Saving My Bullets

Pierre Fontenot Thursday, March 24, 2022 Comments Off on Saving My Bullets
Saving My Bullets

In my youth I watched B Westerns. There was always a horse chase. No matter how flat the terrain, the good guy (white hat) and the bad guy (black hat) always found some mountain boulders, and there they would dismount, hide behind the big rocks, and shoot at each other.

The audience was trained to count the shots. The plot cliché was that these men had one gun, and only six bullets. The bad guy would waste his bullets. Always. When it mattered, his gun went Click. And the good guy always had one bullet left. 

The only useful life information I ever got out of watching these terrible black & white films was the moral of the bullets. Save your bullets.’

Worth A Bullet? 

When something bad crosses my path, and stirs up bad emotions – anger, worry, fear – I will consciously ask myself, ‘Is this worth a bullet?’

Take Russia vs. Ukraine. When it was in the early stages, a bunch of flexing, but no action, I decided that I would save my bullets. It’s not that I don’t care about Ukraine. Or that I’m not worried that this will escalate into something profoundly more globally dangerous. I do care, and I am worried.

…like those old westerns of my youth taught me, don’t waste your bullets. Time, emotions, attitude, peace, serenity, clarity, are these not bullets too?


But over the years I have learned (and relearned) that I have to manage myself. Whatever there is of great personal value, I only have a little of a little. 

I have a limited amount of peace. My attention span is limited. My sense of direction is limited. I have to be a gatekeeper to my mind and my emotions.

And then there’s time. Of which I only have right now. And there that went…

Many A Prior Rodeo 

I have rationed myself on the Russian-Ukraine news because I have lost great quantities of time, not just hours, but entire days, sometimes a chunk of a week, watching other “breaking news” during my life, and I don’t want to do that anymore. 

From the JFK assassination, through Vietnam, through NASA milestones (and tragedies), Anwar Sadat assassination, John Lennon murder, Libya, Grenada, Iran Contra, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Rodney King Riots, Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, OJ trial, Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky, Columbine, 9/11, Afghanistan, Bin Laden – and 50 more I’ll think of later! – they’re all different, but they all conclude the same way – with me realizing that I was an observer with no effect, nor contribution, and by doing that, I abandoned my real responsibility, of managing myself, my obligations, my time and my resources.

Short version: I have wasted a bunch of bullets in my life and I don’t want to end up facing something serious, and all I hear is click, click, click.

The Trump Years

Never was this harder to do than during the Trump presidency. It was like a four-year cockfight. There was no pause from punch and counter-punch. No matter which side you were on, it was fatiguing. 

I watched nice people get mean. I watched nice people lose their sane center.  There were people that woke up shooting bullets, and kept it up all day, all week, all year. This isn’t who they are, this is who they became. They got pulled in.

It reaffirmed what I’d learned from my own regrettable misadventures, and confirmed the old people advice from when I was a kid, to “pick your battles.”

Life has taught me that I have every reason to be modest. I am unimportant. I have no power. My job isn’t to save the world; my assignment is to be a good steward of the little I have, of me. 

The Good Sam

Sermon last Sunday was on the Good Samaritan. Man is robbed, left for dead on the side of the road. Two people walk by, and ignore him. The third person, the Samaritan, does the honorable thing.

All three were close enough to see the need and give aid. Each person faced the same moral clarity, “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” 

Only the Good Samaritan did the right thing. Like the other two, he was right there, the need was before him.  It was within his ability to give aid, and he did. Yeah for him! He shot a fine bullet.

But what of the first two, who passed by? To us it’s black ‘n white.  They were morally wrong.  We’d like to explain it with a bad word, like “selfish.”  Tell our kids, don’t be like them.

But what if they were empty?  What if they had shot all their bullets elsewhere?  On lesser things?  When faced with someone’s need, they had no bullets left.   

The Russian Ukraine thing, it’s almost like those B Westerns. You know who is wearing the black cowboy hat. Somewhere up high in America, are people in power, who can Good Samaritan Ukraine, and I wish them wisdom, and effectiveness. But as for me, Joe Civilian, I will not have one ounce of effect if I watch news coverage for ten days solid, or ten minutes here and there.

I will manage myself, save my bullets, so that if I come across a need, that’s within my reach, I’ll have something left, to do some Good Samaritan with.


This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is dedicated to realizing that the news media wants your attendance, your time, and while they’re at it, they’ll take your emotions too. Copies of Uncle P’s three books are available at Expressions, 3100 Ryan Street.  Anyone wishing to give Uncle P a piece of their mind, or put him in their will, can reach him at

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