Interview with Chris Bent

Why did you start writing?
I guess it was for...no...six, eight years ago, I started to think about my kids, and did they really know me. 'Cause kids really don't know parents. They think, they think they do, but they don't. It's only when you get older do you understand a little more about life. Well, now that I'm 74, I want to make sure that there's a record of who I was. Not just a stupid, conventional eulogy; there has to be more there. So in a way, this book started...I started to write letters to them.

Some of them became letters to the editor of the local paper, some of which were printed. And because they were going...possibly, in the paper, they had to be limited in length, which means 200, 300, 400 words. And we're all used to writing thingsat 700, 800, 1,000 words I guess. I mean we just think when you write something it has to be long, or chapters in books are long.

But there was something about writing it short, forced by the newspaper that added a new dimension. I'd come up with a subject, a silly subject...it could be "beer belly"...and it just comes to me out of nowhere, and I'll throw the title down and I'll just start writing. And it flows. I don't know where it comes from, but it comes from somewhere. There's always humor, and there's always wit, and it's always short, and it finishes, hopefully, with a strong message.

In the course of writing it became value driven, meaning as we all know today...getting values, planting values in kids is really difficult, and it's hard for parents, especially with the whole social network...networking cancer that's eroding the family structure.

So a lot of what I write is geared to those of us who are concerned, but a lot of what I write, because of my SEAL background, can reach the hearts of kids. I can...I become an authority of good. And that's what my mission is, to reach them.

You'll find that there're no real allusions to religion, or to God in it, but we're talking about core values. And if I can get one kid to stop and think about doing things the right way, and the unselfish way, and get them into the joy of helping others then I've accomplished what I'm setting out to do.

But it all happens really spontaneously. I mean, if you saw the list of titles I've yet to write, you'd laugh. My new book is going to be called 1-800-For-Women-Only. And why? I don't know. It's like...why not? So titles that I'm working on, or have already done are "Skirt Sense," "Pay Scale," "His Mother," "Marry me,' "Divorce Me," "Nail Salon," "Old Woman," "Just A Minute Honey," etcetera, "Is There A cell Phone Signal," "Monday Night Football." Well, who would ever think that these would be valid topics for anything substantive or serious? But I'm dead serious, but as the writing starts, it just starts, and it's over in 300 words.

Actually, when it's over 300 words or so you start repeating yourself, and you're boring the reader. My books, 1-800-I-AM-UNHAPPY, series Volume 1 and Volume 2 ...you can go into that at any page, any chapter, and just grab a little vignette, and you don't have to feel like you've gotta read the book. And every one of them has a message. So I'm excited about it. I'm pretty sure it's unique, but I don't know, but I'm just doin' it.
Tell us about your book.
Rather personal...the book can almost be summed up in the very first chapter. You know I've written over 200 chapters we've divided up into a couple of books and some of them will be in the new one, in the For Women Only book. And as I was going through, there was one chapter that kept popping out. And it wasn't the first one I ever wrote. The first one I ever wrote was about the poor having no faces.

This is called "The Grenade" and back in the...2006 in Ramadi, September 29th, Mike Monsoor was a Navy SEAL. Mike won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Mike is dead. He, fellow SEALS and Iraqi soldiers they were working with were on a rooftop in Ramadi. A live grenade appeared. All would be killed or injured. Mike reached deep inside where truth lives and dove on the grenade. His defining choice. God bless you Mike. Teammates were saved. They hammered their tridents onto his coffin.

And then I go on to say, you know we all have these opportunities in life to make a decision, and maybe throw ourselves on a metaphoric grenade. When you see an injustice, or something that is not right, do you have the courage to say no, that's not right...not, no Dad I don't want to do that, we're not talking about that. When you see an injustice, when young kids see an injustice, they have a sense for what is right and wrong. Our job is to get them back into that zone where they're being driven by their heart and their own pure sense of right and wrong, good and evil.

So when you see anything that is not right, or anything that is evil, do you have a responsibility to look the other way, to yak about it, or to do something about it? And I say you do something about it. You do what Mike did. And that makes you a man. And that makes your life meaningful, and it makes you important to others. So it gets down to serving others. Listening, and looking, and seeing where you can make a difference; 'cause you only make a difference when you do something for someone else; not for yourself.

So you can become a Navy SEAL in your own way by stopping evil. By being...maybe a warrior of the insignificant. Find moments that...they're yours. And think about the times you say no and you look the other way, or you turn it into a discussion rather than an action. I say just do it, and don't worry about the feelings of others. Do what is right. And if it hurts them, too bad. Just do what is right. God bless you.
What else do you want to tell me?
Yeah, we're blessed to have a successful business, Best Of Everything, and we've got 55 families that we're responsible for; maintaining their incomes and well-being, and it's exciting. A lot of them are single parent gals; no men in the family. And as I keep writing, I think about them a lot. How do they reach their boys...and their daughters?

I have some friends...a guy who is just retiring from the SEALS and a big, full career, and they're going to start this thing called Camp Trident, using the Navy SEAL background to run the boys, in a camp, through SEAL kind of disciplines and experiences. Old fashioned camps where you go do things outdoors; not on the keyboard, 'cause the keyboard is stealing the hearts and minds of our kids 'cause they're getting instant gratification...I am me because I heard that click and I made something happen. And it's great, and I love it, but we're going to have to work up some new kind of protocol for loving and disciplining our kids. One of the things I'm going to write is called "Vitamin No"...you would know where that is going.

But single parent families, young boys, who do they have to look up to? Their father is gone, how can they look up to him? Their hearts are broken. So that's where sports heroes come into play, and other male figures, that happen to wander into their lives. I have no illusions about doing anything great, but with some of the kids in our store I become somebody important, and I can plant seeds about how to live life. And we all make our mistakes, but...so they have some rights and wrongs, some values, some understanding of good and bad. And if I talk, and I show them, you know, I'm blessed with this wonderful background, I can probably reach them and plant a seed that will mean something down the road.

And lastly, as I keep writing, if and when my daughters get into the books over time, maybe even after I'm gone, they're going to know an awful lot about what was really going on deep inside their Dad. And how often do we, as kids, ever get to know what is going on deep inside our parents? What are our parents...what did they really wrestle with? What were they trying to do for us? How did they fail us? Most of the time we worry about how our parents failed us. It's like, it's as if something is owed us. You know, nothing's owed us. The only thing owed us is the love of a mother, and then the rest of life you've gotta earn.

So, I'm on a journey, and I just hope my health stays the way it is so I can keep on doing what we're doing. I'm not going to quit. Like in the SEALs, you only become a SEAL if you learn how not to quit. You don't quit because you live from day to day, moment to moment. You learn what humor is, and maybe you learn how to swear a little bit.
Going back to the book, how does that tie into I am unhappy?
Well, the title came out of nowhere, and then again it came out of...everyone is frustrated these days, not that human beings haven't always been frustrated, but in the past you've been so busy that you don't have time to wallow in your frustrations. Today we have time to wallow in our frustrations, we're always sharing with our friends how frustrated we are.

So, we have 911, and we have all these 800 numbers where you call for customer service. And you know these days when you call for customer service, it's absurd because you get a voice prompt and then some idiot reading a script, bless their heart.

So 1-800-I-AM-UNHAPPY is really addressing all of us out there who are frustrated, but we don't have a phone number we can dial. And then it became sort of theme of this book. If you're unhappy, read one of these. More not to be less unhappy, or you're going to chuckle about things that make you unhappy. And I contend, the more you read the smarter you're going to become about life and about right and wrong, and you're going to be a person who is going to be more motivated to do good rather than to just sit around and say "I am unhappy."
Anything you'd like to say about working with the Navy SEALs guys?
I guess I'd say your manhood is defined by who you help. And your manhood is defined by how you get beyond yourself. And all of our growing and maturing from childhood to young adulthood has to do with self. Some people never get out of self.

Right now all I care about is helping others, and every minute of every day there's a way: either paying somebody a compliment, a reassurance, or helping in some other way.

Back in the 1960's we had the Peace Corps and kids were drawn to help others. Somehow Kennedy got the message out there. It was so simple, and clear, and beautiful, that they wanted to go. they'd go anywhere in the world, from Uganda to Mongolia, in the Peace Corps to help someone because there was an infrastructure around them, and they trusted the government too.

At the same time there's always been the military. And the military is a...I think should be compulsory, but that's a father talking about sons...it teaches you discipline. It shows you what rules and order are all about, whether you like it or not. You certainly get exposed to people you would never get exposed to from all walks of life, so they're not your street gang, they're not your high school gang, which is all just self-reinforcing. It's a...I mean you don't really grow. And when you're in the military, there's a...for me it was you get to be one of the good guys fighting the bad guys. Of course in combat, which I never was in, you see the horrors of existence, but you grow, and everything is for a purpose.
Any last thoughts?
Yeah, these books are really meant to be casual, they're not meant to be confrontational. They're meant to be humorous and maybe loving at the same time. They're not preachy, but they're teachy. It's a new tool that I think a parent can pull out and read an appropriate one, 'cause they're so short, at an appropriate time, and it may make a difference. So I'm trying to give you a...increase your arsenal of weapons that you have to combat all of the social problems that kids confront us with today. And then there are adults of us that are still kids and need it anyway.

A lot of the language is sort of sophisticated because I do a lot of playing with words, and playing with grammar. It's intentional. I had a friend say, "Chris, your grammar's terrible," no, I play with it to make it not professorial...to make it fun. And so there's that kind of element in it that's really for adults. Kids won't quite get it, but all that said and done, the style is what it is, and it just happens. I just choose a title, and today I'll choose one, and go through the list, and I'll say "Oh," and one title will touch me and I just start writing and it's done in 30 minutes. BAM! It just comes. It just flows. So enjoy, and God bless you all.
Published 2014-06-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

1-800-For-SEALS-Only
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 31,320. Language: English. Published: July 10, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Motivation & inspiration
1-800-FOR-SEALS-ONLY is the sixth volume of writings by former Navy Seal, Chris Bent. Using his experience in the Naval Special Warfare culture, he explores what it will take to get our country back to being a nation not in disarray, but in unity. Chris Bent's wit and humor tackle some serious, and not so serious, subjects and will have you thinking if you really can make a difference.
1-800-Oh-My-Goodness
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 23,340. Language: English. Published: July 10, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Inspiration » Personal inspiration
1-800-OH-MY-GOODNESS is the fifth volume of writings by former Navy Seal, Chris Bent. This book is a spiritual, straight-talking, often irreverent and funny look at modern day life and leadership issues we are all facing. It invites examination of modern day issues that are shaping our world's morality and its very future.
1-800-For-Women-Only
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 31,500. Language: English. Published: July 8, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Motivation & inspiration, Nonfiction » Relationships & Family » Ethics & morals
OK, so you are mystified by relationships and life..... Who isn't? 1-800-FOR-WOMEN-ONLY is the third volume of writings by a former Navy Seal, Chris Bent. This book explores the unique relationships between men and women, kids and parents, and is an inspirational, straight-talking, irreverent and humorous look at relationships and life.