Friday, October 30, 2015

On Being Violent: Your Violence Threshold

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
― George Orwell

How do you sleep? Are you secure in the knowledge that your family and your property are safe?
I have been involved with guns for many years. Guns are often associated with violence. Violence and self-defense go hand in hand. There is a lot out there being talked about concerning violence. War, terrorism, crime all have violence directly linked to them. Does this all make you think that violence is bad? Violence is horrible and scary, but is it bad?
Do you think the Jew of WWII thought that the violence of the Allies was bad? I’m pretty sure they thought the German violence was bad.
Was the violent training and practice that led to the liberation of the Jews bad violence? I’m sure the Jews did not think so. But it is complicated.

Violence is neither purely good nor purely bad and value judgments about violence are based on your perspective. Think of any active shooter situation and the murderer’s use of violence was always horrible, but in almost every case, the length of time that they were able to murder people was limited by a moral and ethical person who also used violence. Violence took lives. Violence saved lives. And in many cases, “gun violence” saved lives.

The more empathetic you are, the more disgusting, repulsive, and horrible violence seems and, ironically, the more vital it is that you become fluent in the language and art of violence.

Violent people don’t need to take a class on violence. They don’t need a course. They don’t need to learn how to do what they already do to control and manipulate people on a regular basis.

Sheep, the people who are the most repulsed by violence, are the ones who need to learn violence the most, because they’re the ones who are the easiest targets for someone who’s willing to use violence to get what they want. In the times when reason and diplomacy don’t work, if your attacker is speaking the language of violence, it’s too late to start learning the language. You’ve got to know how to dance before you get to the ball. Sheepdogs have this figured out. They live in the polite world, but are ready to flip the switch or turn the intensity knob and defend themselves and possibly others at a moment’s notice.

Here is a quote from Tim Larkin, creator of Target Focus Training.

“Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is, it’s the ONLY answer.”

Civilization is a tricky thing. Often negotiation, posturing, even mild physical contact will take care of a civilized society. Real violence is seldom the answer. Even a bar fight where a limited amount of punches are thrown is not real violence. It’s kind of a show. You ever see a fight that didn’t end up “wrestling” on the floor? Traffic faux paus like pulling in front of someone rarely escalates into real violence.
But when someone breaks in your front door with a mask and a gun they have crossed several lines that say that they are ready for real violence. You’re not going to “talk down” the home invader. They hit you fast and hard for a reason. The shock, the fear, the control, all play into something that is raw violence.

Here is another quote from my friend Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL. (Actually I never met the man, but would have liked to)

“Despite what your momma told you, violence solves problems.”

Is this the rambling of an ate up military member? No. He speaks truth from experience. He solved a bunch of problems with violence. How many troops were saved because of his violence? Hundreds if not more. Violence solves problems that are created by violence. So I guess the saying “Violence begets violence” is true. The difference is that there is good violence and bad violence. God used violence throughout scripture when nothing else worked. Violence solves problems when nothing else will…when all else has failed. The basis of military action and law enforcement is violence. Controlled, righteous violence. Hopefully righteous violence makers will use just enough violence to stop the bad violence. That gets sticky sometimes. Good people have crossed the line into the dark side of violence at times and been bit by it.
Violence only works when your ability and willingness to use force goes beyond your attacker’s. So if your attacker’s violence threshold is at a certain level to get what he wants, your violence threshold must be at least equal or higher. If not, you will lose. This where sheep and sheepdog alike should train and practice skills necessary to raise your violence threshold that can be turned on at any moment. This is especially important for people who aren’t wired for violence.

The ability to raise your threshold on command that allows an innocent, kind, and loving person to be kind and loving when there’s no threat. But effective in their response when confronted by a guy with a knife to their throat. If they want to remain kind and loving then they have to raise the violence threshold. Not just with intensity, but with effective intensity. A 130 pound woman hammer fisting a chest has a much different effect than striking a throat with the same intensity. Scratching the face leaves embarrassing marks…scratching the eyeball is life-changing.

How do you do this? How do you take someone who isn’t wired for fighting and give them the ability to “flip the switch” and take care of business if the need arises?

This is in two steps.

First is avoiding as many violent encounters as possible and that will be the best first step for many people who think they’re opposed to violence.

Regardless, the smartest and most effective way to “not lose” a fight is not to fight in the first place.

This means practicing situational awareness.
An important element of the proper mindset is to first recognize that threats exist. Ignorance or denial of a threat — or completely tuning out one's surroundings while in a public place — makes a person's chances of quickly recognizing the threat and avoiding it slim to none. This is why apathy, denial and complacency can be (and often are) deadly. Another important element is understanding the need to take responsibility for one's own security. The resources of any government are finite and the authorities simply cannot be everywhere and cannot stop every criminal action. The same principle applies to private security at businesses or other institutions, like places of worship. Therefore, people need to look out for themselves and their neighbors.
Another important facet of this mindset is learning to trust your "gut" or intuition. Members of the LDS church will recognize this as the Spirit. Many times a person's subconscious can notice subtle signs of danger that the conscious mind has difficulty recognizing. Many people who are victimized frequently experience such feelings of danger prior to an incident, but choose to ignore them. Even a potentially threatening person not making an immediate move — or even if the person wanders off quickly after a moment of eye contact — does not mean there was no threat.
People typically operate on four distinct levels of awareness. There are many ways to describe these levels ("Cooper's colors," for example, which is a system frequently used in law enforcement and military training), but perhaps the most effective way to illustrate the differences between the levels is to compare them to the different degrees of attention we practice while driving. For our purposes here we will refer to the four levels as "tuned out" (or White), "relaxed awareness" (Yellow), "focused awareness" (Orange), and "high alert" (Red).
The first level, tuned out, is like when you are driving in a very familiar environment or are engrossed in thought, a daydream, a song on the radio or even by the kids fighting in the backseat. Increasingly, cell phone calls and texting are also causing people to tune out while they drive. Have you ever gotten into the car and arrived somewhere without even really thinking about your drive there? If so, then you've experienced being tuned out.
The second level of awareness, relaxed awareness, is like defensive driving. This is a state in which you are relaxed but you are also watching the other cars on the road and are looking well ahead for potential road hazards. If another driver looks like he may not stop at the intersection ahead, you tap your brakes to slow your car in case he does not. Defensive driving does not make you weary, and you can drive this way for a long time if you have the discipline to keep yourself at this level, but it is very easy to slip into tuned-out mode. If you are practicing defensive driving you can still enjoy the trip, look at the scenery and listen to the radio, but you cannot allow yourself to get so engrossed in those distractions that they exclude everything else. You are relaxed and enjoying your drive, but you are still watching for road hazards, maintaining a safe following distance and keeping an eye on the behavior of the drivers around you.
The next level of awareness, focused awareness, is like driving in hazardous road conditions. You need to practice this level of awareness when you are driving on icy or slushy roads — or the roads infested with potholes and erratic drivers that exist in many third-world countries. When you are driving in such an environment, you need to keep two hands on the wheel at all times and have your attention totally focused on the road and the other drivers. You don't dare take your eyes off the road or let your attention wander. There is no time for cell phone calls or other distractions. The level of concentration required for this type of driving makes it extremely tiring and stressful. A drive that you normally would not think twice about will totally exhaust you under these conditions because it demands your prolonged and total concentration.
The fourth level of awareness is high alert. This is the level that induces an adrenaline rush, a prayer and a gasp for air all at the same time — "Watch out! There's a deer in the road! Hit the brakes!" This also happens when that car you are watching doesn't stop at the stop sign and pulls out right in front of you. High alert can be scary, but at this level you are still able to function. You can hit your brakes and keep your car under control. In fact, the adrenalin rush you get at this stage can sometimes even aid your reflexes. But, the human body can tolerate only short periods of high alert before becoming physically and mentally exhausted.
Now that we've discussed the different levels of awareness, let's focus on identifying what level is ideal at a given time. The body and mind both require rest, so we have to spend several hours each day at the comatose level while asleep. When we are sitting at our homes watching a movie or reading a book, it is perfectly fine to operate in the tuned-out mode. However, some people will attempt to maintain the tuned-out mode in decidedly inappropriate environments (e.g., when they are out on the street at night in a third-world barrio), or they will maintain a mindset wherein they deny that they can be victimized by criminals. "That couldn't happen to me, so there's no need to watch for it." They are tuned out.
Some people are so tuned out as they go through life that they miss even blatant signs of pending criminal activity directed specifically at them. In 1992, an American executive living in the Philippines was kidnapped by a Marxist kidnapping gang in Manila known as the "Red Scorpion Group." When the man was debriefed following his rescue, he described in detail how the kidnappers had blocked off his car in traffic and abducted him. Then, to the surprise of the debriefing team, he said that on the day before he was abducted, the same group of guys had attempted to kidnap him at the exact same location, at the very same time of day and driving the same vehicle. The attackers had failed to adequately box his car in, however, and his driver was able to pull around the blocking vehicle and proceed to the office.
Since the executive did not consider himself to be a kidnapping target, he had just assumed that the incident the day before his abduction was "just another close call in crazy Manila traffic." The executive and his driver had both been tuned out. Unfortunately, the executive paid for this lack of situational awareness by having to withstand an extremely traumatic kidnapping, which included almost being killed in the dramatic Philippine National Police operation that rescued him.
If you are tuned out while you are driving and something happens — say, a child runs out into the road or a car stops quickly in front of you — you will not see the problem coming. This usually means that you either do not see the hazard in time to avoid it and you hit it, or you totally panic and cannot react to it — neither is good. These reactions (or lack of reaction) occur because it is very difficult to change mental states quickly, especially when the adjustment requires moving several steps, say, from tuned out to high alert. It is like trying to shift your car directly from first gear into fifth and it shudders and stalls. Many times, when people are forced to make this mental jump and they panic (and stall), they go into shock and will actually freeze and be unable to take any action — they go comatose. This happens not only when driving but also when a criminal catches someone totally unaware and unprepared. While training does help people move up and down the alertness continuum, it is difficult for even highly trained individuals to transition from tuned out to high alert. This is why police officers, federal agents and military personnel receive so much training on situational awareness.
Second, is the psychological ability to flip the switch and the physical ability to follow through on it. This means knowing exactly which targets on your attacker will stop the fight fastest, what bodypart to use as your impact weapon to have the most effect, and the body mechanics necessary to cause the most damage, regardless of your age, size, strength, or speed.
There are many who can’t get through to their loved ones that they need “violent” skills to protect themselves from violence. And that having a violence threshold that has the ability to “go to red” doesn’t mean that they’ll suddenly go there and stay there any more than having a speedometer that goes to 140 will make you a speeder.

So if you’re someone who is “more sensitive than most” you must go out of your comfort zone to learn the craft of violence. What would you tell someone to convince them of the need to learn some skills that may be a little uncomfortable at first.

Being meek will help you to “..inherit the earth.” Being mild, kind, humble, and teachable are all things we should all strive for. But when you need to turn up your violence threshold, you need something to draw from. Get some training, practice, and keep learning. Be realistic and know that bad things can happen to you and good people. Be ready and prepared.
Is there “good violence”? I think there can be.
Semper Paratus
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