Let me lead off on a quote from A Girl:
The reasons are many and complicated and are not the same for everyone, but to some extent I think for most it is simply because it is what we want to believe. Many of us are conditioned and many of us are naive, but there is more to it. I believe we accept these ineffective ways to keep us safe because they are what we want to be true. We want to believe that the world is basically a rosy place where bad things don’t happen to good people and when they do they are so rare, we need not worry about it. AND we want what is easy.
If you haven’t read her post, “I Believe, I Believe. It Is Silly, But I Believe,” it’s worth the time. I point to her post because it, mainly that quote, is honestly what inspired the following train of thoughts through my head.
People naturally tend to rationalize away things they do not like, things they do not want to hear, or things that would otherwise bring them discomfort. While every last one of those points are valid and extremely important it misses probably the most critical one of all.
What could she have missed? She has that bad exists in the world, some are naïve, and that ultimately we want those simple things to be true. So what critical item do I think was left out?
A very ugly truth that not everyone can handle or accept. That truth is this:
In the defense of my family or myself I may have to strike another human being. Not only may I have to strike that person, but I may be forced to take their life in defense of my family or myself in order to stop the attack.
Many people cannot handle this. We are brought up in a society where doing such a thing is viewed with great disdain and shunned, and rightfully so when life is taken for the wrong reasons. Many people group all killing into that single group. For them there is no acceptable reason to kill another human being. Not even to kill them to prevent them from killing you.
Not only as a society is this shunned, but many people lock up at even contemplating the fact they may be force to take the life of another human being. It is not entirely their fault either. We are wired genetically to not want to kill each other.
There can be no doubt that this resistance to killing one’s fellow man is there and that it exists as a result of a powerful combination of instinctive, rational, environmental, hereditary, cultural, and social factors. It is there, it is strong, and it gives us cause to believe that there may just be hope for mankind after all.1
No person really likes the idea that they may end up having to kill another, honestly most will do what they can to prevent it. Many of us who do finally accept this ugly truth have spent hours agonizing over and finally understanding that the circumstances that lead to that situation are ultimately out of our control. While yes we can do things to mitigate our chances of an encounter, ultimately the decision to start the conflict does not ride with us. We know, understand, and accept this. Not everyone is so willing to accept the reality of this fact.
Many will constantly rationalize that somehow they can avoid any conflict that might befall them. They will falsely rationalize to themselves that if the aggressor gets what they want it will go no further. They ignore and disregard the idea that some people don’t want anything other than to see someone in pain and die. They do not understand how the other side ultimately views this situation. They cannot comprehend the following so eloquently put by Malcolm Reynolds.
“I didn’t kill him, he killed himself. I just carried the bullet for a while.”
Yes, I make the decision to defend myself, and yes I make the decision on the level of force necessary to apply. The most critical decision though in that whole chain though was the person who decided to victimize my family or me. If he had not have chosen to attack, invade, or otherwise do something against my family or myself, I would have never needed to make either of those two decisions. The second decision ultimately is also based on the aggressors decisions as well. Ultimately though the first decision must be made in advance and the gravity and reality of the potential consequences of the second decision accepted. Many people cannot do that, they cannot accept that, they cannot comprehend why contemplation would even be necessary. Many of us look at the story of A Girl, or the excerpt in her post from “Armed and Female” and a roll of realization and acceptance flow through us.
Many who read this have already accepted the harsh realities A Girl points out in her quote, but we’ve also accepted the consequences of that truth. It is those consequences I believe most people have a serious problem with whether they’re willing to admit it or not. Without accepting those consequences there is not much left in the toolbox for survival. The natural response then is to rationalize and attempt to hide the problem.
I have touched before on why I carry a gun, and some have argued and told me that people carry a gun out of fear and being afraid.
I don’t carry a gun because I’m afraid of criminals. I don’t carry a gun because I think someone is out to get me. I carry a gun because if and when the devil arrives at my door I have one mission and one mission alone: Assure that my wife and myself arrive home in one piece, no worse for wear. The condition I leave the devil in is entirely up to him. He may end up hospitalized, he may end up just scratched and bruised, he may even end up dead. My decisions though center around my mission and I will do what I feel is necessary to guarantee that outcome. If you don’t like it, don’t try and attack my family or me, it is honestly that simple. However I have realized and accepted this ugly truth an the potential consequences that go with it.
1-Grossman, Dave. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995. 39. Print.