By David Cole
-(Ammoland.com)- I’ve been engaged in a conversation with friends recently on the topic of pacifism, or perhaps more accurately, choosing to be non-violent.
Our discussion centered on the recent incident in Georgia in which Antoinette Tuff, an office worker in an elementary school, successfully de-escalated what could have been a tragedy.
First, a disclaimer: What I am about to say is not intended to disparage or diminish Ms. Tuff, or what she did. I give her full marks for courage and resourcefulness in the face of mortal danger. Without a doubt, she saved many lives through her actions that day. She performed bravely, she is a hero, and I very sincerely salute her.
But I have seen a tendency in the aftermath of this incident to hold her up as some sort of peaceful warrior, as if her actions that day were born of compassionate non-violence, rather than necessity. This observation has been a catalyst for an examination of what it means to be a pacifist, or to be non-violent.
Said jujutsu master Yukiyoshi Takamura:
“A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence. He chooses peace. He must be able to make a choice. He must have the genuine ability to destroy his enemy and then choose not to.”
I submit that…as expressed in the quote above…if you do not have the ability or the tools to respond to violence with violence of your own, then your “choice” to respond non-violently to danger is in fact a non-choice.
It is an absence of options. If non-violence is the only tool in your tool belt, guess what you’re going to use?
As an aside, I do take issue with anyone who claims to be a pacifist as a life philosophy, unless they also forswear the option of calling police when violence comes a-knocking. If you can’t or don’t want to provide for your own defense, that is your choice. If you prefer to have the police come administer violence on your behalf, they will do that. And that’s perfectly OK. We hire others to do jobs for us all the time, either out of necessity or convenience. But I don’t think you can call yourself a pacifist if you simply plan to farm out your violence to a third party.
But if you do wish to participate in your own personal safety, having more tools gives you more options, and more options is always better. Like Antoinette Tuff, I have verbal de-escalation training. But I also have defensive empty hands training. I have pepper spray, and a high-powered flashlight. I have a knife. And I also carry a gun. If danger finds me, I can choose the most appropriate tool. I can de-escalate verbally when possible, and I can fight back when necessary with a range of force options. I can choose between violence and non-violence. Did Antoinette Tuff have the same choices available to her? Do you?
While I agree wholeheartedly that it would indeed be a wonderful world if all conflict could be resolved with the proper verbal application of empathy and compassion, it just ain’t so. If you walk out your door equipped with no more than verbal skills, then you are betting your life…and possibly the lives of others in your care…that you can talk the wolf out of eating you.
“Fortuitous outcomes reinforce poor tactics.” – Anonymous police instructor