Contempt will kill you – Marc MacYoung


I have dealt with crime and violence all my life.

I’ve looked into the eyes of evil and I’ve looked into the eyes of people who — between environment and life choices — knew of no other way. Either one will kill you if you don’t have your shit wired tight.

Even if you’ve ‘done your wiring,’ you can still die, but your chances of survival dramatically increase. The better you are the better your odds. Having played these odds my entire life, it makes me twitch when I see contempt.
Cavalier is dangerous. Contempt is suicidal. I’ve known too many who went down because they stopped doing what what made them good. But I’ve seen even more fall because they believed they had some magical talisman that protected them from their own mistakes — including how good/experienced they are.

One of the signs of inexperience is contempt. People who make statements about the moral character, weakness and cowardice of those they might face as proof of their superiority. “Criminals are cowards.” “Only stupid people use violence.” “They’re so weak they have to attack from behind/in groups”.

This kind of thinking will get you killed. Even if it doesn’t, your surprises won’t be pleasant. I once read an analysis on the Vietnam-era indoctrination of contempt for the fighting prowess of the Vietnamese (not just dehumanizing, but contempt). This ignored a 1,000 year warrior tradition. The result of which was contempt added trauma to the US soldier to discover — the hard way — they were facing a cagey and implacable enemy. This rather than the weaklings and peasants they’d been conditioned to believe they’d be facing.
Inexperienced people search around for straws to cling to about their own superiority over their opponents (or why their ‘chosen’ solution will work against such inferiors). They make grand proclamations about the nature of the others based on no personal experience (e.g., criminals are cowards), marketing claims of a system (e.g., Krav Maga is real combatives) or half understood soundbites (e.g., I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6).

Yes this works as self-soothing (but then again, so does masturbation). But what it’s mostly doing is self-justifying your comfort level. It’s a bit of mental gymnastics of “I know this, so I don’t have to understand more.” For example: Criminals are cowards. I have something that will work against them. I don’t need anything else.”
Really? So just knowing a physical system (or having an item) is ‘all you need?’

Oddly enough some of the most adroit observers of human behavior I have ever run across are violence professionals who know there’s no such thing as a talisman that protects them. They are constantly learning, seeking knowledge and watching people.

They may hate the people they clash with, but they have respect for what those people can do to them. It’s integral to keeping them alive in the clash.

There I’ve just given you a roll of bailing wire and fencing pliers. You have a little wiring to do.

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