The death of common sense regarding violence

Earlier today, I had a first interview with a new client who wants to learn self-defense. I explained how I view things and one of the points I made was this:

We live in an age where having knowledge about how violence actually works is frowned upon. Having experience with it is viewed even worse.

When you look around you, you can find many examples of this. Just to help you out, try this one, where you’ll see stupid behavior towards an armed professional. Or this one, where instead of letting it go, somebody chooses to escalate the conflict but gets way more than he bargained for.

One of the key issues I see is that in modern societies, a large number of people no longer have to face violence on a regular basis and haven’t had to for several generations. As a result, the knowledge and skills needed to handle it are deemed obsolete and no longer passed on.

It wasn’t always so. A bit over a century ago, to be considered a (gentle)man, you were required to learn to protect yourself as violence was seen as an inherent part of life (two interesting books about this here and, in a different vein, here.) You were supposed to know boxing, fencing and other skills that helped you face violence.

Let that sink in.

About 100 years ago, this was considered normal.

Today, it is seen as “wrong” by many Western societies.

What happened?

Many things, but mainly our societies changed and became more peaceful. The need for understanding and knowing how to handle violence diminished. Some people feel that it is gone entirely. These are the folks who say things like “Violence never solved anything” and mean it, notwithstanding millennia of human behavior proving them wrong. The end result: what used to be common sense regarding violence is now no more.

Case in point:

A cellphone case in the shape of a firearm. Take a look at these pictures:

The death of common sense regarding violence

The death of common sense regarding violence

My first reaction to this was to see a dozen different ways how this will cause problems and end badly for the owner of such a case. There is not one scenario in which having this case is a good thing, but I’m sure it’ll sell well.

Depending on where you live, carrying this may or may not be legal. If it is legal, then so be it. Here’s the thing: just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it’s a smart thing to do or without consequences. The example I always use is this:

Where I live, drivers are obligated by law to stop when a pedestrian is about to cross a zebra crossing. The pedestrian has to take into account traffic, but he has right of way. Belgian law is fairly strict in this regard and, when in doubt, tends to side with the pedestrian.

Picture a pedestrian standing at such a crossing. He is about to take his first step into the street when he spots a car doing twice the speed limit, racing towards him.

What is the smart move here?

  • Exercising your right to cross the street and end up crippled or dead?
  • Jumping back onto the sidewalk and continuing your life as before?

It used to be common sense to jump back.

What I see more and more of nowadays is people arguing that crossing the street and dying is more important. Because “how dare he infringe upon my rights!” and more along those lines.

I don’t disagree, that driver is completely in the wrong.

But you’re still dead.


Does that mean you have to let everything slide? No, of course not. Some things are worth fighting and dying for. But a truckload of things are not and in this age of social justice warriors and internet wisdom, that seems to have been lost. When it comes to violence, common sense is dying at an ever increasing rate. When you look at the comments on the internet about this cellphone case, the “it’s my right!” crowd is extremely well represented. Contrast that with those in law enforcement, the military and the other professions where violence is a daily occurrence: they all see what a potential for disaster this case is.

There used to be a time when civilians had enough common sense regarding violence to agree with them. Not so much anymore today.

I believe the chickens will come home to roost eventually as violence is inherent to mankind. Maybe we will one day evolve beyond it, but I doubt that.

Until that happens, having some common sense regarding it might serve you well.

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  1. Wow. And I thought this key case was a stupid idea:

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