This blog post is part 2 of 2. To read part one, click here
There are few things more annoying than an “armchair quarterback”. It is easy to have an opinion when you didn’t participate. That being said, I am going be a hypocrite, so lets just take that as given. I offer no defense on my part for that; I only ask forgiveness, if necessary, for my speculation.
I hope that my previous article got you to see the better side of the people around you. I did note, however, that not everybody in the theater that night was a shining gem of humanity. Lets dive a little deeper into the subject, shall we?
I heard of one man who abandoned his girlfriend and her children for fear of his own life. His protector instinct was not functioning. Why not? Think carefully before slandering him as a coward.
There were reports of shell casings hitting people on the head, which would indicate that they may have been less than 10 feet away, and off to the side of the shooter. He was wearing a gas mask and therefore had limited peripheral vision. It appears that some people were located very close to the shooter and were not able to stop him. I don’t know all of the details, but I can’t escape the thought that it could have been stopped or at least slowed if only… If only what? That is the question, isn’t it?
In summary, some people failed to act, and others acted incorrectly. Why? I can’t be certain, as I am just an armchair quarterback, but I see a clue in our school’s zero tolerance policies and its unintended consequences. Society pressures us to be non-violent, and that is generally good, but maybe the over zealous zero tolerance policies of the schoolyards and other workplaces have left us without a mental “tool kit” to cope when somebody else is violent. When discussing school “bullies” with many of the children in my youth martial arts classes, I encounter a common theme. The bad kid doesn’t care if he or she gets in trouble, but the good kid feels helpless to stop him for fear of repercussions from the school administrators. So taking action even to defend one’s self (or a friend) gets removed from the possible options. As a result, bully problems in schools appear to be on the rise as the zero tolerance “solution” is more strictly enforced.
I recall several times when I have been told that violence is never the answer. I disagree. Try as we might to resolve things peacefully, once a situation reaches the point that that violence is the answer, it is the only answer, and will probably need to be served in generous portions. So back at the theater, perhaps those who behaved badly didn’t have any violence in their problem solving tool kit. They may never have considered it seriously. With that option removed, they were probably overwhelmed by the situation. Lets be fair, to be prepared for the unthinkable, one would have to think about it first. Somewhat paradoxical, isn’t it?
They may have never thought it through and readied themselves because “it would never happen to them”. Even while it was happening, they were telling themselves “this is not happening…” When they finally came to the realization that it was actually happening, and they needed to do something, they didn’t know what to do. Why not? Go back to the beginning of this paragraph and loop through it again…
That fatal loop is an exception to the rule. When you consider the statistics of it all, the chances are incredibly high that it wouldn’t happen to those people or anybody else. It is so unlikely, in fact, that one might be correct to say that it wouldn’t happen to them.
The odds are that it won’t happen to you either.
Seriously, it won’t… but it might. Ever buy lottery ticket? Do you get indoors during a thunderstorm? Do you have an insurance policy? Why?
Because things happen, that is why.
If you could go back in time and talk to the people in the theater two years ago what would you have them do to be ready to protect the people that they love? (“Don’t go to the opening show of Batman in 2012…” Yes, very insightful, but off the point.) So, could your advice apply to yourself? How do you know that you won’t need it some day? After all, things happen.
So, what are we talking about here? Attending a self defense seminar? Buying pepper spray? Taking a gun class? Those things are good. If that is all you can manage, then it is slightly better than nothing, but self defense skills are perishable and need regular maintenance. What I am talking about is training to think like a warrior. To be alert, resourceful and committed to action. The best way to maintain that mindset is regular and realistic training. It should not be so traditional that it overlooks modern weapons and realities, nor should it be so new that it discards the wisdom of over a thousand years of real experience.
It is time to address the elephant in the room: Is it even possible to fight a heavily armed and armored opponent with your bare hands? Can you actually be prepared? That is a tough one to answer. It has been done successfully, but rarely by someone without good training and a serious combat mindset. When you are beginning your training, the guy with the gun wins most of the time. Victory is eventually possible if you learn to always cheat.
Being unprepared for an attacker means that you don’t know the rules, and therefore can’t cheat.
(Yes, I know that there is another elephant in the room. The first rule of gun fighting is “Have a gun.” It is the best way to cheat. The reality of the situation is that it was illegal to have a gun in that theater. I don’t want to turn this into a political discussion. Draw your own conclusions.)
I hope that you have realized by now that you have people you will protect if you can. What this means is that whether you want to or not, you will step into harms way for them if the time ever comes. Wouldn’t it make sense to be ready for that? Reinforce that feeling with some ability and you’ll have a much better chance of being there for them the day after. Unlike the people we discussed above, you are going to have to think about it. Then you are going to have to do something with your conclusions.
The downside to all of this is that it will take time, which you probably don’t have. It will take money, which you probably can’t afford. Besides, nothing that bad will probably happen to you, right? Lets look at this from another angle for a moment: It is really a matter of priorities.
We all waste time and money. We watch too much TV. We buy stuff we don’t really need. You get the idea. Could you find something to exchange for some training time? What do you have to lose? Another re-run of “Friends” and a Chia Pet?
What do you have to gain? A chance. A chance to be more. A chance to be the difference. Not to mention health, peace of mind, friends, a good challenge… You know, quality of life.
You see, your people need you to be trained. Really, we all need you to be trained to defend yourself and the people you care about. The police can’t be everywhere. I can only speak for myself here, but I am tired of hearing about evil people getting away with terrible things. Maybe I would like to see the good in people a little more often without digging so deep. I would like more people to step up to the line and become somebody who can make that difference. It would only take a few, here and there, and wouldn’t that be a great world to live in?
If the recent shooting in Colorado taught us anything, it is that we can’t be complacent.
Think about it.