Be the attacker or attacked?

Please do not watch the following clip of a home invasion if you cannot bear witness to real violence, which is consequentially different from that dramatized in action movies, video games and combat sports. However, if you are willing to examine this appalling incident as an informing opportunity, let us assume the violent act captured below was unexpected and unavoidable — as are most such confrontations.

Most humans are reasonably socialized since youth to not hit or hurt others, yet there are dangerous exceptions who deliberately flaunt this golden rule to great effect. Unfortunately, they often cannot be stopped by other than raw physical means, the very ones they employ and we abhor. The regrettable fact is that criminals can and do attack members of their own species. Our primary, albeit tenuous, comfort is their relative rarity. Though this behavior is the norm among animals, our anthropocentric bias likes to project us as above the natural fray. The immediacy of unprovoked violence precludes psychosocial analysis of the predator, who is better evaluated after his incapacitation. Conversely, success behooves the imminent victim to flip off that inner switch controlling our thoughts, words and deeds of rationalizing civility, for these are irrelevant if not detrimental to survival.

When watching this disturbing situation unfold, we understandably tend to identify with the woman or perhaps her child. This is not because we masochistically want to experience the horror she did, but because of the subconscious power of our status quo education. However, ironically, an effective solution lies in entertaining an unsettling thought experiment. Imagine yourself as the vicious assailant and adopt his strategy. Is he not the one that walks away unscathed?

In no other context does his brutal efficacy warrant emulation but within the realm of actual violence. Invasive manipulation of basic anatomy and physiology is not solely the professional scope of psychopaths and surgeons. Any trained adult can learn to apply it. Similar to surgery, violence is not a final but temporary expedient. We simply must overcome our moralistic indoctrination to reclaim the prerogative of efficiently violent skills from those experts who wield it for any other purpose than Self-Defense. A bold mindset can free our willing bodies to express an extreme range of humanity we usually fear — that of an intent attacker — but for one purpose only. When the single remaining option is to attack or not to attack, to be the attacker or the attacked, what is your existential choice?

I am grateful in this particular instance that neither the woman nor her children were raped or killed, unlike innumerable daily cases against women worldwide. We may enjoy the luxury of leading pleasant lives by conveniently neglecting certain statistical truths. Is this responsible? Perhaps not so in the literal sense of being able to respond, and ideally with a properly trained plan. Those brave enough to peer through the translucent veil of civilization, which insulates us from asocial violence, will decidedly train to rely on competence rather than luck; to deeply trust themselves rather than hope for tardy heroes; to prepare for worst case scenarios rather than pretend all will always be good. Until the last thread of violence is bred out of Homo sapiens sapiens, there is a practical need, if not duty, for everyone to earn at least a solid foundation in functional Self-Defense.

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