Common sense and self defense

Watch this first before you read my thoughts on common sense and self-defense:

Next, read Kathy’s thoughts on this video. She’s a firearms instructor and author of a good book on firearms for women. It’s a short piece and she makes a point I want to expand upon.


Common sense and self-defense

First, look up “anthropomorphism” if you need to.  Since when does it work to treat a bear like a person and argue with him, plead with him, threaten him or whine his ears off? The answer: since too many people have lost touch with nature and are increasingly shielded from danger in daily life. As a result, they don’t know how to handle things like dangerous animals and other high-risk situations.


Second, Kathy’s comments are spot on: certain types of criminals don’t care about your whining or pleading. They just hurt or kill you regardless of what you think or feel. This used to be common knowledge and common sense too. Not anymore, like a lot of other things. Some examples…
One of my students works in third world countries. He told me the story of having a new (young) colleague come over to Ethiopia and they were driving around to show her the place. All is well until she accidentally runs over a goat on the road.

He urges her to drive on. She doesn’t.

He tells her to just drop some money out the window and not get out. She doesn’t.

Instead, she stops, gets out and makes a big deal out of how she feels and “Ohgodohgodohgod!” Problem is, the owner of the goat, with his AK47 slung over his shoulder, comes walking up and he’s upset. Upset as in, it won’t take long before he starts shooting. My student manages to deescalate, they pay the guy a sum that allows him to buy several goats and they end up being invited to eat the goat with the other villagers.

Here’s the thing: the milk the local got from that goat is what allowed him to survive. No milk, no income. No income, him dead. That’s the reality of his life and the country he lives in. So him shooting them would only be revenge for killing his only shot at an income. Which makes total sense from his point of view and in that context. For a young Western woman, that sounds insane. Understandably so, but that’s not the point. This is:

When somebody with tons of experience in these countries tells you to not get out and floor it, common sense (and self-defense in this case) dictates you do as he says…


Another story:

Somebody I care about works in a big building in a big city that is owned by her boss. Nobody else is in the building, ever.  I was on my way to see her when she calls: a guy just walked into her office and then ran off when she confronted him. She slammed the door and locked herself in, but she was panicking. I told her to call the cops and hurried over.

Cops didn’t show, so me and her boss cleared the building to make sure he wasn’t hiding. She was afraid to be left alone and insisted on coming with us. I disagreed, but it wasn’t my call to make. Here’s the thing: instead of following us, she took the lead several times, opening doors quickly. I had to grab her and pull her behind us, telling her to stand back…

Once help arrived, she felt safe enough to act in a dangerous manner, because in her mind, we would handle it if the guy suddenly stood in front of her (he was gone, but we didn’t know that at the time.) I had a difficult talk with her afterwards.


Last story:

The last time I worked as a bouncer, I was supposed to have a bunch of other guys as back up but they didn’t show up. Instead, the organizers of the event insist I work with a bunch of teenagers… The organizers were family, so I couldn’t leave them hanging and went to work: me as the only adult security for a crowd of several hundred and copious amounts of alcohol are being served. What could go wrong?

I do the best I can and the night progresses well, despite the seven or eight-strong crew of thugs I know is there (and had let know I had seen them). Inevitably, something happens and I have to throw a guy out. This sets the hyenas off and they start yipping and try to engage me. I don’t take the bait and keep working them all out the door. There’s a crowd hanging around so this takes a while, but eventually they are all off the property and in the street: no longer my problem, I walk away.

I’m about to go back inside when I do another check and see that one of the teenagers there to “help” me is standing in the middle of the street, trying to hold back the thugs from going after three drunks they have targeted… Common sense and self-defense are apparently two alien concepts to that kid.

I tell the other kids to stay back and go into the street, walk up to the kid and tell him to follow me as I give the thugs non-verbal warning that I’m ready. He refuses and argues that they’ll beat up the drunks.  I tell him to follow me now. He does and I spend a few tense seconds making sure the thugs still understand I’m not playing. We make it back inside OK and I explain to him he would have been the first guy bleeding on the ground (I might have raised my voice as I said that.) He seemed to understand, finally.

Common sense and self defense

What’s the point?

All these stories and the one with the bear have a common denominator: the people involved showed a complete lack of common sense in relation to self-defense. They engaged in dangerous behavior to themselves and others not necessarily out of malice, but out of ignorance. Violence, both human and animal, was an unknown factor in their lives. So they didn’t understand the risks they were taking or how their behavior made things worse.

I see this trend growing in today’s society. I don’t think I’m ready to yell the kids to get off my lawn, but it seems I’m seeing this kind of thing a lot more than before : people lacking basic knowledge and skill to keep themselves safe.

Self-defense is for a large part common sense; a body of knowledge of how the world works and how to interpret situations. It looks like a lot of information is getting lost because our (Western) world has become safer.  The problem is that the world is bigger than the West and even there, you can find areas that are more… “primitive”. Meaning, you’re never 100% safe, no matter where you live.

I could whine about this, but instead I choose to try to raise some awareness on this topic by writing and teaching. It isn’t much, but every little bit helps…

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