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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Economics of Violence

Anny Jacoby has an interesting post this morning over on the "Time's Up" blog. She hits a lot of interesting points, but the one that resonated with me the most is this:

There is one excuse, a major excuse ("It costs too much") that is extremely frustrating to those of us in this arena. It is completely understandable that people have financial challenges. You cannot put a price tag on a life. Most classes range between $100-$200, but yet many have no problem going out and spending this amount on dinner, buying clothes, getting their hair done and the list goes on. If you knew that you or your daughter would at sometime in either of your lives would be attacked, how much would you be willing to invest in some basic personal safety/self-defense training? I would hope that your answer would be "no limit". The problem is that people are willing to gamble with the odds of being attacked or assaulted instead of being proactive and learning personal safety/self-defense as an insurance policy.

Like Anny, I'm frequently frustrated by people's unwillingness to take even a small amount of time or money into improving their personal safety. I've even tried eliminating the financial excuse by offering free PDR seminars a few times. Even at the cost of zero, a surprising number of people found reasons not to participate.

In a poll I took a while back, I asked people why they wouldn't study self-defense. The few responses I got were rather interesting. Some used the excuse Anny alludes to ("too much money"). Some believed that their lifestyle was sufficiently safe that they would never need any such skills. Some believed that a short course couldn't really provide any usable skills.

Obviously, I reject a lot of those assumptions on a personal level, but that personal rejection doesn't help me reach anyone else. The question  now is not how to dismantle them in my own mind, but in the minds of others. It's a tough nut to crack.


Val Grimm said...

Like so many other things, it comes down to priorities. I have been bad about fitness or defense or going to shul because of conventions and literary projects. This is not something I like but it persists. I need to change it.

Schedules get full, often with frivolous things. What people need to do, in the end of it, is understand why NOW. Looking at laboratory safety, in general people think "it won't be me".
I do not have a disaster preparedness plan or bag. This unsettles me. Yet I feel foolish to be unsettled.

I am glad I have trained with you as I have, and I feel somewhat safer for it. But ultimately I also feed the need to train more, psychologically as well as physically. I still don't know what I would do in so many hypothetical situations. If I were mugged, if this, if that. Surroundings matter, combatants matter, but that is my biggest fear. Translating what I have learned physically into the world of psychology. Overcoming the deer in the headlights before someone comes for me with a knife.

Oddly, avoiding those situations I feel I'm better at, and once physical action is reached I feel that I could slow folks down enough to get away maybe.

But then, I have never tested what will happen when my knees turn to jelly. And I don't want to.

Thinking about our conversation at Sound Bites . . .

Crossbarphoto said...

Excellent post! I agree that people won't even bat an eye at a $100 dinner, yet they won't even consider taking a Personal Defense class.

It comes down to priorities in people's lives. Before the fact they won't spend a dime, but after the fact they would gladly pay 'any' amount to go back and be better prepared.

Thanks for providing this information and carrying the torch. Perhaps you can convince even one person to prepare themselves.


Jake said...

Tom, thanks for both reading and commenting. It looks like you're doing your own part to try and spread the message.

I hope/know I've reached a few people out there. I'd just like to reach more.


I totally understand the issues behind people's thinking, at least on an intellectual level. I'm just not sure how to shake people out of it. And how to do so while avoiding the fear-mongering tactics that some schools use, which I find unpalatable at best.

Another Soundbites trip might be in order (though I still like Ball Square Cafe better. :-))

Craig said...

It's a great discussion point Jake. I've been thinking that one over for ages in my head and can't get it straight. I don't Blog much but I did right this for our website in a similar vain.

Jake said...


Nice article. I found the offer of donating the class fee to a local charity particularly interesting.

Of course, half the challenge is just getting the message out there. We write these articles, but unfortunately, I think they are read mostly by people already in the community. I'd like to get them to people who aren't in it...