Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Defending Others: Be Careful

What would you do if you were alone, and you witnessed a woman or child being beat by a man? Would your instincts be to try and stop it? What if it was abuse but obviously not life threatening? What if you were not alone, but with your spouse or children?
This is a very difficult thing to try to prepare for because there are always circumstances that may change your response. If you are not a peace officer, and we are still in “rule of law” then the best advice may be to not respond directly but to get the attackers attention and let him know the police are on their way. If the attack shifts to you and yours, then of course, your response will change. Here are some examples from true stories.
“In 2002 my wife and I were at a hill tribe market in a remote part of northern Vietnam. We were the only foreigners there. We turned a corner and saw a man beating a woman, with a small crowd circling them. The woman was bleeding, and the man kept punching her. I really wanted to step in and nail the guy, but I had no idea what would happen if I did. Would the crowd of people attack me? There were sharp farming tools on the ground all over the market. I could have been swarmed and killed. Or, I could have ended up in a Vietnamese jail. What would have happened to my wife? As hard as it was, I think I made the right decision…to walk on.

On another occasion my wife and I had a couple of friends over to watch a movie at our house. During the movie we heard a woman screaming outside. We went to the window and a man was chasing a woman around a car parked in front of our house. My wife ran to the phone to call the police, but as soon as she picked it up the man jumped across the hood of the car, grabbed the woman, and put her in a rear choke hold, choking her. Without thinking, I went straight out the front door, moving to stop the guy. It was dark, and I had no idea if the guy had a weapon. I went outside so quickly that I didn’t even consider grabbing a weapon myself. Fortunately, as I got close to the guy he let go of the woman and she ran away. He turned and walked away too. I got lucky. When I came back in my wife asked me if I was crazy. I made a mistake. Although what I did was perhaps normal and definitely understandable, in my neighborhood it could have easily resulted in me getting shot.

Yesterday a good friend of mine emailed me and told me about a situation that had just occurred. His brother stopped a driver (with a passenger) from driving away after hitting a parked car. The driver got mad, the situation escalated, and he grabbed my friend by the shirt and attempted to hit him. My friend hit him first and dropped him. But then the passenger had grabbed my friend from behind, trying to hit him. This continued for a bit, with my friend fortunately getting the better of the situation. But it could have easily gone another way. The passenger could have stabbed my friend in the back. Would it have been worth it, to potentially stop someone from getting away with a hit and run?”

These 3 scenarios are all different. As we strive to be a sheepdog we will be presented with these situations. Part of the warrior mindset is to be able to make quick decisions and assess when a situation presents itself. We must think fast. The first situation I believe the author made the right choice. In a foreign country with a loved one, and probably not armed, would have been a bad move to get involved. The second situation the author made what I think is the right choice, but in the wrong way. He should have had someone with him, and should have stopped for a weapon. Always have the advantage if you can. Make sure the odds are in your favor if the situation turns to self defense because you are trying to defend someone else.
The third situation should not have happened at all. Get the information the police may need and report what you saw. There is no reason to put yourself in danger for property damage.

Being there for your family is what you are responsible for. Helping your fellow man is important but you must be smart about it. The police have a job to do and they do it well. If you are not the police then you shouldn’t try to do their job. If you see a threat of harm or eminent death then you should stop it. This should be done smart also. It may feel wrong to stand by while someone attacks a smaller or weaker person, and some people may be unable to do that, but you have to consider the consequences of getting involved for those who depend on you. If you do decide to get involved, you should do everything you can to accurately assess the situation first, and to minimize the damage you do.

If you come upon a situation where someone is doing something wrong, like a hit and run on a parked car, but no one is actually in danger, you definitely shouldn’t get involved. You’re not the police, and it’s none of your business. Don’t put yourself in danger.

Being a good citizen isn’t always clear and defending others is not easy. Each situation must be evaluated quickly to determine whether you should something, what you should do, or do nothing at all.

Being a member of the LDS Church we want to help others any way we can. Service and compassion are important to us. Don’t let these good tendencies blind you to real consequences and danger you could have if you get involved. Do what you can when you can. Remember the security of your family is always at stake. I know this sounds selfish but often we talk about those who run into the fight only to not make it. We sometime call these people a hero. In some ways sacrificing yourself for someone else is heroic. It seems I’m telling you the opposite. And in some ways I am. If you are a dead hero and you could have not been involved you would still be there for your family. Which is more heroic, doing the day-to-day things to care for your family and keeping them secure, or giving your life needlessly? You notice I said “needlessly”?

I know this is not an easy subject, but it is one you need to consider and decide what is most important. Defend those who can’t defend themselves but not to the detriment of your family.

Semper Paratus