09 Mar 2009 - Story by Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb
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WE, humans, have the enviable position at the top of the food chain. Although individuals occasionally fall prey to wild animals, as a species we are safe except from ourselves. We got to this privileged position through our use of tools. Tools we use are not limited to guns: as a species we are defined as tool makers and tool users.
It is also fortunate that most humans are disposed to cooperate with each other. However, the exceptions to that "most"Ã‚Â are sufficient to make weapons ownership a necessity for the rest. Human aggression happens on two levels: individual and organised. Let's consider them separately.
Some of the mean humans are not deterred from harming others by any considerations. However, most mean individuals behave rationally even in pursuit of irrational goals. Such people weigh the costs and benefits of their actions and so try to pick victims who cannot fight back. Here we come to the benefit of weapons ownership. You may not be armed, but those who would harm you have no way of knowing that. Over time, they run a real risk of attacking an armed person. In that way, general tradition of being able to resist evil affords you some protection.
In nature a harmless animal would imitate a more formidable species and thus frighten would-be predators or make them cautious. Similarly, predators who select victims based on the expected inability to resist, often desist when even a small number of the expected easy marks give them trouble. That no external differences indicate which person is defenceless and which isn't makes all of us safer. No one in their right mind would enjoy a gunfight. Safety of the humans is much more improved whenever the criminals have to endure combat in order to get what they want with no guarantee of victory but with a serious risk to their skins.
Some would argue that by the mere ability to resist evil, we become the same evil we fight. That view equates initiation of aggression with the defence of self and family. In my humble opinion, the two are not equal.
Protection of innocence is a noble cause. Failure to plan or to act when necessary is not noble, merely irresponsible. It leads to extinction and encourages criminals to victimise others.
Being safe does not mean that we should all string barbed wire around our homes, mine the erf with landmines and sit behind sandbagged windows in anticipation of hostile attacks. Leading righteous, peaceful lives, being good to others, working to improve ourselves and the world would do much to improve our safety. Yet, just as good health doesn't depend on plenty of exercise or a good diet, safety does not depend only on being armed or on being a decent human. Each is an essential component of the whole.
Being armed doesn't mean we fear our environment but being prepared reduces criminal predation. In some minds, guns are linked to murder and other unlawful uses. Yet they seldom view petrol/fuel, wires, and knives as tools of violence. The will to kill is the paramount ingredient in homicides. In the absence of that will, no weapon will lift itself to harm a human.
Judicious use of complex tools separates humans from all other species. Some people wouldn't pick up arms to defend themselves even when presented with such a choice. They do not wish to use weaponry because they feel that it makes them into barbarians just like the attackers. In my view, they are missing the difference between initiation of violence and using force to stop violence. Some of the people who would be willing to die rather than fight change their minds when the lives of loved ones are at stake. Parents have a protection obligation to their children, spouses and friends to each other. Yet efforts to protect family members are likely to fail if the protectors have neither tools nor the training with which to save lives.
Some say: "I would not use a weapon even to protect my family."Ã‚Â The same people have no problem calling in the police who carry guns and who would shoot criminals to terminate attacks on innocent people. For some reason, they have no objection to deadly force so long as it is used by someone else or law enforcement official. Do you think that you can be an impassive bystander if your family or friends are under a criminal attack? Wouldn't you rather have an option to render assistance?
Giving up, surrendering to evil attacks is not a guarantee to safety. On the contrary, it encourages the criminals to attack again. Just as we humans wear clothes to stay warm and dry; we have also to be safe. Being armed is as much a part of being a civilized human being. Because of the law and diligence with which law abiding people conceal their weapons, we seldom realize how many Namibians go about their daily life armed and prepared.
Real-life thugs depend on non-resistance for success. When effective resistance is offered, most retreat promptly. The tools for self-defence can be pepper spray, stun guns, knives or batons but firearms are the most popular because of their effectiveness in stopping attacks.
Humans are a social species. People who harm others compulsively and wantonly have no place in it. If people can fend for themselves, they won't trade their rights for the illusion of security. If a person must shoot on an intruder, he/she would be doing so only in order to protect lives of self and dependants. Not to punish but to save lives.
In conclusion, let me ask. Is it a human right to defend oneself against a violent attack? Is self-defence a basic human right? You have the right to life but whose duty is it to protect it?
"There exists a law, not written down anywhere, but in our hearts; a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading; a law which comes to us not from theory but from practice; not by instruction but by natural intuition; I refer to the law which lays it down that, if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right."Ã‚Â - Marcus Tullius Cicero
Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb is the founder and chief instructor of Namibia Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy. He can be contacted at: 0812782121.