The Cost Of Inaction
We are a society paralyzed by fear.
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It’s been something else bearing witness to the decline of our civilization in real-time. I used to believe that the world isn’t quite as bad as it often seems when viewed through the media lens, but I’m struggling with that belief now. I’m sure many of you are too.
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Early last week, a literal street execution was caught on video in St. Louis. As always, don’t watch if real-world violence isn’t something you’re ready to handle:
They caught the savage, but you can’t help but wonder: after the fact, what’s the use?
Many commentators have noted inaction on the part of bystanders, in particular the cameraman. This is the main topic I want to address in this post. I agree it’s infuriating to see nobody come to the aid of the poor victim, especially when there was a clear and obvious opportunity to do so when the killer apparently couldn’t load his gun properly. There was a chance the victim’s life could’ve been saved. His death is clearly tragic, but the fact he could’ve just as easily lived is the most distressing part of the story.
At the same time, I caution anyone from casting too definitive a judgment when it comes to these videos. For one, nothing, absolutely nothing, serves as a substitute for being physically present, staring death in the face, and feeling the urgency of that moment in your veins. We all like to think we’re going to be the heroic tough guy until it’s time to actually be the heroic tough guy. How many of us would feel comfortable going up against a gunman, especially if you’re not armed with a gun yourself?
And no, carrying a gun isn’t any kind of remedy. It’s gets tiring hearing people say “You need to carry!” because, of all people, gun enthusiasts should understand not everyone is up for the responsibility of carrying and judiciously employing a firearm, if need be. Like so much that gets said out there, it’s a sentiment, not a solution. More importantly, under anarcho-tyranny, carrying a gun means nothing if the state won’t uphold your right to protect life and property with deadly force. In effect, those who tell others to carry without considering all the ramifications, upsides and downsides, of doing so are setting people up for failure. This is irresponsible.
In this day and age, what this witness did was probably the best thing he could’ve done: document evidence. Unfortunately, inaction cost someone his life. Could he have been saved? I think the answer is yes, but it would’ve required a willingness to step into harm’s way on behalf of a stranger. When do you step forth and meet the threat?
The truth is, nobody can answer that question. There’s the morally correct answer and the practical answer. The morally right answer would’ve been to physically intervene, but physical interventions are always messy and carry the risk of death or serious bodily harm. Maybe that’s exactly what bystanders should’ve done, maybe we ought to be willing to lay down our lives for our fellow man, but it’s a tough ask of anyone. Nobody wants to hear that standing back and filming was the right choice, but none of us can tell someone else to engage a gun-wielding, murderous savage from the comfort of safety. In addition to the physical ramifications, there are legal ramifications. As far as the law is concerned, moral righteousness doesn’t equal legal righteousness. You have no more legal rights than does that violent savage who executed the poor man on a sidewalk in broad daylight. When playing under such rules, why should anyone intervene?
At the end of the day, you can’t blame anyone else for this murder than the murderer himself and the anarcho-tyranny that enables him. St. Louis has long been one of America’s most violent cities and is run by people who have no desire to do anything about it. Their top prosecutor, Kim Gardner, is yet another activist-official notorious for taking it easy on criminals out of a misguided sense of social justice:
On Monday, Missouri Republicans who want the state to take over prosecutions of violent crimes in St. Louis sharply criticized Gardner after a teenage volleyball player from Tennessee lost her legs in a crash caused by a speeding driver facing felony charges.
Gardner is facing calls to resign from critics who blame her for failing to keep Daniel Riley, 21, behind bars before the Feb. 18 crash that injured 17-year-old Janae Edmondson.
"The entire situation could have and should have been avoided if not for the ineffectiveness of that office," St. Louis Police Officers Association business manager Joe Steiger said during a Senate hearing for legislation that would give the governor the power to appoint a special prosecutor to take on violent crimes in counties with a homicide rate over a certain threshold. "Janae Edmondson isn’t the first victim who’s been affected by Ms. Gardner’s failures as circuit attorney, but hopefully she will be the last."
It’s bad enough St. Louis was a violent city long before Kim Gardner ever showed up. Clearly, many residents of St. Louis have no desire to see things change, since everyone they vote for is cut from the same cloth as Gardner. People like Cori Bush, a dedicated pro-crime, anti-enforcement politician, represent this city. Not to mention she’s immensely corrupt:
And pays top dollar for the services of some truly bizarre people, including an anti-Semite:
Important as it is to expose the kleptocracy that is our Regime, the more important point I want to get across is that in order to intervene, you need political leadership in place that’ll uphold the responsibility of citizens to look after one another. We don’t live in that society. We instead live in a society which, long ago, outsourced that responsibility out to “professionals.” Which is all and well for a civilized society, but the police rarely arrive when you need them to. This is a physics problem, leaving the citizenry both the first and last line of defense. But without legal cover, there’s no incentive to intervene, especially under anarcho-tyranny, where people are punished for not “minding their own business.” Good Samaritan law will only provide so much cover and isn’t a license to stop an attack by any means necessary. Worse, we live in a culture that perceives such interventions as “vigilantism,” depending on the identity of who’s involved in the incident, of course.
Just look at the comments in this video of a citizen assisting police in stopping a fleeing criminal:
If that’s what they think about assisting the police, imagine what they think about trying to stop a criminal before the police get involved.
On last year’s 9/11 anniversary, I lamented the fact such a catastrophe today would be defined not with acts of heroism, but by inaction or even outright cowardice. Those thoughts came flooding back to me when I saw this incident yesterday:
Can you believe that? 20 years ago, this man would’ve been dogpiled and smothered by passengers the moment he threatened to kill everyone. Granted, 9/11 was still fresh on everyone’s minds in 2003. But Americans have never gotten over their fear of flying. For such a dangerous individual to make it on a plane, to shout threats, and be stopped only after he attacked a flight attendant, makes you think we’ve fallen quite a ways away from the days of “Let’s Roll.” We are a society paralyzed by fear. Not just fear of getting hurt, but fear of being held liable for dealing with what the authorities could not.
But again, I can’t expect anyone to put themselves in harm’s way. No doubt I’d be afraid of being held legally liable for any actions I took to stop a threat. Which is why I stress the importance of avoidance - the best way to ensure your safety is to never end up in a situation where you need to become a hero. Eventually, however, danger finds you. What do you do then?
Here’s what I suggest:
Trust your senses: Don’t overthink, don’t contextualize, don’t look at things through the lens of race, gender, or whatever. Just look at what’s happening and make your judgments based on what’s most obvious about a situation.
Focus on actions: What people say is critical, but not quite as critical as what they do. Someone shouting threats is a potential danger, someone loading a gun is a clear and present danger. Words most certainly matter, but if you’re more concerned over what someone says than what someone does, you’re doing it wrong.
Safety first: There’s no use in helping someone if you end up becoming a victim yourself in the process. For example, we’ve all driven by motor vehicle accidents where a driver clearly needed assistance, but we didn’t stop, even when we could’ve. Don’t feel too guilty about it. Roads are the most dangerous environment most of us will ever be exposed to and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people are killed yearly on our roadways. Likewise, confronting an armed assailant could easily end your life. Always weigh the costs and benefits of taking action and consider that doing so may create an even more complicated, dangerous situation overall.
But don’t be a safetyist: There’s no way in this world to eliminate all risk. Sometimes, to save someone’s life, you need to be willing to place yourself in harm’s way. If someone’s drowning and there’s no lifeguard, guess what? You might need to jump in the water. Again, weigh the costs and benefits. If someone’s drowning in middle of the ocean, jumping in after them may result in you drowning also. But drowning in a pool or a crowded lake? That’s a different story and it’d be an atrocity if not a single person was willing to get wet so they could save a life.
Focus on what you can control: Going back to the car accident example, you can’t force passing cars to slow down or stop. You have no authority to do so and bringing traffic to a grinding halt isn’t necessarily helping the situation either, unless the accident itself covers the entire width of the roadway. Helping someone ultimately comes down to a convergence of opportunity and safety. The key is to act when they do. If you’re in a position to stop and do so safely, stop. If you can remove someone from a wrecked vehicle without getting yourself killed in the process and without causing further harm to the victim, do so. Otherwise, don’t force the issue unless in an exigent circumstance where failing to act would result in someone’s immediate death. Either way, don’t worry about “what-ifs?” Focus only on what’s happening in the moment and whether you can do something about it or not.
Ask questions: There’s usually no harm in trying to find out more about what’s going on. In line with not making assumptions, you should always operate with the mindset of learning more. With more information, you can make better choices and cast better judgments.
But don’t force anyone to tell you something you don’t want to know: As the saying goes, Curiosity killed the cat. Knowledge can, unfortunately, be a liability. The more you know, the more you become involved and walking away may become morally or even physically hazardous. Unless someone’s well-being is at stake, there are times where simply not getting involved in the first place is the better option, especially when it’s obvious this isn’t a situation you can handle.
Do what you’d expect others to do given the same situation: We all have a moral code, a sense of right and wrong, and how you’re supposed to behave in a given scenario. But this code of conduct is only meaningful as far as one’s own willingness to live up to it. If you don’t think you’re up to the task of doing something you expect someone else to do, it’s a sign you ought to reconsider your own personal code. Of course, it’s not always that simple - what an elderly person expects of others isn’t going to be the same as what a younger person expects of others, for example. However, as a general rule, if you wouldn’t do something given a set of circumstances, don’t expect others to do so, either.
Observe and report: Today, we are all security guards to an extent. We all have personal security cameras - on our smartphones - and we can easily report incidents on the same device to the authorities. The only thing we can’t do is physically intervene, at least not without the risk of exposing ourselves to danger or anarcho-tyrannical prosecution. Going back to the incident we talked about at the beginning of this post, sometimes, the best and only course of action is to film and provide evidence which can be used against the perpetrator. This is really difficult for me to say - the victim didn’t deserve to die and somebody should’ve stopped the shooter. But again, engaging a gunman isn’t something you can just tell anyone to do.
In sum, feeling fear isn’t a bad thing. It’s normal. It can also be to your benefit. Fear happens to be very good at forcing people to exercise caution and not take unnecessary risks. The goal to avoid becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear. This is leads to inaction, which can be of detriment not to only to the well-being of others, but to yours as well. Contrary to conventional wisdom, you want to be thinking at all times in the heat of the moment, but you cannot let your thinking lead to indecision.
As Air Force officer John Boyd once explained, our decision-making cycle consists of observing, orienting, deciding, and acting. Repeat as necessary. Ultimately, your thoughts need to lead to action, even if that action constitutes withdrawing to safety. If you cannot be a hero, at least don’t be an additional victim in the process. Whatever you do, do something - either for the sake of others or for yourself.
What are your thoughts? Do you think the witness who recorded the daylight execution in St. Louis could’ve done more than just document evidence? What would you have done?
Max Remington writes about armed conflict and prepping. Follow him on Twitter at @AgentMax90.
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