Violence in Real Life
Posted by Ben Erlichman on May 26, 2011
I’m at a conference in LaCrosse, WI as I’m writing this. Last week I posted on violence in Christian fiction and got a great response. Now I want to switch gears a bit and talk about violence in real life.
Why? Well, I’m sitting in my hotel room having just watched a show called “Fighting Back” or something like that. Basically, the show’s premise is live footage of normal people fighting back when they’re confronted in dangerous situations by other people (usually criminals). Most of the escapades were incredible (like a bar owner fighting off two people in his bar at closing–one with a knife; a jewelry store worker taking on a thief–who also pulls a knife; like a gas station clerk who gets a shotgun thrust in his face by two robbers, then he grabs it and takes it away from them and then runs after them with it), but my favorite one was unique.
You see, most of the stories involved a crime in progress. This one doesn’t. A punk kid (probably my age) with a buzz cut, bare arms, and a bad attitude accosts his neighbor, a late 30s guy with a potbelly who, I’ll be frank, looks like a total computer geek. The kid is shouting in his face, pushing him (on the geek’s front porch, no less), and otherwise being belligerent. When he starts trashing the geek’s stuff, then pushes him one more time, the geek’s had enough.
Before this, the geek would sort of take each push then lower his arms to show he didn’t want trouble. It was the right thing to do, you know–the geek was trying to be meek. But finally, he took action. He put his hands up about like how you would imagine a geek would: as if he’d seen one too many martial arts movies and thought he could recreate some kung fu magic. Fat chance … literally.
Well, the kid pushed him again, and nothing happened. Then, as the kid moved in for another push, lightning struck his face. The geek lashed his hand out like a cobra striking and decked the kid square in his mug. The kid dropped to the ground, stunned, and then staggered back and out of the geek’s yard as he beckoned the kid to get up and try again.
As it turns out, the geek was actually a black belt in both karate AND jiu jitsu. Wow. That kid got his rear end handed to him, and it was awesome.
For those of you who know me, you know that I enjoy sword fighting, I love shooting guns, and I love action movies. Having said that, I know where to draw my lines: I don’t condone violence in most situations, but I sure wouldn’t call myself a pacifist either. I’m happy to say I’ve never had to throw a punch at someone in a real fight (though I have sparred with people before and loved it), and the number of moderately serious fights I’ve been in is easily less than five. In other words, I count myself blessed that I don’t have a lot of real fight experience.
I have a feeling that may eventually change for me. But that raises a few questions that I’d like to ask you (as well as myself).
1. What would it take for you to use physical violence against another person? In other words, give me a general picture of what has to transpire before you react in such a way.
2. If you do take action using violence, how would you keep yourself from taking things too far, from being too excessive?
3. How does your faith come into play when choosing whether to use violence or not?
I have my own thoughts on these questions, but I want to get your feedback first. I will respond in the comments section once I’ve heard from some of you.
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