No Second Chance

This afternoon I sat down to begin reading Mark Hatmaker’s book, No Second Chance: A Reality-Based Guide to Self-Defense. We are studying the text in preparation for his bootcamp we will be attending in May. Interspersed within the text are predator profile blocks that describe actual crimes, un-sanitized and missing euphemisms that you would probably find in a news report. I am amazed and equally disturbed by the twisted imagination that orchestrates these horrific acts, and I can honestly say that try as I might, I could never fully comprehend the mindset from which they are borne. We have often talked on this blog about becoming the predator in an encounter, but Hatmaker argues that as reasonable, caring human beings, it is not a possibility; like it or not, we are the prey. The predators have the advantage in that they know who, how, where as well as when they will strike. They use their intellect to get what they want. He explains that we, as prey, are not powerless, and that we can also use our intellect for preparedness in the worst-case scenario.

Honestly, I feel divided about this analogy. I understand his reasoning, but at the same time, I don’t like to think of myself as prey at all. I like to believe I can be like the predator in determination and ferocity, minus the depravity. I do realize that animals in the wild may be labeled as prey animals, though many survive due to vigilance and cunning. He compares the human predator to other predators and demonstrates that victim selection is based on similar criteria: the easiest and most economical prey. Other species choose the young, the old, the infirm and the inattentive because they know that these tend to cost less in terms of energy expenditure. The human animal also sticks to these parameters most of the time when preying upon other humans. Many psychological studies attest to this.

Hatmaker brings up an interesting point about how we differ from other “prey” animals. The newer part of our brains, or the neo-cortex, that which makes us higher animals, can hinder the primitive part of our brains that controls fight and flight. In a lethal encounter, the mind can be frozen in a state of indecision, trying to reason through the why’s and how’s in an attempt to form comparisons to personal experience where there are none. I know this is the point at which training comes in to mitigate this problem, as he will discuss further in the book. You know, I think we as human beings have an interesting dilemma. As a species we have a tendency to obsess, worry and develop unfounded fears about people and situations in our lives—the False Evidence Appearing Real kind of stuff. The way out of that trap is through reason. Yet, in the case of survival, reason can get in the way of useful, healthy fear that can propel us towards action, i.e. fight or flight. We are so darned complex, we humans!

The last thought I gleaned for the day was this: if ever we find ourselves in the middle of a violent encounter, WE ARE THE FIRST RESPONDERS. Whoever is called to our aid may respond in minutes, and yet may never arrive in time. Sobering thought, and it leaves no wiggle room: we are responsible for our own safety.

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