Boundaries–Why Do We Need Them?

Boundaries – why do we need them? Boundaries are the guideposts of sanity. Think about that, while everyone believes they want limitless boundaries, our minds are incapable of handling that responsibility.

Outside the boundaries is often chaos, inside the boundaries is order. Outside the boundaries is experimentation, inside the boundaries is security. The battle is how far to push the boundaries, while not descending into tyranny.

All mammals establish a routine of boundaries, of order, of learning a routine. Growing up on the Stump Ranch, no matter the weather, the herd of cattle waited outside the gate for their dinner of hay, or alfalfa, or corn or 13% natural pellets or stock grower equipped with protein, calcium, salt and other great tasty items. They did not charge the gate, they waited. It gave we children a chance to fill the troughs and add water to the galvanized stock tank while watching a few fish swimming adding flavor the water!

The wait also allowed us to pass through the herd, determining if there was a newborn calf, wet behind the ears. As children, we had no problem determining whether the calf was a bull, with outdoor plumbing, or a heifer, not to be confused with a turtle, with indoor plumbing. Since we were raised on a beef ranch, we knew we had to remove the outdoor plumbing so the calf could concentrate on bulking up, versus attracting the opposite sex.

Once the feed was set and the inspection of the herd complete, the gate was opened. There was never a stampede, just an orderly parade of beef animals. Leading the herd was the brahma cow, with sharp curled horns, possibly the most protective of her calves. She was lean and strong, brightly colored with cold penetrating eyes. We kept our distance from the queen of the herd. During the berthing seasons, prayers were said, asking that her calf be a heifer, otherwise the task of making beef from her calf became a dangerous venture.

Next was a motley black cow with a white patch over her right eye. Small in stature, wiry with a strange set of eyes. We called her “Crazy” because she could turn on a dime, head low and run right at you.

Then there was a jersey colored cow, always packing a huge udder, producing big fat calves. It was money in the bank each time she had a bull. Once, she suckled an orphan calf! That was a profitable year, so we were told.

Bulldozer was next, a registered Hereford bull, orphaned at birth in a corral at the Stockyards on my mother’s birthday. My Dad was a stockyard man, and a quick thinker. He stuffed the calf in a burlap feed bag, placed the bag in the backseat of the ‘48 Ford coupe, found a 2-gallon metal bucket with a huge nipple, purchased a bag of Nestle’s milk powder for calves, and bingo – Happy Birthday Carol!! My Mom never appreciated the birthday gift as must as we did. She was expecting something more romantic, but what could be more romantic than a pet bull?

Back to the story, the procession into the feed lot continued, and it was always in the same order. The herd took their place around three feed troughs. Snuggled together, tails chasing away flies, the occasional release of methane gas. Paradise!!

The herd had their boundaries, something inquisitive calves failed to understand. Calves just wanted to be the center of attention and take their place at the feeding trough. It was always a bad idea, for those young calves received a “cow spanking”. They were kicked, butted and pushed away. Smarter calves, usually heifers, stayed away until the adults had their fill. Yes, there were boundaries in the herd.

If one takes the time, one can see boundaries throughout nature, across all species. Even a hawk will dive on a juvenile, teaching the young bird the correct technique.

As shown on a YouTube video, a mother bear has a tough time getting four cubs across a busy road, especially when one tends to push the boundaries and continue to go back to the other side. The mother can be seen forcefully biting the neck of the cub, carrying him back across the road and then dropping him. After that, he was not so rambunctious. Did she spank the cub?

This behavior, this challenging the boundaries, extends into adulthood.

Years ago, I was very handsome, a full head of hair, a body chiseled out of granite, my statue could have been placed at the Parthenon overlooking Athens. But no, the United States government decided that I was to be a Nuclear Qualified Naval Officer. Suddenly, my world was consumed with rules, regulations, procedures, and boundaries. They were everywhere.

I was assigned the Repair Locker in the pointy end (the bow) of the USS Virginia, CGN38. My crew was a combination of sailors that no one else wanted during General Quarters. Sailors from every level of grade school, high school, rehab groups, and including those that volunteered in avoidance of criminal charges. It was great, and we were all the colors of the world, we were all Americans, even those with thick foreign accents!

There was one natural leader in the enlisted group, a loudmouth crude man from Queens, opinionated, said whatever he wanted. Funny how he reminds me of someone else! The kid had been busted at least 5 times, always reverting from a Petty Officer back down to seaman. He never learned, he did not want to play within the boundaries, but he had the attention of the Locker and I needed someone to help me lead, to kick butt as it were.

The Navy had its way of doing something. If you could not do it the Navy way, then you did it my way, pushing the boundaries. I had a job to do.

The standard practice in a Repair Locker was assign the most senior person as “On scene Leader.” He reports the problem and what is needed. Perhaps there is a fire – ok, the main hose team responds, the same kids dragging a firehose up and down ladders, standing by to “gooseneck.” Maybe there is a simulated hole in the side, ok, call out the hull techs to stop the flooding, while directing the pumping crew to get rid of the seawater. The rotation never changed; the assignments never changed, same people same jobs. Boring…. I never understood why the same guy did the same job time and again, with no cross training. What if he was killed?

So, I started a first come, first on the list. At every practice for General Quarters, the list had different names for each role. Perfect! Everyone was learning all the jobs, staying busy, I even let them be me, the man-in-charge.

But it was not Navy, and the kid, the natural leader in his mid-20’s, was not having it. As we secured from General Quarters during a typical hot Caribbean afternoon, he made the comment “I wish you did not have those bars, I would take you out!” The locker had a crew of some 25 men, and they grew silent. The Naval boundary dictated that the sailor be immediately placed on report, but being the ships Legal Officer, that was just more paperwork for me.

So, I looked at him and said “OK, off they come.” The kid was excited, “really?”, he said, commenting to his friends that he was going to kick my ass, as it were.

He started toward me and I said “Wait”. He proclaimed that I was a chicken, but I responded “Listen, I am an Officer of the United States Navy. We are much smarter than you enlisted guys. We have a functioning brain that cannot turn to rage in an instance, as you are able to do, given your brain power. So, I need to warm up first.”

“Warm up?!?” he said. “Yes, I am an Officer, I need to warm up.” In the forward anchor windlass room was a medical cabinet, a light metal cabinet, painted white with a large red cross in the middle, two hinges tack welded on the side, with a flimsy latch holding the door closed.

The kid came toward me yelling “When will you be ready?” I turned and put my entire weight behind a right forearm shiver, ripping into the red cross, denting the medicine cabinet, springing the latch and breaking a hinge. All the sailors went silent.

I turned and said “OK, I am ready!” The kid was shocked, everyone was shocked. As I stepped toward the kid, he announced that if anyone slacked off, he would personally kick their butt. I found my leader.

I had to go beyond some boundaries to get my leader, and that upsets the status quo. The Commanding Officer was very upset with me, stating that the kid should have been put on report, you know, make the kid stand in the corner for 3-hours in avoidance of a spanking! I responded, “Captain, I needed a leader, he was the one. He has no respect for you or the entire non-judicial mast procedure, but he respects my forearm.”

Boundaries, they are there for a purpose, and sometimes they need to be modified, but as a society, we should always start with the established rules and standards.

Note 1: The forward repair locker received the highest recorded battle score while conducting readiness tests at Guantanamo Bay, during a time when the Northeast experienced the Blizzard of 78.

Note 2: Years later, a retired 3-star Admiral invited me to dinner at the top of the Prudential in Boston and apologized for the way he treated me while serving as the Commanding Officer of the USS Virginia.

Tom Weaver, Patriot © 02/23/23

If you enjoyed this article, then please REPOST or SHARE with others; encourage them to follow AFNN. If you’d like to become a citizen contributor for AFNN, contact us at

Truth Social: @AFNN_USA
CloutHub: @AFNN_USA

Leave a Comment