The Illusion of Safety

Two of my favorite authors were Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy. They wrote The Destroyer series of books, and long after they stopped writing, the genre continued on with plots becoming more outlandish and less believable (not that any of the stories were apt to be mistaken for truth).  They were the pulpiest of pulp fiction, and I never missed a single novel.

According to legend, Sapir would write the hero, Remo Williams, into a jam, and Murphy would write him out of it. At times the pair went through a rough patch and couldn’t stand one another. Throughout the series Remo and his mentor, Chuin, came to the rescue of the country by, predictably, killing people.  Although a TV pilot was tried, it fizzled, and Remo and Chuin have remained legendary through novels, not movies.

I put all this into context for two reasons: one, you might want to consider finding Created, the Destroyer, and reading it, and the books that follow it. They are good reads, enjoyable escapist literature by two fine writers.  Two, there are elements of wisdom contained in the series .  I have adopted one of those as my mantra in life.

In one of the books Chuin tells the story of a king who feared an assassin, so he hired a wise man from outside the village to help him protect himself. At the direction of the wise man, the king surrounded himself with guards. Everywhere he went he went with protection. Then one day the wise man told him that if he really wanted to be safe, he had to do one more thing. He took the king, without his guards, into the woods, and handed him a shovel. “Dig,” he told the king. The king did and when he had a big enough hole dug he asked how this would make him safe. The wise man, who was actually the assassin hired to kill him, said “you are now in your grave, the safest place you’ll ever be.” Then he killed him.

Chuin then explained the moral of the story: no greater enemy exists than your own illusion of safety. Think about that for a moment.  If that doesn’t resonate with you, you’re not paying attention.

Each of us in our daily lives has an illusion of safety. Riding in our car, we think “nothing will happen to us.” Sitting in the restaurant we think “this will be a quiet meal.” Walking through the mall we are more concerned with sale flyers than the olive-skinned man carrying that awkward gym bag and muttering something like “All up bath bar.” And because we live in a country with good police protection, and a system of laws, in most cases our illusion of safety is very real.

Until it isn’t.  San Bernadino, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Ohio State University.  The world is not a safe place.

On only one of the four aircraft hijacked on 9/11 did passengers organize a resistance. The rest went meekly to their deaths, their illusion of safety securing their compliance. As the Ft. Lauderdale shooter began shooting, people could only run. Omar Mateen walked brazenly into a club and opened fire. The fact is that we all go in to “no gun zones.” Only good manners and a desire to obey the law keep us from taking our firearms with us.  We know that being in one of these “no gun zones” is a sure invitation to meet persons who do not respect those signs, and whose goal is to kill a lot more of us.

That’s why training with firearms alone is not enough to keep you safe. Every person needs some basic self-defense skills that they can employ to save their life. You need to know strike points and how to incapacitate an attacker with no more than your bare hands, because that may be the only thing you have.

I can hear you now. “I’m too old.” “I’m out of shape.” Nonsense. It takes 30 pounds of pressure to dislocate a knee; it takes even less to gouge an eye. It’s the training and practice and the willingness to do these things that matters.

One day someone could shatter your illusion of safety. If that happens, you need to be able to defend yourself without your weapon of choice. The time to start thinking about this is now.

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