Where do you draw your line (in the sand)?
When was the last time you articulated where that line was drawn?
When you articulated that line, have you subjected it to scrutiny? Have you read stories, considered scenarios, applied it (as a training exercise, in your head) while you go about your daily life? Does it hold up? Does it need adjustment and refinement?
Over on pistol-forum.com “LittleLebowski” recounted his experience of when he had to defensively use a knife in a Hawaii hotel. It’s a very detailed story, including details of his arrest, references to news media reports, and all that he went through. I empathized and identified with a fair portion of what he went through.
What was more interesting to me was flipping through all the forum discussion of his account. The majority of it was comments such as “you shouldn’t have gotten involved”, or “wasn’t your fight”. But there were also counters such as “JV_” saying:
It’s interesting to watch incident videos, like the thug beating up on a big bus driver (who won in the end) and many people seemed surprised that no one stepped in to help the bus driver.
And here we have an incident where someone does step in to help out, and we’re back to the “it’s not my fight”. On the other hand, it’s a domestic incident, and if she turned on the helper, he’d still be in jail.
I don’t look forward to living in a society where everyone stands around and watches bad things happen.
And the discussion raged on, as Internet forums do, tho was overall quite civil.
Still, the armchair quarterbacking was interesting for me to observe and it mirrors responses I received in regards to my own incident.
It’s not really that people are trying to tell me or LittleLebowski that we were right or wrong (tho yes, some are certainly trying to scold or correct), it’s more that people are articulating their own feelings against the backdrop of our event. They might be saying “you shouldn’t have gotten involved” but they really mean “I wouldn’t get involved”.
Really, it’s tough to tell someone they shouldn’t have gotten involved – especially after the fact. “Gee, thank you for pointing out my mistakes… as if I’m totally unaware of them.” You may mean well, but think about what you’re really trying to say and why you are saying it. Someone telling their story is making themselves vulnerable, in hopes of helping you (including learning from the mistakes made). Don’t punch them in the gut over it.
And from that, work to learn. If after hearing the story you find yourself (re)assessing how you would respond to such a situation, good! That’s the point of sharing. You should be using the story to figure out where you stand, and if you need to adjust, if you need to change yourself, if you need to further your education.
Remember: as a result, we will all draw our lines in different places. What’s right for you may not be what’s right for me. It’s good to help guide people towards finding, improving, and making articulable where their line is drawn; just don’t look down on them or chastise them for drawing their line differently from yours. So long as they have a clearly defined and defensible line, so long as they can reasonably articulate where and why, that’s what’s important.