In the tiny sovereign state of Burma resides one of the most oppressive governments and perpetrators of human rights abuses in the world. Bordered by China, Thailand, India, Laos, and Bangladesh, this country’s Kachin Christian minority has seen the violence against them escalate ever since the 17-year ceasefire was ended by the Burmese government in 2011.
The Kachin are suffering the effects of the Burma-China cross border trade agreement of 1988 which has over-logged, over-mined, and displaced thousands in their own homeland. The sex slave trade industry is flourishing in the region as women and children who flee their villages are trafficked in China as prostitutes or advertised as mail-order brides.
Today’s guest on Off the Grid Radio is Dave Eubank, founder of the Free Burma Rangers , a Christian missions, multi-ethnic, humanitarian service group. The purpose of the group is to bring help, hope, and love to the Burmese people by providing emergency medical aid, shelter, food, clothing, and human rights documentation. They operate a communications and information network inside Burma that provides real-time information for areas under attack.
Off The Grid Radio
Release Date February 7, 2013
Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Off The Grid News—the radio version of OffTheGridNews.com. I’m Brian Brawdy, here as always with Mr. Bill Heid. Bill, a really unique show today. We’re going to be talking, as you know, about the Free Burma Rangers, the multiethnic humanitarian service movement that you learned all about with your trip. You know “Mr. Ted Goes to Washington”—here Mr. Heid goes to Washington. Tell us quickly… And then you should know he’s calling in from the jungles, just out of country so it’s going to be hit or miss as to when we can pick him up on the sat phone so we might have to jump right in as soon as we get the call and… But go ahead and give us some head’s up as to how you first learned of Dave Eubank.
Bill: Yeah, Brian. Good to be with you this morning. Just a little bit of some background on how I met Tera Dahl. Actually, Tera Dahl is Michele Bachmann’s chief of staff and so I was invited to go hang out with them for a little while and one of the things that we all have in common and the people that know Michele Bachmann know that she’s got a great heart for missions as well as sort of being a pretty educated lady with respect to constitutional law and all those kinds of things, trained by the way by our good friend—trained in law school—by our good friend John Eidsmoe. So there’s a lot of connectivity and Michele and I had a lot in common because she knows John well and we exchanged some stories when we were in her office and laughed and joked a little bit about John and some of his mannerisms and some of the things that he does. So… And her chief of staff, Tera, knows of the Burmese Rangers. As a matter of fact, she had just went to Burma to be part of one of their exercises and this is a story that almost no Americans know.
It’s a true off-the-grid story in more ways than one. So I thought it would be really important to try to connect with Dave. I got a hold of his sister through Tera and next thing you know we’ve got an opportunity to—literally, as you say—from the jungle so it’s an amazing thing. He’s a remarkable guy and I think that the story is something that people need to hear.
Brian: All right. Well then why don’t we do this? Let’s go ahead and bring in the conversation. We don’t know how long it’s going to last, Bill, as you know because he’s calling from a sat phone and there are connectivity issues; there are battery issues so let’s go ahead and bring it in, Jeremy and then we’ll see how long we can get.
Bill: That sounds great.
Dave: Man, you’re awesome. Thank you.
Bill: Well, thank you for what you’re doing. Brian, do you want to say…? I’ve got Brian Brawdy, who’s my co-host here to the show and he’s here as well. Brian’s a former New York City police investigator and has been in the military; he’s been around so you guys might have some affinity as well. Say hi, Brian.
Brian: Dave, how are you sir?
Dave: Hello. Hey, Brian.
Brian: Hey, I’m just on your Facebook page. I’m on your Facebook page now. Is there something other than just joining the group? Is there a way to “like” it? Is there…? Do you…? I mean or is that like beneath your pay grade?
Dave: Oh man. It is so far above my pay grade.
Dave: My daughters run the Facebook page. I don’t even know what’s on it.
Brian: All right. Groovy.
Dave: I’m serious.
Brian: Okay, well what maybe we’ll do is find a way for us to keep in touch and then if they want some help you have a Facebook page where people can follow but I’ve been on your website. I’ve been over to the YouTube and like with everything you’re doing, we need to get you 20 or 30 or 40,000 people following on Facebook and right now it looks like a group that you can join. So let’s just keep it on the back of your mind. We’ll help you any way we can.
Dave: Well, I appreciate it, man. And I’m ignorant of so many of those things. I spend about eight months of the year on foot in Burma, in the jungle and so… And we do communications by Satellite Earth—the little backpack system—so it’s really hard to keep up with Facebook but if you… Since you’re smarter than me and I’ve got some smart young people who work with us, maybe we could figure out a way someone else could help manage my page and one of our team here and if you think that’s a useful tool we could do something different with it.
Brian: Well, I mean if it’s going to be something where you’re going to try to draw people to it… And I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer either. I’m just learning as I go. But yeah, I’d volunteer to help and try to spread the word in any way as I could. So listen, you’re bragging. If you’re only working eight months out of the year in the jungle… in the bush, what are you doing for the other four months? You can’t run your own Facebook page in your four months off? What are you, a high school teacher?
Dave: My four months off. Yeah, I’m taking a big nap. No. Oh man. I’ll try to come up with a better excuse.
Bill: Well, listen. Hey, Dave. Before you even do too much, let’s just… We’ve got a good half hour, 45 minutes and we’ve got about 15 minutes we’ve got to fill from another subject. Brian was aired on a television show last night and so we want to spend a little time talking after we’re done talking to you about that but we’ve got half an hour, 45 minutes if you want to tell us about the mission and if you want to tell us about what you’re doing sort of from the ground up and if you want to tell us where you are now I think that adds a certain sort of sense of interest to the story because you’re… And I… Do you want to do a full-on interview or do you just want to go pick it up from here and we’ll reintroduce it later? Let’s just…
Dave: Up to you. I’ll tell you where I’m standing. I just came out of Burma three days ago. I’m going back then in two days. I’m standing on the side of the road in my pickup truck. My kids are all… You know because you don’t have a lot of rules so they’re just hanging off the back and I’m sitting on the roof. And so I pulled over. I have a couple challenges. One is I’m not sure when this cell phone battery is going to die and so I can try and talk until the battery dies.
Bill: That’d be awesome. Let’s just go into it and… Why don’t you tell Brian and myself and of course our listeners just what in the world have you been up to because I ran to this in Michele Bachmann’s office with Tera Dahl.
Dave: Hey, let me just tell my kids real quick. Let me tell my… Hey, kids. I’m talking to America. You guys can run around, do whatever you want to do. We’re going to be here for a little while, okay? This is a call to a radio in America. I have no signal down there. Okay, I’m ready.
Bill: Hey Dave, are your kids the kids that are in the videos?
Bill: Oh jeez. Okay. Well, we’ll pick… We’ll touch on that later and we’ll give people some things that they can check in with later and…
Bill: And this is an amazing opportunity for us to have a chat with you. I first heard about you from Tera Dahl in Michele Bachmann’s office and she just blew my mind telling me this story and I think, myself, I’m like a lot of Americans—just plain ignorant with respect to what’s going on in Burma. So if you want to start in and tell us just how you got involved and then sort of proceed through just some chronology about what’s been happening. I think the story is fascinating.
Dave: Well, thanks. And who all am I talking to again?
Bill: It’s… I’m Bill Heid and of course Brian Brawdy. We’re the two hosts of the show Off The Grid News.
Dave: Okay. Well, man, can I say a little prayer?
Bill: You better believe it.
Dave: All right. Lord, thanks for Bill and Brian. Thanks for freedom and thanks for love and help us keep those two things together and whatever you want me to say tonight, Lord, I need Your help. And thank you for people like Bill and Brian and this show and may it go wherever You want it to go and bless them and bless the people who are here. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Dave: All right. I’m ready, sir.
Bill: All right. Let’s start from the beginning and tell a little bit about just how the whole thing got started. As I said, I think it’s something that most Americans… It’s not something on the FOX, CNN news cycle. As a matter of fact, it’s just the opposite of that. It’s kind of a story buried and so you’re going to have to bring, Dave… I know you’re there and you’re in an unusual circumstance but you’re going to have to bring… just kind of tell us just what’s going on in Burma?
Dave: All right. How it started was I was in the military and after I was in the military for about ten years I got out and went to seminary and the same year I got to go to seminary an ethnic group from Burma made contact with my parents who are missionaries. They’re here in this neighboring country for 50 years. They’re still here. And said… Okay, dude. Hey, I’ve got a guy trying to ask for help. [Conversation with a native] Hey sorry, man.
Bill: That’s okay. What did you just say?
Dave: Well, I’m on the side of the road and the people here are awesome and they came up and said, “You’re in trouble? You need help?” I said, “No. When I go further down the road I have no signal” and I said, “Do you need help?” He goes, “No.” “Oh, you’re trying to help me? You’re awesome.” And I said, “God bless you” and off he went. So anyway, we were invited by one of the ethnic leaders in Burma, of the Wa tribe, to come and help. And my wife and I got… Well, she wasn’t my wife then but we got married in Malibu California and then three days later we made our way to China and then from China down into Northern Burma and that’s kind of a special crossing and then that’s how we started back in 1993. And then in 1996 I had an opportunity to meet Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon in between hostile resting periods and she… Hey kids, don’t run in the middle of the road, okay? All right. So I got to meet Suu Kyi and she said, “We need prayer. Please pray for us. People around the world, please pray for us.”
Bill: Now who is that that you met? Who is that that you met, Dave?
Dave: Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the democracy movement in Burma.
Bill: Oh, okay.
Dave: She’s won a Nobel Peace Prize. Her party won the election in 1990. She was under house arrest for 15 years and was just released a year and a half ago and is actually now a member of government. And… But at that point she wasn’t. And she asked for prayer and she asked for unity work. So we started something called Dea Prepara Burma [sp] in 1996 and we started working with the different ethnic groups in Burma for unity. In 1997 there was a major offensive that the Burma army launched against the ethnic people. They had been fighting them for 60 years but it was a big offensive in ’97. Over 500,000 people were displaced in about four months. And I was in the middle of it and I remember thinking, “I don’t have a gun. I don’t have much money but if I can help one person they’ll be glad and I’ll be glad. If that’s all that happens, that’s better than doing nothing.”
And as I started… I drove to the border. There was fighting—boom, boom, ba, ba, ba—everybody was running away. I parked my truck and started to walk into Burma and I met this guy—stepped out of the jungle—camouflage fatigues, rifle, big red earring, teeth full of betel nuts, ton of this Johnny Depp-Pirates of the Caribbean- Captain Jack Sparrow kind of guy, man. [Inaudible 0:12:04.2]. Perfect. And he goes—in English—he was a Koran soldier medic and he said in English… He said, “My name is Ilia,” which in English would be Elijah. “My name is Ilia. I am a medic. Can I help you?” And I said, “Man, you’re an angel. You’re like a pirate angel.” So there were people fleeing, going right on this dirt road by us, fleeing from Burma and with their families and possessions and he turned to them and he said, “Hey look, you’re now in a safe country. You can help your family tomorrow. You can run tomorrow. This day help us.”
So I had four backpacks of medicine and he got these four guys. We all carried whatever we could carry and we went into where there was people who were still being attacked or hiding in the jungle and treated about 1,000 patients in one week. I should say he treated them. I kind of stood there with IV bags and did whatever he asked me to do. After that… And when I say, “Treated 1,000 patients,” sometimes it was just Paracetamol or Tylenol, you know? Sometimes that was all we had. But some people we… He had malaria medicine. People who had been gunshot. Just doing the best you could do. So it’s like bare minimum.
So then we were out of medicine. We walked back to where my truck was and a guy who’d got his leg blown off and they carried him over to my truck and they said, “Hey, take him deeper inside to the Provincial Hospital or else he’s going to die.” And I said, “Sure.” And this medic, Ilia, turns to me and goes, “I’ve got to go the other way” and he pointed back to where they were still fighting—ba, ba, ba, bum. And he said, “My wife and my children are still in Burma. I have to find them. Maybe next week I will be dead. Bahahaha”—laughing. He laughs all the time. And I was like, “Man, you were with me for a week and your wife and kids are back there in the fighting and you didn’t go help them?” And I didn’t see him for a year and a half and we heard he was dead but he’s not. Well, now he’s got three kids. Actually, sorry—four. Another was just born. He’s got four kids. They’re all alive. He’s alive. His wife’s alive.
And I said, “Why did you stay with me for one week helping people when you could have been looking for your family?” He said, “Well, first thing—I wasn’t close to my family. When the attacks happened I trusted my friends to get my family out of there. Second—there was no medicine in the area I was in. I was the only medic. And then you showed up and you had the only medicine and there were thousands of people fleeing.” Actually, it was 10,000 people fleeing and there were at least 1,000 people in the jungle who couldn’t flee. And so “You had the medicine. I’m the medic. My friends would take care of my family. The things in life we cannot control we must let God control and I believe God had you and me work together and once we were out of medicine, then I was released to go get my family.” I thought, “Wow, man. Would I have done that? That is just amazing.” And these are the kind of people that are here. And so it’s something that I’m trying to learn about trusting God no matter what things look like.
Bill: Well, hey. Can I…? As a military guy, can I interrupt you just a second and say one of my favorite axioms? My favorite general is Stonewall Jackson. Stonewall Jackson’s little montage—his little thing that he used to say all the time—was “Duty is ours. Consequences are God’s.” So he had the same thing going that Jesse had, right? I mean we do what we can but there are some things out of our pay grade, as we say. Great theology.
Dave: I love those words and there is another couplet that goes with that from a Catholic priest who was 11 years in solitary confinement in Vietnam because he was… you know when the communists took over. And he said, “When you have to choose between duty and heart, always choose duty.” And you think, “What does that mean?” Well, I think what it means is our heart changes all the time. Our heart is going this way and that way and… But when God gives you your duty, of course He cares about your heart but it’s in the right order.
Dave: And so anyways, that’s the kind of people we work with. And then from Ilia and I, we started something called the Free Burma Rangers and we had no idea of making a big organization. We had no big plan. We just helped people that we could help and bit by bit people began to join us and then the ethnic leaders of the different ethnic for democracy resistance groups began to say, “Hey, we like what you do there—this humanitarian assistance—but it’s also putting a light on a situation and you guys don’t run if the people can’t run so you’re not trying to save your own hide. Make more.” So we started training relief teams and now we’ve got… We’re still a tiny little group but we’ve got 74-75 men relief teams in 12 different ethnic groups in every conflict area. And most of them… All of them have radios. Some have satellite phones. And then we’ve got about 20-30 BGAN satellite computer systems so they can be onsite. Let’s say the Burma [inaudible] burns the village. They can photograph it and email it out that day on a little satellite burst.
And so I spent most of my year right now going through a training, helping finish up a training and then walking with the new teams just to be with them. It’s fun. And it’s also helping validate what they’ve learned and coaching them, trying to set an example and also if there is something dangerous, do it myself, one—so they know that it’s important, two—so they know that they can trust me and three—so I know is it worth it? You know sometimes you do it and you go, “You know what? We don’t need to do this.” But when I say I spend about eight months a year, that’s about eight months a year in different ethnic areas, walking with the teams and focused mostly on “Where is it worst?” That’s where we try to go.
The whole family goes together. My son has been… started when he was three weeks old and on my wife’s front actually, so he could nurse. And just like the ethnic people. They also count. And so their kids are born there and our kids move with them. So about eight months of the year we do that and then about two months a year we’re on the border doing different border kind of support things and then maybe two months a year I’m actually at my house but never all at once—maybe just two or three weeks. And then sometimes we go to the states.
So that’s kind of our schedule and… Let’s say 1997… 1996 was meeting Aung San Suu Kyi. 1997 was starting Free Burma Rangers. And here we are in 2013 and there is some positive changes that the Burma government has done for various reasons and at the same time, including with those positive changes, are some cease fires that they’ve negotiated with different ethnic groups and there is definitely overall less fighting right now and less displacement right now. However—that’s the good news… [Lost connection]
Brian: Well Bill, as we said, that’s what you get when you call in from the jungles on a sat phone. Unfortunately, we lost Dave Eubank but you know a good bit more of his story through your time with Michele Bachmann and through your time just studying some on his Facebook page and his YouTube page of the Free Burma Rangers so why don’t you go ahead and fill in some of the blanks for us?
Bill: Just a little bit. And I know not enough yet but just a little bit. As Dave was saying, the Burmese government is probably one of the most repressive on Earth and it’s not a story that’s being talked about a lot. I know the UN has been in there trying to sort of negotiate peace and a lot… There’s been a lot of activity from our country and as Dave even said, Brian, there are some inroads towards this but you have one of those sort of dictatorial countries where a small group of people are really running things, kind of like Washington. And as a result, some of these—he had mentioned these areas and provinces—some of these indigenous people really end up on the short end of the stick because they sort of have this patriotic idea about their country—what their country was, who their people are—roots are deep there, right?
So who you are as a people… Anytime—this happens globally, Brian, as well—but anytime when you try to take a bunch of people and force a country on them and draw some lines around that… We found that out in Yugoslavia, right? The people don’t always get along and sometimes it takes a gun to sort of make them get along and in this case, you just have a repressive government that sort of really wants to take it out on some of these what we would call freedom fighters—some people that want to sort of be free of this big, iron boot of the government—and as a result it’s death from above; it’s burning villages; it’s a lot of this stuff that goes on. And there is Dave in the jungle, trying to help these people. I think his story is remarkable and I don’t know what all we can do. We’re working on some solar equipment for him—some jungle-ready solar equipment—a version of our Power Source. But just to sort of get the story out one of the things I promised my friends is that I would start to tell this story because I think it’s not part of this news cycle. It’s just in there by itself and so many…
Brian: And it’s an ongoing battle, Bill. You know I just looked on… I looked it up on Google right now and just of this week the ethnic Kachin rebels in Northern Burma have been forced to withdraw from a key, fortified outpost in their battle with the Burmese army. So this is an ongoing thing. This isn’t something that oh, happened last month, last year, six years now. I mean as we speak the fighting continues. Here’s another headline that says that the Kachin rebels “defiant on Burma’s northern frontlines.” So this is an ongoing confrontation where people are losing their lives every day.
Bill: They are and I think the government is a little bit like… Who is the North Korean guy? It’s not Kim Jung Il. It’s…
Brian: It’s Kim the younger.
Bill: Charles Barkley would say “a knucklehead.” It’s someone else. It’s Kim…
Brian: The younger.
Bill: The younger. Right. And so I mean we joke about him, right? And I think there are a lot of almost comedic references to sort of the… If it wasn’t tragic it would be funny when you’ve got a government like this but nonetheless there are people dying and you just have a very simple minded leadership at top and boy, the repercussions for the people that want to be free… It’s… They’re major and they’re sad.
Brian: And as you say, Dave is right there. Mr. Eubank is right there in the jungle doing it. And you know on his website, the Free Burma Rangers—I’m over there on their Facebook page—and his motto, although it’s in Latin, is the Special Forces mantra. It means “to free the oppressed.” So when I think, “free the oppressed,” there are oppressors, right?
Bill: Well, you bet. You bet.
Brian: So he’s in the middle of this conflict. What he’s trying to do, there are people there that aren’t happy about it, right? And if you’re trying to free the oppressed, then the oppressors aren’t a huge fan of yours so I mean Dave is in the thick of it—Dave and his family.
Bill: Well, you make a good point. I think early in our country and… Do you remember the Mel Gibson movie, The Patriot?
Brian: I do.
Bill: And there is a scene where a church gets burnt. People get put inside the church and that’s probably a historically correct scene and… But here’s how it goes. It wasn’t just that that’s what they did was doing that—was just… “How can we be as cruel as possible?” I’m certain that there was a part of that but part of it was, as you say Brian, there are issues of neutrality in the world like it’s hard… Bob Dylan says you’ve got to serve somebody. It’s got to be… It’s… You can’t serve two people really. You have to pick a side. In this case, Dave chose to pick the side of those being harassed and repressed and so as you say, the other side now looks at him very much like even if you were a pastor in early colonial America that took the position that “I’m on the side of the colonialists.” Well, what’s going to happen to your church? Well, first thing you do is you let colonialists come in… the…our side of it—not the British side—come in and be repaired as a hospital. And so things start small, don’t they? You let people come in who are injured in your hospital and the next thing you know they see that as aiding and abetting the enemy.
Bill: And you’d better believe the Burmese government sees Dave as someone not only aiding and abetting but almost a resistance leader so he’s a marked man and he’s got his kids with him. You can go find these videos. If you go to YouTube and type these in—type in “Burma Free Rangers”—you can watch his children on the frontlines because he thinks that the Burmese children—the indigenous Burmese children—are just as valuable as his children. So you could say, “Dave, why would you put your kids in harm’s way?” What’s his answer?
Brian: That’s his answer.
Bill: It’s amazing.
Brian: And to me, what an education. Think about that. You know great, he’s putting his kids in harm’s way but think of the education that they’re getting. Think of their sense of loyalty and defending others and compassion and if none of those things register in their little minds now, how would you like growing up in a jungle? I mean just how cool would that be?
Bill: I think you’d end up being a pretty competitive person. Take that person that grew up in the jungle—especially having a father like Dave—and then all of a sudden put them into a less stressful environment. Why, it’s like taking someone that’s in a gravity situation that’s different—your muscles are going to grow in a different way if the gravity changes; your heart’s going to get bigger and stronger—and I think that’s a good reference point, right? I think most importantly in this—his children, the way he’s bringing them up—their hearts are going to get bigger and stronger and I’m not just talking about physiological things here, Brian. I’m talking about compassion for your fellow man and that’s where I think hats off to Dave and his group and if… What’s…? Do you want to read the website?
Brian: Sure. I was just going to do that. It’s FreeBurmaRangers.org and they’ve got a great page to let you know everything that’s going on. It looks like it’s updated. It’s updated almost daily in terms of some of the content, some of the facts, what’s in the news, a glossary of terms. Even some of the maps, Bill, so when you look at it you can go, “Oh, wow” in relationship to this country or that country or even in country itself, it’s a pretty informative website if our listeners want to check out FreeBurmaRangers.org.
Bill: And I would say it’s worthy of your tithe. It’s worthy of your efforts. We’re certainly trying to gather some supplies here so just so people know, some of the purchases that you make from us—we don’t keep all the money and buy nice things for ourselves necessarily—we like to make sure that the money gets spent—any profits that we make get spent—in a way that can be helpful to other people and we try to find people that don’t have a lot of bureaucratic clutter in their mission and certainly Dave doesn’t have a lot of people between you… between the listener and Dave. I think he’s pretty much there by himself.
Brian: Right. And you know when you said that, it made me think of Dave Young—David Young from the Heart of God Ministries. Like you’ve got two Davids—talking about the David and Goliath story—two Davids that are fighting huge… one in Burma and the Heart of God Ministries that are set up pretty… pretty entrenched and trying to help everyone in Haiti.
Bill: Nobody gets a paycheck in Heart of God. Everyone works for free and so there’s no… If you make a contribution there…
Bill: Again, that’s one of the things we look for is just “How heavy is your bureaucracy?” in order to sort of… We don’t want to recommend something that someone is going to donate to or help out that they’re… that 80% of their check… which is the case, I might say, in most charities. It’s almost become an industry to have a charity front so that when people salaries… People say, “Well, this is legitimate” but people don’t need to make $180,000 a year running a charitable organization.
Brian: I would agree. And that’s most certainly not the case with either of these.
Bill: That’s not the case.
Brian: So again, ladies and gentlemen, please check out FreeBurmaRangers.org. Bill, as I think you kind of tipped your hand a little bit in the interview in the few moments that we had with Dave, you’re working on a solar generator. Do you want to talk quickly about that—about some of the jungle camo patterns and things like that Solutions From Science is going to do to try to make Dave’s effort a little more effortless?
Bill: Sure. One of the things that… One of the problems that they have is communications and so one of the things that solar—as you know well, Brian—does exceedingly well is anything involved in electronics. So we’re creating some jungle-ready solar equipment, which I think if you looked at it from a helicopter you’d be lucky probably to see it and just to give them a little bit of an advantage. I mean having… Not having helicopters is a huge disadvantage—people flying over you and shooting at you and stuff—so communications, as Dave said, is really part of the battle and if we can help them fuel some of their communications as they work to sort of kind of establish a self-defense mechanism for some of these groups…
And that’s all Dave… This is not offensive. Dave’s not out there shooting at people. He is being shot at and he is trying to teach people what to do when you get shot at. “How do you take evasive measures? How do you get out of harm’s way?” and so forth. So we talk about a survivalist—you talk about someone that really knows at root what the issues of life itself—and this isn’t a make believe or some sort of abstract project for him—this is real life. This is how you live when you wake up, knowing that you could die that day. As his friend Jesse said, “I might be dead next week.”
Bill: So wow.
Brian: Yeah. And that’s why I think it’s an important story and just the human rights story in and of itself, you know? A lot of people will say, “Well, why should we be involved in foreign countries when we have a lot of this stuff going on here?” and those people are… Their opinion is absolutely… It’s theirs and to a certain degree it’s warranted but human rights means human rights. It doesn’t matter what country you live in. Political classes do what they can to keep clashing, right? It’s all about a power grab. But the people underneath that political class—they’re all people. We all share that in common so I applaud your effort, as I’ve done in the past with Dave and the good folks at Heart of God Ministries and now with Dave here and the FreeBurmaRangers.org. I think it’s really cool that you’re doing what you can as you have in the past. You’re doing what you can to help somebody out.
Bill: Well, thanks Brian. And he… As you know, what we like to do is… Here is a human rights story where it’s private citizens. In other words, you don’t have our government funding maybe the wrong side of that equation, which has happened before. You’ve got someone—just a private citizen—going… What did he say at the beginning? “If I can help one person that’s all…”
Bill: I mean isn’t that the way every great enterprise, every great endeavor, every great missionary activity starts? It doesn’t have grandiose expectations. Dave is a true leader because he gets it. Things start small. He said, “If I can help one person…”
Brian: One person. Well, he reminded me of Emerson’s quote. Remember his poem “Success?” It’s a long… The one… Everyone recognizes it from the beginning—“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people…” But it goes all the way down to the end of the poem—it’s a couple… three paragraphs long—but at the very end he closes it by saying, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” And as soon as David said that—“If I can help one person at a time,” it made me think of Emerson and Emerson was a pretty sharp guy.
I should also add that one of the stories coming across the wire now from the BBC is that the rebel fighters are heavily outgunned and have now been forced to pull back because the Burmese army is using some pretty state of the art artillery barrages to try to drive them out of these particular areas that they’re holding. So it’s an ongoing conflict, I guess, is why I keep reading the wire, Bill. It’s tens of thousands of civilians are being displaced by the fighting and they’re preparing to flee across the border and it’s… It’s ongoing and it’s something that I would think our listeners—if you’re so inclined—something that they’d want to at least look into so that they can become informed. I didn’t pay… Admittedly, I didn’t pay as much attention probably as I should have to what’s going on so you did a great job of educating me as well and I think our listeners are going to feel the same way.
Bill: You know what I was thinking as you said that? It would be fun to know where the Burmese army gets their gear, right? I wonder if that’s part of the American defense contracting side. You know that’s something we’ll have to research and get back to folks on. Wouldn’t that be an incredible story if it were the American government that was actually sort of…? It wouldn’t be the American government but companies that make their living by providing weapons for the American government—if they’re also providing weapons to the Burmese army so that they can persecute.
Brian: No one is going to like this because if they’re listening on a phone or a tablet or a computer or the like… But for whatever it’s worth, they do have a border with the person that made your laptop. The country shares a border with the person that manufactured your…
Bill: Probably made your phone.
Brian: Probably made your phone. So maybe we don’t have to look a whole lot farther than some of that. I mean just give her the borders, right?
Bill: Yeah. I don’t want to point a finger if it’s not the case and maybe that’s the case too. So…
Brian: Not like it’s a case in North Korea, right?
Bill: We’ll look into this.
Brian: It’s not like it’s the case in North Korea. Why won’t…? Why? Why, why, why would it be the case here, right? So I think everyone gets our drift.
Bill: Well you know, speaking of North Korea, can I just…? I hate segueing. You know me, Brian. I like staying on focus.
Brian: I’m sorry. What were you talking about?
Bill: Didn’t this…? Didn’t Kim Jong II make a video about shooting a rocket at America? I think I saw this headline. And didn’t he put Michael Jackson music to it?
Brian: Yeah, “We Are the World.”
Bill: Isn’t that violating? Isn’t that violating a copyright?
Brian: Well, he could have put “Thriller” in, I guess. I don’t… Yeah, I’m sure it is.
Brian: “Thriller” would have been the other one I guess he could have used, right? But no, I think it was “We Are the World,” if I remember reading it.
Bill: Okay. Did Michael Jackson write that?
Brian: I don’t know if he wrote it. Probably Lionel Richie. Didn’t he write just about all of Michael Jackson’s work?
Bill: So Michael Jackson would own it but it would be… His estate would be in charge of collecting that fee then from Kim Jong Il II.
Brian: Yeah. And you know what? Maybe—now that I think about it—Paul McCartney… Doesn’t he own all that? Didn’t he buy up all the different things from Michael? Maybe Paul should…
Bill: Maybe Kim Jong Il, if you’re listening to this, maybe you should call Paul McCartney and make it right. That’s all I’m saying.
Brian: Maybe buy the rights to “Back in the USSR.” I like that song too.
Bill: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Brian: That’s a good one.
Bill: “You don’t know how lucky you are.”
Brian: All right. Bill, what do you want to do here? Want to run to a quick commercial break or do you want to take us up through the hour?
Bill: Yeah, let’s take a little break here and we’ll be right back.
Bill: Well, let’s hope they’re better ideas. Brian, now I’ve got some questions for you.
Brian: I’m a fan of better off-the-grid living.
Bill: I know you are. Better… I think you started out by saying, “Better living through chemistry.” That was… Remember when you walked in with that tee shirt on that said “Better living…”?
Brian: I don’t have to answer these questions.
Bill: That was a DuPont…
Brian: Who are you, my mom?
Bill: …shirt that you were wearing that day, I think—“Better living through chemistry.” So… And I agree with that. Onward! Onward! Off we go! Onward!
Bill: So last night I’m watching TV. As you know, I don’t watch a lot of TV but…
Brian: Yeah, I know.
Bill: … occasionally I watch some TV and I watch Doomsday Preppers because I want to see what people are doing and get… Sometimes I get some ideas. Sometimes I go, “Oh boy. Whoa.” And then last night I was…
Brian: Well, let’s hear it. Where did I fall in on your good idea or “Oh boy. Whoa”?
Bill: So I’m watching TV last night, minding my own business and you’re on there and I thought to myself, “I know that guy. That’s Brian Brawdy. What the heck?” So we’ve been talking about your show for a while—your episode that you did with the Doomsday Preppers—and then all of a sudden finally we waited and waited and waited and I kind of forgot about it for a while. Then watching TV last night and then I saw your face.
Brian: It was on. Yeah.
Bill: So congratulations.
Brian: Well, thank you, I think. I’m continually reminded how many different documents I signed that preclude me from saying anything about my experience so…
Bill: Just like the other friends from Texas. They really wouldn’t comment when I said, “Well, how did it really go?” and they just wouldn’t say anything.
Brian: Well look, to their credit or for listeners aspiring to become film producers one day, you control the edit; you control the message. So we’ll leave it at that but other than that, to their credit, I think they allowed me to give some good tips. You know me. I’ve always believed that mental… preparedness begins with the mental aspect of it, right? I think that in most terror situations… Bill, I thought of you and you’ve shared this story before about the moose. I thought of you the other day. I was doing TV in Cleveland and I was talking about how in the moment when you’re panicked by an outside situation, you can either use the chemicals or those fight or flight chemicals coursing through your body can use you. You’re either in control of what’s going on—you chart those chemicals—or they chart you.
Well, I’m talking to a television reporter and her partner in this particular morning show—I won’t mention the show, although she… God love her. Right on camera she goes, “Oh, do I have a story for you, as embarrassing as it is.” She’s doing a cooking show, right? They’re doing a cooking show and her bandana—her napkin… paper… whatever it was—gets too close to the flame and catches on fire. Now she’s in a TV studio and for those of our listeners that don’t know, our studio is on a cement floor, right? So all you have to do is take this flaming towel and throw it right onto the cement floor, right? There is no carpet. There is nothing else that’s flammable—with one exception—on set there is one thing that’s waiting to explode when fire is introduced to it.
Bill: The thing that’s on set…. The thing that’s on every set?
Brian: The thing that’s on every set. What do you think that one thing was, Bill that she threw the paper towel into?
Bill: A can of gasoline. No. A wastebasket.
Brian: A wastebasket! And it blew up.
Bill: You mean… Wait. Can I just go backwards for a second?
Bill: You mean there wasn’t a bunch of oil soaked rags in this studio?
Brian: No, that would have been good. No, that would have been good if we were doing that moonshine show that Jeremy watches all the time.
Bill: A lot of the studios that I work in have oil soaked rags.
Brian: That’s good.
Bill: But… Okay, so she made… The only mistake she could make…
Brian: She made.
Bill: She made.
Brian: Because the chemicals used her. She had to do something, right? Her mind was totally taken out of it. So to their credit, the folks at National Geographic and Doomsday Preppers at least let me say that mental preparation is a key part of being a prepper and as I… I think I’m allowed to say what I said on the show, aren’t I? Or maybe Jeremy, you should get the attorneys on the other line. But I just said, “Look, it’s not about killing people. It’s not about…”
Bill: It’s not even about killing your cat.
Brian: It’s not even about killing your cat or burying yourself in the yard or… I mean some things… It’s about having a plan. If you wear a seatbelt, you’re a prepper. If you have one of our solar generators, you’re a prepper. If you have homeowner’s insurance, you’re a prepper. If you put money in… I was speaking just last week on WGN radio and one of the guys that was going on after me is this Bright Start? Child Start? Jump Start? Where you put money in for your kids’ college fund now? It’s a… Well, then you’re a prepper, aren’t you? All “prepper” means is that you think that in the future you might need to call on yourself and that you take steps now in order to be able to do so, right? Does that make us crazy? Does that make us nuts?
Bill: I don’t think that’s tinfoil at all. I have homeowner’s insurance. I have insurance on this building.
Brian: You’re a prepper.
Bill: And do you know what? On Doomsday, one thing that annoys me is after every episode they say, “Well, most economists don’t believe that there will be a financial collapse so we estimate that the chance of a financial collapse is…” Guess what? Guess what? The chance of this building burning down…
Bill: Right? Would I buy? What if they said to me, “Well, what are the chances of your building burning down?” and they express it as a percentage? I mean I think if you gave a lot of people that they’d say, “Well gee, if it’s 99 to 1, I’m not sure I need insurance.” Well, I’m not going to take that chance on 1%. I’m going to have building insurance because that’s just… I’m a prepper, I guess. And so the same thing is true in all of these other areas, Brian. I’m going to try to have some things that would allow me, my family, my community if possible to exist if there is a contingency that’s sort of outside. [Phone rings]
Brian: There is the attorney calling now.
Bill: Yeah, there’s the attorney. They’re stopping us.
Brian: What I’m not allowed to say. But to their credit, they let me get out there and just talk about some of the mental preparation and look—humans have been nomads. You and I have talked about it before, whether some of our listeners think we walked out of the Garden of Eden or off the Savannah’s of Africa, we’re nomads. Human beings are nomads. We’ve always thrived when we’ve had to think on our feet and that was the message of the show so I put a little Facebook post up this morning thanking them for the opportunity. All the cool companies… You know me. I love the gear that I use. I just don’t use… Like the Men’s Hair Club… What is it? “I’m not just the president. I’m a client” or whatever? I love the gear.
Bill: Did you buy that now?
Brian: No Bill, but thanks for letting everyone know I have a face for radio. No, I don’t need… Jeremy, will you just tell the attorney I’ll stop please? We’re doing a radio… This is live. This is…
Bill: They will stop at nothing to get a hold of us.
Brian: I thought we were on that call list that says you can’t… What is it? You can’t solicit. Ay, ay, ay. I’m sorry, Bill. What were you saying?
Bill: They’re trying to stop you—the attorneys from the network—probably they’re trying to stop you.
Brian: They were great. I’m excited to have done the show and…
Bill: Oh, he’s getting to the bottom of it now. He’s unplugging the phone line.
Brian: He’s unplugging the phone. That’s great.
Bill: Does that mean Dave could never call back? Okay. Well…
Brian: So we’ve lost the producer, Bill.
Bill: We’ve left Dave in the jungles of Burma.
Brian: Yeah, and even if he calls we’re not going to pick up the phone now because Jeremy can’t figure out any other way to do it. But yeah, so good stuff and I would hope that people listening… If people are listening here, they’re already of our mindset, right? If you wear a seatbelt, you’re a prepper, right? You put a… Let me ask you a question. You get on an airplane… You just flew to DC, as we’ve talked about before. Why do they make you put on a seatbelt?
Bill: Because they want the dental records when the plane crashes and my body burns. They want to be able to identify me so that someone can collect insurance.
Brian: Oh, maybe Doomsday Preppers should call you. That should be a whole episode. Right? You put your seat…I mean…
Bill: Yeah, you don’t want to get hurt. I mean…
Brian: If you don’t want to get hurt, you’re a prepper. Do you know where your flotation device is? You’re a prepper.
Bill: I love it when you talk this way because what it does—it takes the sort of accusation and sting out of someone trying to say to you “You’re not part of some current, stable mentality,” right?
Brian: Oh, you’re my friend. You know I’m clearly not stable but for everyone else listening…
Bill: But I think that’s the accusation that people say, “Hey look, if I’ve got a little food around and if I’ve got even a gas generator or a solar generator or something, then I’m part of some really weirdo group.” Well, you know what? You were watching the Super Bowl. How weird? Look, I mean if it was the… Maybe the NFL was in charge of Dave’s phone there or the city of New Orleans and he lost his phone because of that. But how much resources…? What did they say– $300 million worth of resources putting in towards… to make sure that that Super Bowl went off okay and they’re still vulnerable? Now our listeners don’t have $300 million to put towards things. I wouldn’t be listening if I had… I wouldn’t be doing this show if I had $300 million. No, I’m just kidding. I probably would. But so I mean let’s face it. We’re vulnerable.
Bill: We’re vulnerable and it’s not crazy talk.
Brian: No, and especially if you have family. If you have people… Look, Bill you have beautiful daughters and sons and they now have made you a grandfather and in that relationship, if they can’t protect themselves, if they can’t provide for themselves, if they can’t prepare for themselves, guess what? That’s your karma, right? They’re your karma. The big gun debate going on now—we just did an episode last week with one of the spokespeople from Guns Across America… Americans for…
Bill: Gun Owners.
Brian: Gun Owners of America—thank you—Gun Owners of America and you have a responsibility to protect. You know I saw the other day the city of Chicago has decided they’re not going to respond to 911 calls. Now in fairness, the truth behind that story is that if it’s a burglary in progress they’ll respond but they’re starting to pare back on the number of people that can respond to 911 calls so they can put them out on the streets in different areas of the city. You could very well be responsible for protecting yourself. We had the sheriff in Wisconsin, the sheriff in Arizona—all over the country—going, “Look, we can’t come and save you. Our weapons are to protect ourselves. We can’t be there for you.” So does that make us crazy?
If we adopt the karma, we adopt the responsibility… God gives you life—and I said this on a radio show this weekend—God gives you life. Isn’t there a responsibility that attaches to that to be able to protect that, to be able to provide for it, to be able to prepare for its future? I mean it’s like if God gives you a bicycle—you get a brand new bicycle—you leave it out in the rain and a month later the bicycle is all rusty and falling apart and this and that. You think God’s got a right to go, “Brian, I gave you a bike. You left it out in the yard. It’s rusty. I’m done with you”? To me it’s very simple. You’re given a gift. I would think that attached to that gift is the ability to be able to protect it, to provide for it and to prepare for its future. That’s my three piece.
Bill: And we talk about stewardship all the time, Brian. That’s one of the motifs—one of the lost motifs—in our ever so crazy world as we try to outsource everything. You can’t be a good steward always and outsource every little thing. Some things you take responsibility for yourself. Even if you outsource something… Even if I go to a dentist for my own dentistry, which I hope our listeners do… Even though we’re planning on selling a do it at home kit—no, we’re not really. Remember the doggie dentist?
Brian: Off-the-grid molars?
Bill: The doggie dentist thing on Saturday Night Live years ago?
Bill: So you still have to take ultimate responsibility if your child… If you go to the doctor and you take your child to the doctor, it’s still your responsibility—your child’s health—and don’t try laying that only on the doctor. Your doctor is out there for you. Get suggestions from your doctor. If you don’t like those suggestions you go to a different doctor. You find out… Get a multiplicity of opinions.
Bill: Create… Have an informed opinion on what it is that needs to be done before you make a decision. But folks just want to… And I think we believe as a culture that we’re more productive by outsourcing every little thing. “I’ll let the school educate my kid. I’ll let the doctor…” and then pretty soon you’re not anything. You’ve lost the very essence of your humanity because we’ve farmed everything out to everybody.
Bill: We’re no longer engaged and involved at square one—at home. And I think that’s really the issue. We didn’t… I didn’t mean to kind of take us off that road but I think that’s really where it’s all going. And anyway, I just wanted to tell you I thought your episode last night was good. I thought you did a great job and you got through some of those cogent points that you always… that I’ve learned from you and I don’t know what more you could do. You’re almost doing a version of what Dave’s doing. Look, if one person can listen, you’ve… Then that’s all that you could ask.
Brian: Well, one of the questions that I asked on there that didn’t make it but one of the things that I ask people everywhere—radio shows—do you brush your teeth? Do you get up in the morning and brush your teeth or do you brush your teeth before you go to bed?
Bill: Has anyone said no to you?
Brian: No. Not from close up—maybe from across the room but not from close up. Do you brush your teeth?
Brian: Why? “Well, because I don’t want to get cavities.” Okay, you’re a prepper. Right? If you do an action now to forestall something painful happening to you in the future, you are a prepper. No tinfoil. No 14 and a half-inch Rambo knife. No 50 caliber with 100,000 rounds buried under your bed, right? You don’t need any of that stuff. If you brush your teeth, you’re a prepper. You are preparing and doing what you can to ward off cavities. That makes you a prepper and that’s the message I keep trying to tell people. So if you’re a prepper, don’t be embarrassed by it. Say, “Yeah, I’m a prepper.” You know everyone is “Oh, well I’m so embarrassed. I don’t want to be labeled this and that.” If you’re doing what you can to protect yourself, your family, your friends in the future, God love you. Stand up…
Bill: If you lock your door at night…
Brian: You’re a prepper.
Bill: You’re a prepper.
Brian: Aren’t you? If you set an alarm, you’re a prepper, right? You don’t want the pain of oversleeping and not making it to work on time, you’re a prepper. So then other people—not anyone that you and I are associated with; let’s just say it in case once Jeremy plugs the phone back in it will start ringing again—no one that we’re associated with does anything to hold preppers in a bad light, which is great. I’m simply suggesting in addition to that, if you lock your doors at night, if you wear your seatbelt, if you figure out on the plane where the flotation device is before you take off, you’re a prepper.
Bill: Bingo. Totally agree, Brian. And again, you had a chance last night to… I saw some of our products in your arsenal. I saw our Hot Water Rocket.
Brian: I love that.
Bill: It was interesting you had the Hot Water Rocket and you actually mentioned the words Hot Water Rocket and our phones started to light up. Just to let you know you’ve got a following and then when people watched the show, I mean we had orders from that last night just bringing it up. Certainly Wise Foods was mentioned—a great company that we do business with and you do business with. And our bean kit—I think some of that was on there.
Brian: Our solar generator.
Bill: Our solar generator was on there. And so it was a good… I thought it was a… You know you had a nice mix of things that you have in your arsenal and you had… What was the crossbow that…? I was just curious… bow and arrow that you had—what was…?
Brian: Yeah, I used a compound bow in there just because, as you know, I like the idea of doing that security kind of close in so we had a great… We had a good experience plus also for hunting, after the fact—we didn’t get a chance to talk about it a lot last night—but as far as hunting goes or being able to do some trapping, some other things that I can do when you’re out on the road, to keep yourself up and going. But yeah, Barnett Crossbows was one of the… I think it’s called the Predator that I…
Bill: It looked pretty cool.
Brian: It was… I mean I said at one point “Yeah, baby!” At 50 yards I was nailing the deer right where I needed to and so a great piece of gear all the way around.
Bill: One more question.
Bill: The surveillance equipment that you had, that you used to sort of… You obviously had some motion detectors but what sort of…? It looked like you almost had eyes inside the RV that you were able to see. Was that some kind of infrared…? What was it that allowed you to look out and see who was out in the night?
Brian: A couple different things but probably the most important one is that I have on the top of the rig, Bill, four… at the four points of the rig I have cameras that look out and they… The cables come through—there is a special hole that was drilled—right to a laptop that sits in the storage compartment near the bed. So if I’m really in a situation where I want to know what’s going on I hit “refresh” on the laptop; it brings it out of sleep and there it is—it gives me the four points on a four-quadrant screen. It allows me to see who is moving around. And then one of the other cool things was a company called Starlights. Those motion detector lights are pretty cool now because I’ve had situations in the past, Bill, where… You know me. When I go to bed, I’m out. I go to fall asleep but we’ve done after show dinners and parties, Bill, where you’ve had people in from all over the world and you look over and I’m asleep in the corner. When my day is over, when I get off…
Bill: I’ve noticed that.
Brian: Yeah, and then at one point your dad was like, “Wow. I think Brian’s asleep” and Kim was like, “Yeah, he is. Don’t bother him. He’s sound asleep.” So I would sleep through my light going off. So I found that all my motion detector lights were doing were making it easier for the bad guys to steal my stuff because I was snoring. So Starlight’s folks hooked me up with a little… a configuration of lights and then when the light goes off, it sets off an alarm inside the camper so I can hear it. It wakes me up and I know what’s going on. So that’s some of the inside stuff that I use in a situation if I really…
Bill: That sounds like a great tool to have. I think motion detectors… There is a technology whose price is coming down and I think the applications for different types of motion detectors to protect your house inside and out, I think maybe that’s something we should look into as products here. But what’s the company again? Just… It’s Starlights?
Brian: Starlights is the name of the light and I should also mention Adventure Medical Kits because I think you have them upstairs in the store as well so Adventure Medical Kits—a great way of making sure that if you can’t call 911—you’re probably tired of me asking you this question but I do it all the time—if you can’t call on anyone else, can you call on yourself?
Bill: And the answer is no, because the phone lines are unplugged.
Brian: Thank goodness. All right, Bill. Anything else you want to wrap up? We did not—unfortunately—have an opportunity to hear back from Dave Eubank but as soon as we get that call back in, we’ll get that out to our listeners. I think you did a great job of recapping everything he was doing, everything that you learned from the good folks in Michele Bachmann’s office on your trip to DC.
Bill: If I had a quarter, Brian, for everybody that I’ve left hanging in the jungle, I’d be rich. No. We’ll try to get back a hold of Dave and see if we can’t pick that up but nope, I think we’ve covered a lot. Thanks so much for coming in.
Brian: My pleasure. Ladies and gentlemen, as always we really do look at our Facebook page; we look at our Twitter page so keep… and our emails—keep the emails coming; keep the Facebook posts and the Twitters coming. On behalf of Mr. Bill Heid and everyone here at Off The Grid News, we know an hour is… Well, it’s 1/24 of your day. It truly is an honor to have been able to share that chunk of your day with you. Thanks so much. We’ll see you soon.