this post may offend a few people if not read in its entirety. What I am about to explore is my experience of how the military, law enforcement and fire service has experienced a radical and lasting impact of transition over the past twenty years, what we need to know and how we can learn from it. Many of you that follow me and read this blog are more than likely in the spectrum of Hunters, after all, most farmers rarely seek out new information that will help them grow and develop… it’s just how it is.
I grew up in the fire service in the early nineties. What does that mean? Well, a couple of things. First, it was still primarily a blue collar, grittier job back then with limited resources, limited money and LOTS of time invested. We still had the old school, get shit done guys hanging around and some even still climbing on board and running calls with us. The men who fought fires while breathing off the nozzles, wearing three-quarter boots and long coats and who weren’t afraid to go belly down the hall with flames licking their ass, it was just how it was done. And for those who had hung their gear up for the last time, well, they were spending hours drinking coffee, hanging around and telling radical stories of the good old days. That’s how I learned to be a fireman. A swift kick in the ass and learning to shut up and listen.
After spending several years and transitioning from a volunteer to a career fireman I simply got bored. I mean, I loved it, but I knew there was something more for me so I decided to join the Army. Something interesting happened in the years I was away, things changed DRAMATICALLY. The services had become somewhat fashionable. I mean anyone could swing by and become a volunteer fireman and within a relatively short period of time be fighting fires. In the career world, it became the number one most desired join the US several years running. This brought a slew of new recruits from all sorts of backgrounds and for all sorts of reasons. And this, this is where things began to shift.
You see, the services were no longer viewed as a crazy, eccentric career path. They were now steady, consistent jobs that people could acquire and would maintain with some relative certainty. The number and types of fires had decreased over the years with fire education on the rise, building construction becoming more effective and the general carelessness of the population decreasing in many areas across the Country. However, when the shit hit the fan, we began to see a rise in injuries, law suits, workers compensation claims and a whole host of other things take place.
What in the hell was happening??? Dispatches went from two engines, a truck and an ambulance to five engines, two trucks, a squad, a RIT team, two chiefs, a medic unit, an ambulance and of course, the illustrious safety officer for a single house fire. Not all of that was bad, but it started the creep of poor decision making, hesitation on the fire ground, indecision and well, a lot of houses on the ground that probably shouldn’t have been.
What I now understand is that we (all services included) were invaded by Farmers. When we look back into our evolutionary history we see two distinct types of people, Hunters – those who put themselves at risk for the tribe by going off and providing critical resources and Farmers – those who were responsible for managing the stability of the tribe. At some point someone figured out that if they planted seeds, they could grow food. Magic! What does that mean for us? Well, we watched a significant cultural shift from a primarily hunting posture to a primary farming posture. Over the time as we became a full agricultural society Hunters were needed less and less and the majority of the population evolved with Farmer genetics.
I am not discounting Farmers in anyway but they are wired to watch shit grow. To not rock the boat, to not put things at risk, to repeat the same process that worked last time and to not cause any level of disruption to “the crops.” Meanwhile, those of us on the Hunter spectrum just wanted to do what we loved to do… go hunt and kill shit. As our side of the population shrank, Farmers began to distance themselves from us often labeling us as crazy, unstable, unsettled and disruptive. We worry them, a lot. Today, there is less than ten percent of the population who have retained their Hunter genetics. Most of us find our ways into the various services or extreme sports. We seek excitement and hunt for the next action. We’re not broken, it’s just how we are genetically designed.
Why are you frustrated by your department? Why do you feel constrained at work? Why are you always being told no, you can’t or no, you shouldn’t? Well, you’re a Hunter in a Farmer’s world. You see Farmers are much like gazelles. They operate like individuals. What happens if a cheetah runs into a heard of gazelles? They disperse. They’re all hoping it eats your ass so they will still be alive. Compare that to Hunters who operate more like wolves. What happens when a bear attacks a wolf? They pack up and all attack the bear.
It’s really no different today. That’s why when we find the right crew, the right team, the right people we stick together. We are pack animals and we need to know someone’s got our back.
So what do we do about all of this? Well, first things first. Farmers are not slow stupid and lazy, they are just farmers.