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Thread: Turning the Other Cheek

  1. #1
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    Default Turning the Other Cheek

    Titled the thread such because it is in the spirit of both the holidays and of budo. It is also something that comes up in personal protection classes when the discussion turns to how one should "be" in the world.

    Today I was reminded of what my friend and teacher Ellis Amdur has called: "the arrogance of young men." I might extend that to simply the comfortable arrogance of modern man, but in this case Ellis' comment fit perfectly.

    The well-put-together family was in front of us in line at Starbucks. They had walked in just before us, and I had already taken note of the young man in the parking lot: he was good looking - would have fit right in with the band One Direction (yes, I know of such things....but I kinda like at least that one song.... : )) and seemed aware of this as he took his sweet time across the parking lot.

    I was maneuvering my vehicle in the same lot, waiting for them to clear to get space to move into an open space. His nonchalance betrayed one of two things, or a mixture of both: utter ignorance of what was going on around him, or, more likely, utter disregard. HE had the right of way after all, so its up to everyone else to stop. I see this frequently and even have responded to accidents where a person's innate entitlement to such rights overrode their common sense about stepping in front of a vehicle that weighs many tons and can squash him on impact. This sense of entitlement, sense of "my right," overrides common sense and common courtesy in many cases.

    It didn't change my approach - patiently wait, then move into my spot. But it did make him stand out.

    And I come to see him again as my child and I are waiting at the barista station to pick up our drinks. His was called first. He walks up, tears his straw wrapper, but instead of removing it and discarding it he blows it off the end of his straw. It alights right next to my daughter, almost striking her in the face. Still no beef. He's a goofy kid.

    But he said nothing. No apologies, no acknowledgement of "oops, sorry, that was rude." Par for the course.

    Now I do nothing during such scenes. I've had people cut in line in front of me when I was in a hurry, steal my parking spaces, etc. In these cases I do nothing. It just isnt worth it. Partly it is because due to my line of work, an altercation over such things could have ramifications for me (as it has for some of my fellows), and I also know that far more people than you might realize lie about things, and are not above lying about me to get me in trouble.

    If physical violence is afoot, or a blatant disrespect that needs to be addressed for safety's sake (sometimes these things are probes to see if you will react, and lack of reaction is a free pass to continue or escalate harassment) I will respond. These are very rare, and even those don't usually get physical. Otherwise, I reject the notion that I have any special dispensation to deal with things because I happen to be an off duty cop. If I respond at all it is to protect people, or myself, from injury.

    But secondly, it is simply because we MADE this kind of man. We shelter them from any real consequences or actual violence, yet give them a sense of entitlement and make violence a game. Rude, arrogant people often are so with impunity because they face no repercussions.

    Now some would say that I should have said something. Some would have made a comment, hoping to reach the young man, or meaning to learn him a lesson that his father clearly had not taught him. On the job I sometimes do that, but off duty I am not the behavior police.

    Hundreds of years ago, when things were far more violent and studies have shown a much greater incidence of street violence with little provocation, such behavior would have gotten him blindsided and dumped on his skinny butt and then given a lesson in manners. But alas, dad would have jumped in, the knives would have come out, and the smell of blood would have shortly joined the aromas of coffee in the air.

    And this is really what budo came from. Men who lived in this latter world, yet skillful enough and in control enough of their own use of violence to choose another way because they were tired of giving and receiving such lessons. Tired of the brutalization, tired of the strong eating weak meat.

    This does not give this man, or any boorish person, a pass. Indeed, it makes them all the more culpable for such behavior. It does not seek out the root causes of the behavior, though it understands there are causes. It also recognizes that calling him out, or offering kind words, or a sudden beat down simply won't do anything to change that behavior in a brief personal encounter.

    The only behavior we can change is our own.
    Last edited by Hissho; 15th December 2013 at 22:12.
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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  3. #2
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    Hey Kit,

    Good post. The wankers that like to take their sweet time walking across the street are always a pain. I love it when they look at you and then start to walk slower. I feel like a lot of these folks have very little control in their personal lives and I find it a little sad that the only place in their life they can show any level of control is by affecting traffic. Sad really. The other option is that they have their head planted firmly up their bum. Almost every day I come close to running over folks too busy with their phone and ear buds to even notice there is a big white car or jeep coming their way. They will step out into the road without looking all the time. I've even had lights and sirens on and folks still don't notice!!! When they do figure it out they usually get this shocked and offended look and I'll get a bogus complaint for almost trying to run them down (that never really goes anywhere and I've never even been close to anyone). I think they are more angry because of the surprise of it.

    I was just at in-service and we had a brush up on verbal defense and influence (verbal judo) skills. It was good training.

    The 5 universal truths that Dr. Thompson gave were:
    1. All people want to be treated with dignity and respect
    2. All people want to be asked rather than being told to do something
    3. All people want to be told why they are being asked to do something
    4. All people want to be given options rather than threats
    5. All people want a second chance

    I've found this very helpful with stops and dealing with folks. Even out of uniform I've had some success with this. One of the trainers is retired from a state department with 30+ years as a lieutenant (he is working his 2nd career with us). He talks about natural language: hey buddy get over here, sit down, gimme your ID and professional language: Sir you need to sit on the curb, you need to give me your ID etc. Obviously this doesn't work all the time and you need to know your clients but it is useful to think about in soft skills situations. Some of our officers from other agencies have a hard line attitude even when they don't need to. Many of the folks we deal with are not criminals so barking orders at them doesn't get a good response and will get a complaint against you. Again know your clients.

    I think we need to have the mental flexibility to know when to bark orders and when to use soft skills. Sadly some people just want to paint with a very broad brush (in either direction).

    Cheers,
    Chris
    Christopher Covington

    Daito-ryu aikijujutsu
    Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu heiho

    All views expressed here are my own and don't necessarily represent the views of the arts I practice, the teachers and people I train with or any dojo I train in.

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hissho View Post
    The only behavior we can change is our own.
    Nice reminder and so true, thank you

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    Chris

    I'm much more a natural language guy, even lapsing to "dude," which I know bothers some people or gets used by people, but it is so much the current vernacular. I am a firm believer that natural language coming from an assertive place is helpful.

    On duty is different than off duty....I'm much more assertive. I call people on their challenges, threats, or misunderstandings, but I also always explain what and why afterwards. The lack of complaints and number of apologies I've gotten over the years leads me to believe it is more effective and more humanizing.
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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    Kit,

    I agree "mordern" language is often a helpful tool. I guess it is all about knowing your clients. I often use man, dude, bro and I've even used a buddy roe here and there. I have to shift pretty quickly from natural language to professional language due to the populations we have. Most of the folks I deal with are college aged but there are a number of people that expect a high level of professionalism as well. I often have to navigate these encounters with a certain amount of guile. I think I operate in a sort niche LE world with a lot of unique challenges. One challenge we have is we are a very new department only about 5 or 6 years old. We replaced a security guard organization (although we still have some security guards to supplement our police officers and take care of the smaller calls for service). It can be an uphill battle to change the culture of the way we are perceived. We are often our own best advertisement though and I get a lot more complements than I do complaints (I've yet to have a substantiated complaint).

    I think your quote above is a very good one so I'll repost it here so hopefully people will give it a second read:

    "And this is really what budo came from. Men who lived in this latter world, yet skillful enough and in control enough of their own use of violence to choose another way because they were tired of giving and receiving such lessons. Tired of the brutalization, tired of the strong eating weak meat.

    This does not give this man, or any boorish person, a pass. Indeed, it makes them all the more culpable for such behavior. It does not seek out the root causes of the behavior, though it understands there are causes. It also recognizes that calling him out, or offering kind words, or a sudden beat down simply won't do anything to change that behavior in a brief personal encounter.

    The only behavior we can change is our own."

    Cheers,
    Chris
    Christopher Covington

    Daito-ryu aikijujutsu
    Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu heiho

    All views expressed here are my own and don't necessarily represent the views of the arts I practice, the teachers and people I train with or any dojo I train in.

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    Yeah, I don't think people can appreciate going from one person/community who absolutely hates you, one that sees you as a "necessary evil," and another that is extremely grateful.

    And having to switch hats to deal with all of them with aplomb.
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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    A detective friend at my former department actually had a defense attorney try to get a confession thrown out because he accused the detective of being "too nice" to the suspect thus deceiving him. The judge was having none of that of course... =)

    My first mentor also made the point that for certain elements in our city that if you were "too polite" they wouldn't take you seriously. So as Kit just said: "And having to switch hats to deal with all of them with aplomb."

    That took some getting used to, but over time I most definitely saw the value of it. Not everyone respects polite behavior. In a sense it is a bit like learning how to adjust your tactics based on your opponent's attack... except in this case with "verbal judo."

    I found that as well with my second mentor. We went to serve a trespass notice to a particularly violent individual, simply by the way my mentor spoke we were able to serve the notice and have him vacate the premises peacefully. Later that night it took six younger officers to hold the man down when he violated the order... I wasn't there for the second altercation, but I'm told they were not nearly as adept at talking to the man.

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    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke

    However, to really understand Burke, the above may have been taken from;

    The narrated theme of Sergei Bondarchuk's Soviet film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's book "War and Peace", in which the narrator declares "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing", although since the original is in Russian various translations to English are possible. This purported quote also bears resemblance to a quote widely attributed to Plato, that said "The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

    Therefore, Edmund Burke's "Thoughts on the Cause of Present Discontents", thus stated; "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

    My point:

    There is a "fine line" when and where such people should be dealt with.

    We members of a social-civil society cannot allow this to happen without check.

    Just the other day, my family and I were in a shopping mall for Xmas, when we were passed by a woman shouting very loud, profanities on her phone. (Assuming at someone on the other end of her phone conversation)

    I had paused her and politely asked her to lower her voice because she was passing children.

    Her reply; "Its a FREE COUNTRY- I SAY WHAT I WANT"

    My polite response:"Before I had stopped you, my wife went to get Mall Security, and they are right behind you"

    After some dialogue, she had lowered her voice and was allowed to remain in the mall, not without some security meandering nearby
    Richard Scardina

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