America is a country of rule followers. For good or bad, that is how all little kids are raised. Perhaps it is to facilitate the first grade teacher's jobs, but kids are taught to sit still, and follow the rules, otherwise, they will get a (gasp) "U" in citizenship. (for unsatisfactory in case you just didn't go to school). Church is much the same way and smily faced pastors parade out the entire "submit to authority" scripture to enforce the "good citizen" thing beginning in Sunday school.
Why do I enter the discussion from this angle you ask? After all, this is a discussion about Hard Targets and Soft Targets, and has to do with Counter Terrorism. Aren't we supposed to be talking about tactics and guns and stuff like that? Don't worry my belligerent lads, all in due course. But first, back to the first grade.
The rule was of course to play nice and get along. But there was always one that didn't even try. Today they call them "The Bully" and entire training events (for adults no less) have developed to teach people, teachers, and little kids, how to deal with the bully.
Usually it goes something like this. The bully will push a smaller kid, or take his toy, or something. The victim little kid, having been raised from birth to obey the rules and go seek an authority figure, in this case a teacher, to fix the problem for them. Alas, most teachers never understood any of these dynamics nor the repercussions for the future, and their entire goal was a quiet docile class of little darlings that would not give her a headache. So while she may have caused the bully to stop for the time being, there was no justice or hope that the bully's actions would not be repeated.
And thus we developed a nation of rule following, docile, impotent adults that need permission to take any sort of action or do anything other than sit quietly waiting for instructions. It is from the proliferation of such timid fearful souls that a Soft Target is made. And if a soft target is made from the compliance of such people, we can infer where a hard target comes from as well. Read on.
The bully had a couple of years head start on me down the puberty road. His name was Ron, and he was an asshole bully of the highest order. I had seen him push around just about everyone in class and I also knew that none of the oversized teachers on the smoking break would come in time...and I was unprepared. A mistake I would not repeat ever again.
As he and his posse moved toward me, I spoke to Ron and challenged him to a fight "tomorrow after school". The response of course was, "Why not now?" I thought quickly and replied, "So everyone can come and watch me kick your ass". I could hardly believe the words I had spoken but it bought me some time - at least 24 hours.
My head swam with what to do on the way home. And finally I came upon an idea I found in an old magazine. I snuck into my dad's office and took a roll of quarters. I grabbed up one of my new tube socks and went out into the backyard for a couple of practice runs with my improvised device.
The next day after school, I had the roll of quarters, in the sock, in my back pocket all day long...just in case. And when the moment of truth came, I pulled it and swung it hard at Ron's face, connecting perfectly right around his ear/jaw line. He went down hard and I confess that as a little boy I was scared, thinking I had killed him. Of course, at that moment everyone split running in all directions as little kids do when something bad has happened. I was no different, and my own friends who had no idea what I had been planning to do ran with me.
I spent the ten bucks on sodas and candy with my associates, as much to celebrate as to eliminate the evidence of my dark hearted ideas.
The next day Ron was not at school, having suffered a broken jaw. I was of course the main suspect but there being no physical evidence and the clear physical disparity between us, nobody gave it any credence. The difference was that after that day, nobody in school ever thought of me as a soft target...I was forevermore in the eyes of the bullies, a hard target that would do unspeakable things, break any rule, to prevail.
So the lesson my friends is this. There are no hard targets or soft targets. There are hard people and soft people. And their presence at any location makes that location a soft target or a hard target. The operative application is that any place your feet go is a hard target by your very presence therein. As Musahi would have said, "Think on this deeply".
We live in a time of war...conduct yourself accordingly.