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Old December 3, 2012, 01:47 AM   #1
Join Date: May 16, 2000
Location: Washington state
Posts: 7,478
Cooper's color codes

Lots of misunderstandings about Cooper's color codes online these days. Here's what Cooper himself had to say about the codes, from his Commentaries (vol 13, no 7):

Originally Posted by Jeff Cooper
"In White you are unprepared and unready to take lethal action. If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your adversary is totally inept.

In Yellow you bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.

In Orange you have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode.

In Red you are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances warrant."
One nuance that's often lost on people who haven't made a study of this, is that the codes do not indicate an external level of danger. They are purely internal, and indicate both your willingness and your ability to respond if trouble threatens you.

Recently, someone suggested that anyone wearing a firearm should always be in "condition orange," ready to instantly do battle. This is a misunderstanding both of the color codes and of the nature of an armed default setting.

It's just a gun, guys. It's as emotionally laden as a pair of shoes. I wear mine, most days and most places. If you'd rather go barefoot, do so. Just don't tell me I have to be a jumpy nervous wreck just because I wear my clothing differently than you do! The door's locked and I'm relaxed, and I cannot for the life of me imagine being more relaxed when less prepared.

The gun -- safely stored in a secure holster -- isn't going to "go off." If yours might, under similar circumstances, you might want to consult a gunsmith. Or a professional firearms trainer who can help you learn better safety habits.

Online, tactical ninja wannabe's make "Condition Yellow" sound like some grimly stupid place to live. It's not. Here's another, less tactical but no less accurate way to describe the same mental level of alertness:
The service of philosophy, of speculative culture, towards the human spirit, is to rouse, to startle it to a life of constant and eager observation. ~ Walter Pater
Or this:
Along the way, take time to smell the flowers.
Or this:
Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. ~ Ashley Smith
It's truly a joy to live a life of noticing what's happening around you. It would be a sad life to live in deaf and blind numbness, all but immune to the glorious sights and sounds and smells of the living world.


Edit: I owe an apology to jmortimer, which I am making public because my offense was public. He had a typo in his post ("orange" for "yellow") in the thread that sparked this one. He's quite familiiar with Cooper's work and the color shift was a simple typo on his part, not a lack of knowledge. I truly did not intend to "call him out" with this thread, simply to take the color code discussion out of a thread where we had hijacked another conversation, and instead direct it to a thread where it could thrive on its own. However, I didn't take time to be sure he was cool with moving the discussion over, and there was some bad timing in that he was correcting his post while I was writing this one. Can't blame him for getting heated below. I'm leaving the post above unedited for thread continuity, and want to thank jmortimer here for his patience with my bumbling.
Kathy Jackson
My personal website: Cornered Cat
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