There are times when we have no choice but to fight. There are times when, after all other options are off the table, our best choice is to strike first and strike hard.
These times are exceedingly rare, but they are out there:
- When someone attacks you, and you fear for your life, and you can’t talk them down, and you can’t run;
- When someone pulls out a gun in the crowded food court where your family is eating lunch, and you’re close enough to do something;
- When someone is in your home with a weapon, and you fear for your life or your family’s;
- When someone assaults you sexually, and you can’t talk them down, and you can’t run.
There are other times, I’m sure, and we all have to use our own judgment in the moment, because nobody else’s judgment is available to us. To me, if it’s time to fight, it’s time to go all in. No rules, no limits. The fight ends when one of us no longer has the capacity to fight back. Those are very high stakes, and that means I probably won’t choose to fight unless I have no other option to stay alive or to protect somebody else.
There are plenty of folks who disagree with me, who think the bar is much lower than I’ve set it–and there are those who don’t believe we should fight at all, even in the cases above. Either approach takes courage.
What doesn’t take courage is to attack someone who’s no threat to you, to choose to fight someone weaker because of something they’ve done, or worse, something they are.
Violence, I think, harms the perpetrator as much as the victim, if in different ways. If you don’t believe me, talk to a veteran who’s killed, if he or she is willing. Knowing more about the consequences of our actions might help all of us be more selective in who we choose to harm.
(The examples above have their comparable scenarios at the national level, as well, although the lines get fuzzier.)