Saturday, August 13, 2005

"The Gift of Fear"

Over at The Glittering Eye, there's a discussion on women and self-defence. The author has solid credentials,including some years teaching self-defence classes. The title of his post, "The Best Weapon is a Trained Mind," is absolutely spot on. While it would be nice to be armed to the teeth or never venture forth at night, etc, that's no way to live:

I think that it doesn’t matter a great deal if you’re empty-handed or whether you go out with a machete in one hand and a howitzer in the other. The only genuine weapon is the mind. Armies train for reasons and among those reasons is that it takes training to overcome the reflexes and inhibitions that prevent effective response to attack. Regardless of how determined you may be when fighting actually starts without serious training it’s pretty likely you’ll just freeze.

The most effective form of self-defense is recognizing dangerous situations and avoiding them.
Some years ago Gavin de Becker wrote The Gift of Fear. If you have young women in your life, buy it for them. Even if you don't get it for yourself since he discusses public dangers and corporate problems when it comes to firing unstable individuals. We think of it now as "going postal." A wonderfully brief summation of a business environment headed for lethal outcomes. The book was written before Columbine, but I wonder what he would have to say about the situation there and how the school community might have seen it coming. We live in an age of non-association and in some ways --both direct and indirect -- it is killing us.

I've given the book away several times. I urge you to get a copy. Learn the life-enchancing value of having a well-developed intuitive faculty. Ignorance ceased to be bliss when the first city was erected.

Here's a comment from one viewer on Amazon:

Panic and anxiety are not useful emotions; fear is different. Fear is what compels us to take action if there is a clear and present danger; it's what allows us to see what's happening and respond appropriately. It's an emotion that should be nurtured instead of conquered. We don't want our kids to grow up afraid of the boogeyman, scared to go out of their homes or try new things or meet new people. De becker teaches us that, instead, if we develop and learn to trust our intuition, we can free ourselves from that trap, just as we can react positively if we are ever in a position that requires immediate escape.

He shows, with examples and self-reflective exercises, what to ask yourself, and what to do, if you have a "gut feeling" that tells you something is wrong.

Parents, children and women especially need this skill.

It's great to learn self-defense, to build your confidence in what you can physically do to protect yourself. But that ability is enhanced by the lessons in this book. And sometimes, being a black-belt is irrelevent to dangers that are out there.
Yes, fear is indeed a gift, but as de Becker says, quit watching the TV news. All it will do is make you fearful and anxious. Those are not strengths, but fear is.

Buy the book.

Update: There is a bizzare and truly gruesome tale of treachery involving the vulnerability of women on Brussels Journal. A journalist employed by Le Soir, Belgium's leading newspaper, is a wanted man.

It seems he spent his spare time hitting on Morrocan women, bedding them and making promises he would help free them from various oppressive situations. He would have the women pose nude for his camera and then post the photos on his website before disappearing from their lives. Eventually one husband discovered his wife's picture and the whole sewer began to overflow. Women have been arrested and convicted. Some have committed suicide in prison, some are missing, presumed to have been killed by their families, others are still being hunted. One husband is reported to have gone insane.
The story is vile on all sides, but save your special venom for the Belgian state. They refuse to hand him over to Moroccan authorities because his sexual predation is not a criminal offense. However, he may do jail time in Belgium for making disparaging remarks about the "stupid" women. Those put-downs are a hate crime, but the ruin of more than forty women? Nah. Not worth more than a Belgian shrug.

Europe grows more loathsome with each passing day. Meanwhile, it is up to women to learn to use their intuition. See de Becker's book. Maybe he could write an Islamic version?


At 3:46 PM, Blogger nellodee said...

a lot of people's lives have been saved by the hairs standing up on the back of their neck.
I had a self defense course as a freshamn, and the instructor said, FIRST always trust your intuition.
then he taught us how to kick an attacker in the balls and drive a sharpened pencil thru his occipital orbit.
oops, sorry--guess i'm profiling.


Post a Comment

<< Home