Count your blessings

For the last several weeks I have done my best to answer questions from WPJ readers.  Y’all have provided some excellent food for thought and have allowed me to stretch my “writer’s legs” beyond my comfort zone – which until recently had been limited to the monotonous confines of police reports.  Inquirers have prompted me to dig deep into my proverbial toolbox for answers.  This outlet has acted as a refresher of sorts, for my own training and personal experiences, and has therefore been a tremendous benefit to me, as I hope it has helped others.  So, thank you to anyone who has supported this article and tolerated my obvious inexperience as a columnist.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. 

Today’s column will be the last Slicing the Pie for 2022.  I’ll be back on the keyboard after the first of the year as long as The Lord tarries and the creek don’t rise.  With the final column of the year, I’d like to “flip the script” and ask two questions of you, the readers.

 First, what are you willing to die for?  I offer this question to all the students who come through my concealed carry and active shooter preparedness classes.  I also tell students not to answer out loud – encouraging them to answer within themselves because there are no right or wrong answers.  Answers to this question are very personal as some people will value certain things over others.  That leads me directly to my next question – what are you willing to kill for?  The most common considerations for each question are as follows:

  1. Family – If you’re willing to die to protect family, you should be very specific in your heart and mind as to which family members that response applies.
  2. Friends – If you have even one friend in your life that you would be willing to die to protect – or that you know would die to protect you, you’re winning in the friend department.  Again, be specific when answering this question for yourself.
  3. Your faith – If someone stuck a gun in your face and asked if you’re a Christian (or a practitioner of any other faith) – what would you say if you knew the stakes were life or death?
  4. Freedom – This one is tricky.  As Americans most of us hold our freedom and individual liberties in very high regard, but not every American believes what you believe when it comes to matters of freedom.  Patriotism can be very subjective.  You might say “I love you” to your kids 50 times a day, but your neighbors may never verbalize it to their own children.   In the same way, others might express love for their nation differently than you.  So, be careful here.  If you’re willing to die and / or kill for freedom, it should be for the freedom of every American – even the ones who do it all wrong – like the idiots that take a knee in the presence of Old Glory or upon hearing our beloved National Anthem – but I digress.
  5. Innocent strangers – Before you’re quick to say you’d rush to the aid of a stranger; you need to consider all factors.  “Who is with me?”   “By helping this person am I putting anyone else, e.g., previously mentioned family or friends, at risk?”

These are just a few examples of things I discuss with students in class.  The point is to know the answers before you’re thrust into a situation where the decision has to be made in an instant.  When seconds mean the difference between life and death, you won’t have time to evaluate what is or is not important enough to be bought with human life – be it yours or someone else’s.

Know this – once you’ve prepared your mental checklist of who and what you’re willing to die for, it should be a mirror image of what you’re willing to kill for.  The fact is, if you’re not fully prepared to die protecting it, you’re not capable of killing to protect it either.  You might think you’re capable of killing a bad guy to save an innocent stranger but if you’re not also willing to die protecting that stranger, you’ll be wholly ineffective when it’s time to act.  When loss of life is necessary to protect anything or anyone, nature doesn’t care whose life is forfeited, and neither does Murphy.  However you choose to answer the first question is entirely up to you, but the answers to the second question darn-well better match the first.

As we find ourselves at the end of another year, with all the chaos of the holiday season upon us, I encourage anyone reading this to pause for a moment and reflect on your blessings – your real blessings – not your bass boat, Earl.  Think of the things that truly make your life worth living.  Chances are, if you’re honest with yourself, you can find your life’s greatest blessings listed previously in this article – I know I can.  Quietly – perhaps prayerfully – use that moment of reflection to answer my questions.  Then, add internal clarity and confidence to your list of things for which to be grateful.

“I think that when you die, you continue to progress.  You continue to grow in kind of an elevated state, but I don’t think you sit there and wallow around and play the harp.” – Mike Leach.  

Thanks for the memories, Coach – Rest easy.

Until next year…

Avoid what you can.  Defeat what you can’t.


Please submit your questions to Ryan via email at

 (Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney or a medical provider, and no information provided in “Slicing the Pie,” or any other publication authored by Ryan Barnette should be construed, in any way, as official legal or medical advice.)

To report an issue or typo with this articleCLICK HERE