Nice People Always Lose

Allan Milne Lees
5 min readOct 10, 2019

Some years ago, while on a trip back to the UK, I was walking with a friend through an ordinary English town. It was late, and the pubs were disgorging their inebriated clientele onto the streets. As is routine with me I dialed up my awareness and adjusted our path so as to stay reasonably clear of where people were clustering. My friend, a lovely man with a standard middle-class occupation, was talking happily about his most recent trip to India where he’d been working with a software development team.

What he wasn’t noticing, but I very much was attending to, were the four men who were now moving to intercept us. I made eye contact and reached a conclusion. I interrupted my friend and told him to switch on. Unfortunately his world wasn’t one in which situations like this develop so as the four men approached and I prepared to kick off my friend stopped in his tracks, confused by what was happening. Fortunately our assailants were neither skilled nor sober, so although we got banged up we walked away from the encounter, which is something none of the four were able to do.

My friend, being nice, was totally unprepared for random violence and had no means to cope with it. He simply froze. My reaction was different because my childhood was unstable and often violent and so from my early teens I acquired as many useful skills as I possibly could. When my friend felt confusion, I felt fear — and fear reliably delivered a dump of adrenaline that sharpened my reflexes while increasing my muscle power and decreasing my sensitivity to pain. I’ve been afraid many times so I’m used to the feeling. I know how to use it, rather than let it overwhelm me. I’m probably not a nice person, so I’m unhesitating about inflicting maximum damage on anyone who wants to try to f*ck with me.

Nice people don’t spend thousands of hours practicing unarmed combat. Sometimes they do sign up for sanitized martial arts classes but I’ve never seen one that was in any way realistic (and I speak as someone who wasted considerable time gaining black belts in various Japanese and Korean styles). Krav Maga, which when properly taught is the only useful self-defense method, wasn’t available when I was younger. So I had to cobble together things for myself: things that work when you’re afraid and up against people who are bigger and stronger and are carrying knives and…

Allan Milne Lees

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.