible speech. If you’ve ever joined one of the various “free speech social networks” that have cropped up over the years, you’ve probably seen what I’ve seen: rampant abuse of language and utterly crass behavior. Zero filters. Completely free, to be sure. And completely irresponsible, destructive degeneracy. It’s the real “word porn.”

Without getting too deep into the philosophical weeds, I’ll just say this: freedom, in this sense, isn’t free. Something is required of you, a price to be paid to exercise the right: responsibility.

Just because I can say a thing, doesn’t mean I should. And though you may be free to say a thing, or do a thing, you are not always free of the consequences – whether legal, social, psychological, or spiritual.

Do Hard Things

We have a long way to go, and that is kind of the point. If we didn’t have work to do, we wouldn’t be working. And so, for The Forge, we’re on a mission to improve these things in ourselves by taking the harder path, both for personal development and the betterment of our community. You are invited.

As I said, a lot of this is unpopular. People like the idea of self-defense, until they see what it takes to be effective. People like the idea of fitness and health, until they realize what they have to sacrifice to make it happen. People like the idea of carrying a firearm, until they realize it’s a complete paradigm shift and lifestyle change.

Change is hard. It takes resourcefulness and resiliency to navigate a changing world safely and responsibly. We need good moral character.

To be sure, there are lots of ways to “build character.” None of them are like self-defense and firearms training. We’re with Thomas Jefferson who, in a letter to his nephew Peter Carr said,

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.

How you choose to develop your own personal character is up to you. But we hope you actively pursue that mission, because it benefits each of us and all of us at once.

Forge responsibly.