If you ask any person, “would you protect yourself if attacked?” or “would you protect a loved one from violence?” the answer is usually YES! But ask that same person to keep in shape, dedicate some time to study with a qualified teacher of combatives/martial arts, or simply set some time aside to visit a seminar or training course on the subject and pretty quickly you will see the positive numbers drop.

Everyone “says” they care about life, care about their family/friends/community. But why do they not transmit those words into pro-active action? Whatever happened to thought, word and deed? There are two simple answers which are heavily related: pronia and abdication.

Pronia

Some people suffer from too high a sensitivity of danger, and we classify those people as paranoid. But what about people who simply choose to ignore danger or even have an unrealistic perception of security? In scientific terms the opposite of paranoia is pronia. Pronia might lead us to believe, for example, that the police are always around the corner, or that violence is something that happens to other people and we are somehow immune to danger. It creates a bubble of false security which leads us not only into danger, but prevents us from reacting to it when it happens.

Abdication

Abdication is a more recent emerging problem. A manager in a company might delegate tasks to subordinates, and this might make sense. However, delegation is sometimes a tool of removing oneself from direct personal responsibility. In business circles this is referred to as “abdication of responsibility.” To make a habit of abdication becomes dangerous when we stop being responsible for our own safety and that of others. We are always responsible for our own safety first. There are many great institutions and many great individuals who do a wonderful job of protecting us, but the first layer of responsibility is ourselves. Abdication assumes that there are other people who should be taking care of protecting you at ALL times. When you think about how impossible that is, you begin to see how pronia and abdication are related.

I live on the outskirts of a city containing over 1.5m people. Last year there were 331 murders. This was the big statistic — the death count. It is what everybody focuses on. In the news, in the papers, on cable TV… most of the attention is given to these cases. And even then it is only certain cases that are focused on, and the story always leads us to the conclusion that there was a specific reason, a reason we can avoid. We can still be safe. Besides, for 1.5m people, 331 murders isn’t too bad is it? The problem is that we are limiting our view of reality through a specific window that is designed to generate viewing figures. It is not designed to keep you safe as the number one priority. To believe so is Pronia and Abdication.

How Bad is it Out There, Really?

There are better tools out there. Take a visit to this site www.crimereports.com and find Philadelphia on the map. You can use the map tools to change the incidents to nothing but homicide, and, assault with a deadly weapon. Doesn’t look too bad right. Just a few incidents. OK, now check the date range, and change it from 3 days to 30 days. Now look at it:

30 day assault map in Philadelphia

How many people do you think are actually aware of these incidents that occurred last month? Obviously the people involved are aware, the people who gather these stats and use them for research are aware. But for most of the 1.5m people, many of whom live, work and commute in these areas? Most of them have never even seen this information. Remember, this graphic does not even include sexual assault or assault that does not involve a deadly weapon. Denial is an effort; denial takes work. But if citizens do not even see the data, denial is incredibly easy.

Denial is an effort; denial takes work.
But surely, with all this crime, we should blame the police. Or we should create new laws to protect us. Or we should put pressure on the government to do something. Right? Unfortunately, as much as all these people have a role to protect us, we can never abdicate our own responsibility completely. If you can afford a 24hr armed security escort then perhaps delegation might work for you. But for most ordinary people, that simply is not feasible. Apart from which it is dangerous.

Let me tell you a story about abdication:

A manager is given the job of creating a new brand name for a product by the company CEO. However, this particular manager doesn’t want to spend too much time on the task, he has better things to do. The manager asks one of his employees to take on the whole project and leaves him to it. A week later the deadline arrives, the manager takes his employees work and sends it to the CEO. The CEO is very disappointed, he does not like the idea at all. In fact he is so upset by the lack of quality that he decides to replace the manager. The manager protests that his employee was to blame, but the CEO tells him, “I asked you to do it, and you decided to try and pass the responsibility to someone else. However, you are ultimately responsible for that decision, so you must go.”

OK, now, in that case the manager learned a very important life lesson. He can move on and get a new job and take more responsibility next time. No big deal, right? But, what if, you abdicate the responsibility of protecting your own life? At the risk of explaining the obvious: you may only get to make that mistake once! If no one is around to help you when you need them, and you are unprepared, and you or a loved one are at risk of being seriously injured or killed, then you will realize that abdication was a mistake. But it could also be too late to rectify that mistake…

So, would you protect yourself or a loved one from danger? Yes! Would you take some form of training to give you the actual skills required to do so? OK, now you are thinking!