“STOCKHOLM-SYNDROME” & THE GOOD SAMARITAN effect

Have you clearly outlined your personal task-orientation?

It´s always cut-and-dried, right? Intervention. Chivalry. Good samaritanism. We always aim to do the “right thing.” Be noble. Help the weak. But what if “the weak” isn´t so easy to identify? What if helping the weak puts our own tribe in immediate jeopardy? Do you have all the information to make the call? To some, those who see things forever in black-and-white with no shades-of-grey or a kaleidoscope of colors, this read may make you somewhat uncomfortable and simultaneously put my morality up for debate. But read ´til the end before making either of those calls.

I used to be one of those guys. ALWAYS stand-up for the downtrodden or picked-on or vulnerable or weaker. Many times it paid-off and I interjected on behalf of someone who wasn´t either capable, able, or willing to do so on their own behalf. Some times not. Often things aren´t as they seem and we make a judgment call. We see a brief, fleeting moment in a much greater and wider scope of an event and we guess wrong, and that misjudgment runs the risk of coming back and biting us in the proverbial ass.

I remember a friend of a friend from back home that saw a male-aggressor being rude to a female he obviously knew. Roughing her up. Yelling. Berating. He noticed that no bystanders were getting involved. So he jumped-off the bus and intervened. The result was an attack from both parties at knife-point. FOF was lucky to be alive after multiple stab-wounds. You see, often we take a very big, hypothesized-guess as to what´s transpiring and commit our 3rd-party righteous-standing to that rather vague guess. It happens all. The. Time. The 3rd-party taking the brunt of animosity from the other 2 parties when involving themselves in a situation they really know very little about.

Let´s quickly peruse just some of those possible scenarios:

  1. Lover´s quarrel. You have no idea what their personal dynamic is. They may get-off fighting in public, roughing each other up, fire their sex-life with yelling and name-calling, be jointly pulling-off a scam or robbery on that unsuspecting good Samaritan (you), or any number of other scenarios. While it doesn´t give any right to assault physically, that man may have just been assaulted multiple times by the woman prior to your arrival, he may have been robbed or attacked by her, she may have scammed him. You. don´t. know.
  2. Family lines. One family member steals from another. Cheats with the other´s spouse. Mistreats the other´s child. Slanders or defames the other. You get involved to be just or even just to maintain family unity. How many times have we seen you end up being the villain while the other two walk happily into the sunset and patch things up at a later date while you look the fool, being ostracized, or shunned for “butting your nose in where it didn´t belong.” You may have the had the best interests of one or even both the parties involved but it doesn´t change the outcome.
  3. Work issues. Mistreatment of allies, friends, or peers. You give a show of unity to a victim of seeming unfairness and end up losing your job while the victim keeps on going and collecting that paycheque and feeding his or her family.
  4. Friend or match-fight. The pacifist. Trying to separate to (generally but not always limited to) males in a duel. Over a woman. A spilt beer. Money owed. Drunk or high and snarly. Whatever. The peace-maker trying desperately for everyone to “just get along” and “let bygones be bygones.”

To be clear, every one of these has ended in loss at one point, likely on multiple points. Whether it´s losing family, income, alliances…or life. A lot of these are explosive and when we appear on the scene with half-knowledge of the back-story, it can often be a very risky proposition. Now, let´s take that a step further. What if we decide to get involved in a potentially-explosive situation when out with our family; our wife, young children, aged parents, beloved family pet along for the ride? Do we jeopardize their safety through no choice of their own? Do we dictate the risk and threat of loved ones by our own unilateral choice? Is putting their well-being in the line-of-fire justifiable by our own chivalry and do-gooding? Who is more important to you, a stranger, acquaintance, satellite, or disloyal family member….or the tribe we live with day-to-day? What are some unseen intangibles that could even more greatly affect outcome that you may not see or be privy to?

To be fair, sometimes a situation is exactly as it seems, we see the full-spectrum unfold, and intervention may seem like a very good and safe idea. Sometimes heroes are called for born. These are rare, however, compared to the low-key, daily, unpublicized scenarios. We most often are Johnny-come-lately and are missing some very enlightening stimuli. Sometimes a situation is simply not what it seems and we have bigger priorities at-hand. Sometimes we don´t…but we risk taking ourselves out of the equation by doing so collaterally. Can your wife and children get-by without you, your income, your protection, your efforts should you end up in jail or dead? Or even incapacitated for a lengthy period? Can the family afford a lengthy trial, lawyer fees, fines, court costs, settlements, bonds to get you off of a reverse self-defense or assault claim? How about targeting or vulnerability from revenge-tactics or the regular threats of daily-living while you put in some time?

And what about capability? You may have the greatest combative ability in the world but without the capability you´re the most-effective firearm in the world walking around with no bullets in the chamber. Meaningless. Are you capable (not able, ask yourself the right questions) of hurting another human-being? Badly? Life-alteringly? Can you utilize a tool on another person? Under the right circumstances? What are the “right” circumstances? When couldn´t you? When are you not willing? What situations would you definitively be capable of doing so? Which are sketchy? Can you deal with the post-event consequences for those “right” reasons? Will they be the “right” reasons to others holding your fate in their hands down the line? Would it matter with certain contexts? Hard questions, to be sure. If they make you deeply-uncomfortable…that´s good. They should. They are designed to. They are neither easy questions to hear nor answer and they take some real soul-searching for those who take all of this as more than fantasy role-playing. There´s a lot hanging in the balance of their conclusions.

I, nor anybody else – your self-defense coach, martial arts guru, pistol-instructor, father or mother, local law-enforcement, life-coach, psychologist – can make them for you and they have to be decided on prior to events, not during. During is too late. When decisiveness and action take precedence of hesitation and analysis is NOT the time to decide legal, moral, spiritual, ethical calls on choice. (Sometimes enough where your decisions are made for you with disastrous result.) That should long ago have been made clear in your personal mission-statement, task-orientation, force-purpose, violence-or-counter-violence-manifesto – whatever terminology you use. The human brain loops and freezes and hesitates and stalls when having to split attention both on the threat at-hand and your personal momentary moral-conundrum. Peace with (your) Ggod, readiness for death, fear of injury, family´s future, internal peace are not accomplished under extreme duress with high-stakes. Funny how that´s never mentioned in most martial-arts or self-defense classes, isn´t it – seems like pretty heady stuff that shouldn´t be glossed-over or ignored.

So, take some time. All the time. A lot of time. And go through some of the above questions. Dig deep. Be uncomfortable. Be honest about your capability. Go over scenarios, situations, circumstances, chance, fate, karma. Make peace with whatever you need to make peace with. And be clear. Clarity allows for task-focus, with full-attention. And remember, this is where a very clear understanding of “don´t be a dick”, “mind your own business”, “keep your mouth shut”, “suck in your pride”, and “priorities” should also be part of an honest internal conversation. Remember, sometimes a live family-man/woman is better than a dead hero.

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