The story goes there was a small team in Afghanistan working the Pak border. They were new on the ground and decided to reach out to the local elders in order to show respect. What better way to build rapport than to host them all for a meal. Hasty preparations and poorly worded invitations went out for a meal to be hosted in a local village within the week. Now this little team arrived of their shiny new four wheelers and barely moon dusted kit early to make sure things went smoothly. This sort of thing can make or break your rotation very easily.
Naturally the team dropped kit and set about helping with food preparations while getting to know all the local vendors they had paid. Local elders started arriving and without going to meet the guests the main room filled up with about thirty locals. This sort of thing isn’t out of the ordinary nor is it strange that they hold only their pistols on them. Armor and long guns make it hard to show you trust someone. As well the culture shows respect to those who respect the culture. Contrary to what the local vetbro t-shirt says, not everyone in a country wants to kill you.
One of the team asked their terp to go and check on the filling room to make sure the elders were comfortable while they wrapped up everything for the meal. A minute or so later the terp comes back to the cooking area white as a ghost. “Whats up XXXX?” Asked one of the team members. The interpreter could barely choke out the words saying that the entire other room was actually Taliban elders and the local shadow government. Apparently the word going out had gotten crossed in the magical nature of the universe into some sort of bad guy shura.
Remember all the small four person team had on their persons at this point were a few MRE openers (knives for those who don’t get the joke) and pistols with a spare mag. Not exactly the stack you want when it turns out you invited thirty seasoned enemy combatants not known for being reasonable to dinner. The universe being what it is and all the millions of atoms smashing into each other since it began, all the people who managed to outsmart and eat dinosaurs, all the randomness of it all just dumped this into their lap as their first mission.
One guy on the team said lets grab out kit and go in blazing and there were a few other dissenting opinions varying from call in the conventional security to lets handle it. The team sergeant though put his arm around the scared terp and asked him to go get him a grenade off his kit. Then he asked the local help to place cans of pop on trays enough for the whole room. When the terp came back with the grenade the team sergeant stuffed it in his pocket and grabbed a Pepsi. When he started walking towards the meeting room the more hot headed of the team got upset and asked what they hell was going on. The team sergeant just popped open the Pepsi and said “Just be cool man.”
Long story short if you find the guy who’s words all the other guys are hanging on and plop your very American butt down nice and close to him it makes them nervous. It also shows you respect their status so long as they respect yours. No one ever saw the grenade and the food was amazing. The bad guys grudgingly respected the crazy Americans who invited them to dinner. Regardless of the million ways it could have gone down it went down completely different because everyone stayed cool. At least thats how the story goes.
Now I know there will be people who say they should have just tossed that grenade into the room along with a few more and called it good. Warfare and many other things are not just about bodycounts though. Its about making the enemy think about you to the point of exhaustion. Its about showing them you aren't scared of them. Dismantling a network from inside is much more effective than just stacking bodies that in turn make more enemies. Turning a network on itself while you just apply the right pressure to flip the right few here and there is like a well done symphony.
Application of this to your everyday life is just as relevant. Just be cool and let people be people. When those people don’t fit in your lifestyle let them bounce away. The world is full of people who are maladjusted or just don’t people good as we say. The likelihood of them changing based off something you do is very slim so why waste the energy. Go be epic and when you’re being epic look around at those standing there with you. Those are the people who you give your energy to.