Here, in Costa Rica, there are a number of unique areas where the chance of conflict goes up exponentially in the social-conflict arena.

1. Driving. Due to the exorbitant amount of traffic, traffic jams, bottle-necking, rush hour – a society whose general passivity and passive-aggression is manifested as pure aggression on the roadways. Violence from road rage, entitlement, and lack of driving culture (no driver’s education, loosely-regulated traffic rules, minimal LE enforcement) contribute to likely the highest-percentage chance of engaging in mutual-violence, symmetrical self-defense, or rage-attack. One of the acknowledged worst driving countries in the world, not just the Americas.

2. Alcohol-frequented places, not limited to the stereotypical ones and not nearly with the clear-profile as in Canada/the US. Latinos/Central-Americans drink. A lot. There was even a time open-booze was allowed at a children’s prom I attended, “graduating” grade 8 and moving into high-school. Alcohol plus machista culture plus perpetual-need to be alpha male (especially in front of female) and you have a good chance at being singled-out for various forms of social violence. Most often in the form of: a) match-fighting/dueling/agreed-upon combat, b) projection or posturing for submission, or c) non-lethal surprise “attack” to mark/”brand” or otherwise leaving a “scar” (whether psychological/mental/emotional/spiritual, not nearly always physical – a lesson-giving, we’ll call it a knowledge bomb).

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3. Football. It’s a proven fact here that domestic-violence statistics skyrocket when the national soccer/football team plays – and loses. Men seem to, en masse, get so frustrated at the result of a football game (I’d hazard a strong guess as to say that #2 also factors in here, quite heavily) that they take their frustration (at a football team, some skewed sense of patriotism) on their wives, children, and other men. My own father-in-law and brother-in-law could not watch games in the same room when their local club teams played each other. Hooliganism is also a thing here, where known groups of thugs are “hired” or planted by each team to cause chaos when things go wrong or to create divide, a clear “othering” to enhance the idea it’s not just a football game but so much more. (A man had his skull bashed-in with a cement-block just last year in broad daylight outside the stadium)

The first 2 can often be avoided. The third as well – if you’re not a spouse or child, then it becomes exponentially more difficult, granted, and different fail-safes need to be in-order and available. (there are, thankfully, increasingly more out there now as safe-houses and organizations for women are on the rise and active) The rest are more of the high(er)-order variety – asocial. Robberies. Muggings. Drug-war collateral damage. Home invasions. These can be mitigated to a certain extent as well. (I once had an American friend here who had been mugged/robbed on the street 7 times. 7!! He blamed Tico culture instead of looking inward. If you’ve been mugged 7 times, there’s a pattern you’re emitting that needs self-addressing. It’s not me, it’s you. If after 7 marriages you’re still claiming “haven’t found the right woman”, I have news for you)) These need to be addressed differently, yet I see few (if any) addressing the differences in attack or approach. There’s a one-size-fits-all catch-all mentality that permeates all martial arts/self-defense classes here. And social and asocial violence, symmetrical and asymmetrical attacks (more on these differences in another article), are very different animals that need to be prepped for quite, quite differently.

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My point here, is that the general underlying sentiment from those paranoid and fearful of the country’s violence-prognosis…is askew from their current daily existence. Most citizens tend to generalize and play to media angst-building, surrounding country-comparisons, and paranoia that doesn’t correlate with their own actual life. Compartmentalize and contextualize every scenario of its own volition. What caused it. What contributed to it. What were the intangibles that may have exacerbated it. What were your/the victim’s contributions to it. (an especially hard one for people to healthily dwell-on) Could it be alleviated in your personal circumstances. The 5Ws. Where did it take place. Who were the players involved. What time/when. How did it transpire. Why did it happen to that person.

While these are often seen as detached and somewhat cold….they serve an intrinsic purpose. They’re detached for a reason…so you can see them from a detached (read: unemotional) point-of-view so you can make personal assessments on your own current situation. Think. It’s free.

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