Chapter 1 There’s No Such Thing as Senseless Violence“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.” – Hunter S. Thompson
One day a scorpion approached the edge of a stream and wanted to cross. A rabbit came along and asked the scorpion what it was doing. The scorpion replied that he wanted to get to the other side, but could not swim. He wondered aloud if he could ride on the hare’s back, serving as a set of eyes to help guide the two of them while the rabbit swam across. Now the rabbit, he was no dummy. He was afraid that the scorpion would sting him if he let it onto his back yet the scorpion promised that he would never do such a thing because they would both drown. The rabbit accepting this promise let the scorpion climb onto his back and they began their journey. Halfway across the stream the scorpion raised his stinger and plunged it into the back of the rabbit injecting him with a fatal poison. The rabbit screamed, “You promised you would not sting me. Now we are both going to die.” The scorpion replied, “I am a scorpion, this is what I do.”
The preceding fable was written sometime around 600 BC. It has stood the test of time not only because of its powerful message but also because it makes intuitive sense. Scorpions, driven by instinct, strike out at other animals with their poisonous stingers. Unthinking animals, it is conceivable that they would perform such behaviors even at risk of their own lives. After all, honeybees die after using their stingers, but that doesn’t keep them from doing it. What about people? We are more evolved, use higher reasoning. How much does that change things? Surprisingly not as much as you might think…
Social violence, the old “what are you looking at” sort of stuff used to protect turf, establish hierarchies, and attract members of the opposite sex runs contrary to common sense yet it happens all the time. Ever been to a nightclub frequented by hormone‐addled young men and college coeds? How about a party around 2:00 AM as it starts to wind down and stragglers become desperate to hook up? You can see dysfunctional behaviors in certain settings virtually all the time. The good news is that those who can rise above their animal instincts need not fear dangers from social violence most of the time, as they have the wherewithal to swallow their pride, give the other guy a face‐saving way out, and leave. But, there are other kinds of violence, deeper, darker, and more dangerous kinds. Asocial or predatory violence is complex, disturbing, and, thankfully, far less common than social violence in most societies. But, far more often than not, if you are caught in its grasp you cannot just walk away. You’ll need to fight your way free and may very well be maimed or killed in the process. It’s important to know what you’re facing because actions that can de‐escalate social violence such as backing down and apologizing make you look like a compliant victim, hence can spark predatory violence.
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