It’s hard to do, but sometimes in crisis situations we should set aside the tactical swagger and instead: Do Nothing.
Well, not nothing. But engage through the ancient Daoist (Taoist) concept of wuwei – non-doing or non-action. Perhaps better thought of as the “action of non-action.”
Too ‘Tao of Poo” for you?
I hope not, because often the more we can do by “not doing,” the better… From the defensive standpoint, this could mean having enough awareness of situation, circumstances, and surroundings that we gather that something is “up” before it is upon us.
Spying that pair of sketchy dudes further down the block that seem to be paying you inordinate attention; or noticing the panhandler who seems to be “on something” at the entrance to the Safeway when you pull into the lot – avoiding any issue by not dealing with it to begin with – turning around or crossing the street in the first case, or going through a separate entrance in the second.
“What??” Some may bristle… I have a RIGHT to walk in this world, to go down the street or into the store unmolested and unintimidated!
“And if anyone tries anything I will make them wish they hadn’t!”
“I don’t WANT to walk away! Go Ahead, Make My DAY!”
That’s fine and all, and going through life this way. It likely will mean at some point surely needing self defense skills. Too often we seem to concentrate our training more on the Action part. And the Ego that attaches to it. Been there, done that. Common sense -and tactical thinking – often go out the window with the tough-talking and self-righteous mentality that arms- bearing promotes in some folks, usually more about insecurity than it is personal security.
In the police world we (derisively) refer to it as the “Contempt of Cop” mentality:
“I ayum the PO-lice! You will RESPECT my AUTHORITAH! I am the boss here!!”
“When I say jump you will do it and anything less is Obstructing!”
This is a bad habit to get into, and bad practice. When we start seeing situations as some kind of proving ground, the mission creep is complete, and we’ve missed the point altogether. With potentially life altering consequences.
This is by no means an appeal to “go along to get along.” It’s not “hug-a-thug,” nor is it conflict avoidance at any cost. It is simply picking one’s battles – a martial concept as ancient as Sun Tzu – and choosing between what should be let go, what we are willing to let go, and what we know we can’t let go.
Non-action requires confidence. In one’s own capabilities, so that there is no need to “prove” anything; and in our decision making, so that we can rest easy knowing that not acting was the right call. It won’t always be, but then you won’t always know…
If you reasonably believe violence is imminent, you should act.
If not, non-action is often the best course. Of course, not acting could include lots of action – observing facts and circumstances, paying attention to description, and to cues that might cause action to become necessary, “standing by to stand by” so to speak. Improving readiness through tactical positioning and mentally rehearsing and setting up a response…
Minding one’s business while simultaneously minding the situation.
This takes composure and self-assurance, and a lack of the need to prove oneself, or assert oneself “just because you can.”