The crucial difference between seeking improvements versus a sense of entitlement

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Let’s begin unambiguously: any kind of assault is a bad thing. No one deserves to be on the receiving end of an unprovoked assault.

No one deserves to be attacked merely because of their clothing or gender or skin color or any other superficial signifier. Such actions are abhorrent, which is why civilized countries have laws that clearly define such assaults as serious crimes carrying the threat of serious punishment.

Unfortunately, there are individuals for whom the law is no deterrent.

Often these people come from broken homes or suffer from some type of malady that impairs their ability to empathize with others. Some people are just mean for no apparent reason. Societies have sought ways to minimize the harm such folk can cause ever since we began to group together in towns and cities. And so far, there’s been no magic formula, no magic answer.

Which means that there can be no absolute guarantees of personal safety, no matter how much we’d like such a thing to be possible.

Over the last handful of years I’ve been struck by what appears to be a consistent narrative among a certain kind of woman. The narrative insists that every single woman should at all times and in all places be absolutely free of any fear of any form of assault. If this condition doesn’t pertain it’s clearly someone’s fault and the problem needs to be rectified, ideally immediately. Probably it’s all the fault of the patriarchy, whatever that undefined abstraction may happen to mean.

But here’s the thing: I have the undeniable advantage of being a man. I’ve over 45 years of experience in unarmed and armed combat, under realistic conditions and across a wide range of possible situations. Even at the age of 60 my reflexes are still sharp and I can still deliver blows with sufficient force and accuracy to put down most assailants and I know from sufficient past experience that I’ll never hesitate to do so when necessary. In jurisdictions where it’s appropriate, I may augment my capabilities with suitable tools.

And yet… I never expect the world to ensure my safety.

There are places I stay away from, things I don’t do, times of day I don’t regard as ideal, and types of people from whom I prefer to keep my distance.

In many places, having assessed the likely threat level, I’ll be aware, switched on, set to amber. In such circumstances I try to be the “gray man” blending in unobtrusively, the person no one notices and therefore doesn’t target. This attitude has saved me more than once while working in less salubrious parts of the world.

And when being aware fails, as sometimes it will, I’ve unhesitatingly used overwhelming violence to ensure my personal safety or the safety of those for whom I’ve felt responsible.

There is therefore an enormous and potentially fatal difference between having an inflated sense of entitlement and making a realistic appraisal of one’s surroundings and adapting accordingly.

Sure, it may feel lovely to blame the world for the fact we’re not perfectly and absolutely safe at all times and in all places and in all circumstances. It may be satisfying to place blame on individuals or abstractions for this unfortunate reality. But ultimately that’s an attitude that may get you hurt or killed, because it’s profoundly unrealistic.

The world is what it is, and it won’t change itself instantly in order to accommodate our wishes.

Yes, we should agitate for more adequate policing and better remedial options for offenders both actual and potential. Yes, we should be very clear that it’s never the fault of the victim that they’ve been subjected to an unprovoked assault.

These things are so obvious we can take them as given, even in backward nations like the USA where the idea of rehabilitating offenders is barely even discussed (hence the astonishingly high recidivism rates in the USA versus countries where remediation is practiced).

But wandering about with an inflated sense of entitlement won’t achieve any positive outcome. It may just get someone killed.

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