In the beginning a person’s emotions are pure, caring, giving, forgiving, and all that is moral. But as an individual experiences life, they can make choices and have character that is so far removed from normal it’s horrific. There is a sliding scale on “removed from normal”, from “it’s no big deal” to “it’s the worst thing I’ve heard in my life.”
When we encounter another person who has become “removed from normal”, we can easily fall into thinking or assuming that they are a moral person. Whether because of denial, fear, or naiveté, we place on them our own label of morality. This is what I call assumed morality.
“They have to be a good person because I’m a good person. They won’t hurt me. They won’t kill me. I’m a good person, I was raised correctly, and deep down inside I know that violence is not the answer, defending myself isn’t the answer. I’ll just wait until they become that good person. Eventually they will come to their senses. I just don’t believe it will happen to me.”
This is the deep subconscious thought of a person who is being victimized. They feel fear, they suspect something might be wrong, but they talk themselves out of it. They just don’t believe that bad things happen in the world. But indeed they do.
Assumed morality is what the criminal uses against good people to take advantage of them. Criminals know that deep down inside you’re probably a good person, and since you’re not a criminal like them, you won’t fight back. They’re assuming that you wouldn’t dare cause them harm. The criminal actually believes that they don’t have much to fear as long as they put you in fear for your life.
This assumed morality is why good people think that they don’t need to be able to defend themselves. They don’t believe they are in danger. They think crime is something they see on the news; that it doesn’t really happen to people like them. It’s not real to them. They live in a little plastic bubble in their own little world and they want to keep it like that. “All people are good.” This is the thought process of someone who assumes morality.
Assumed morality distorts our priorities in life. This is why a person can see a horrific story on the news about someone else being victimized, raped, beaten, or murdered, and they don’t do anything about it. They can relate. It hurts them inside. They wish it never happened to that person. But they don’t think it’s going to happen to them. They don’t think it’s possible that anything close to that could happen to them. It’s almost like watching a cartoon. It’s just not real.
Yet if we see that there’s lead paint on some kid’s toy in some small town on the other side of the United States, it might make national headlines and parents will go to the store and complain. They will sue. They will take affirmative action to stop the lead paint on toys that one or two small children might have been chewing on.
That’s not to take away from the seriousness of lead paint, but look at the action taken. Look at the expression of anger and the proactive activity that people will take over something like lead paint on a toy, but not something as horrific as a triple homicide or a rape, a kidnapping, home invasion or carjacking.
Assumed morality has become the law of the land, especially in the United States where we live in a plastic bubble and we don’t see violence first-hand on a daily basis like other countries. We don’t have guys running down the street firing AK47s into houses, or beheadings on the side of the road, or women being beaten because they shouldn’t show their faces. This is the United States of America. Violence like that is not a common scene. Do we have crime? Absolutely. Is this a violent country? Yes it is. But we don’t have random war-type violence like a lot of places. So we are the kings of assumed morality.
Anywhere there are established laws that make people feel relatively comfortable, they assume that all is good in the world. All their defenses are down. In no way shape or form are they interested in taking a self-defense class, in taking martial arts, in spreading the word to their family about stranger awareness. This is a country where it’s not a requirement at any point in a child’s education to learn about stranger awareness or self-defense. We do teach them how to play dodge ball and how to cook and sew. We send them to art class. We make all of that mandatory, but nothing when it comes to stranger awareness, safety or selfdefense. And what’s our most prized possession? Our children. Yet we don’t force that education on them. It kind of makes you wonder.
Assumed morality is the law of the land, but it’s a law that must be broken. We must break it on a consistent basis, and we must tell others to break it. We must educate our families to break it. Assumed morality is the ultimate factor
which creates victims and keeps people from fighting back. When we believe that everyone is a good person and we tell our children that everyone is good, we do them a disservice, because they aren’t. It’s one of the most dangerous concepts that you can possibly think of, and it’s the one thing that keeps people in constant danger of becoming a victim because they walk around defenseless, with zero selfdefense education, to the point that it’s reckless.
Keep in mind that we meet strange people on a daily basis, and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. Do we really want to continue to do that with absolutely no idea how to interact with them and what to look for when it comes to keeping ourselves and our families and our friends safe?
The Crippling Effects of Assumed Morality
Assumed morality has wide-reaching effects. People will pay to protect all the material items in their lives before they pay for self-defense. They justify this because they either “have to have it” or “it’s nice to have it”. Car insurance. Home insurance. Pet insurance. Cell phone insurance. Insurance on appliances such as the big-screen TV, the washer, the dryer. Jet ski insurance. Boat insurance. Lawn mower insurance. Anything you can buy in a large department store they will sell maintenance packages on, which means if you pay a little bit extra, you can bring it back and they’ll fix it. Even actors have insurance on themselves. Companies get “key man” insurance for the most important person in a business and of course health insurance. That’s important.
But not as important as your life. Motorcycle insurance. Insurance on your Ipod. Insurance on your laptop. Fraud insurance. Mortgage insurance. The list can go on and on and on. I can sit here all day and talk about all the specific items people believe they need to protect and pay for before they’ll take a self-defense course or martial art class.
While all these items have their place, and some of them are genuinely important, you can literally not pay for any of them and still be alive. Self-defense training in this day and age could potentially be the difference between life and death. Not only that, it’s probably one of the most affordable things you can possibly pay for. It costs less than one car payment to take a good self-defense class. A great martial art program costs less than home insurance. While all these material possessions are important, they depreciate. They go away. They can be broken, repaired, replaced. But you as an individual are the most important person in the world, and what have you done to insure that?
Here are some of the excuses that people come up with to not train or take a self-defense course:
- My daughter has cheerleading.
- My son has volleyball. We have Boy Scouts on that night.
- They’ve got a lot of homework.
- I work a little late; I’d probably show up to class five or ten minutes late.
- Gas prices are high.
- I don’t have enough money.
- Things are hectic at work.
- I’m getting married.
- I’m going on vacation.
- The holidays are coming.
- Little Johnny is going away for summer camp.
- My car is broken down.
- We’re looking to buy a house.
- I really want my child to get into a good college; she needs to study more.
- I’m not sure what the best style is so I’m just going to keep looking.
- My husband owns a gun.
- I have a concealed weapons permit.
- I would just kick him in the groin.
- We live in a good neighborhood.
- My brother’s a cop.
- My mom knows the sheriff.
- He’s so wrapped up with football.
- She’s the Student Body President so she doesn’t have time.
- She wants to be the Homecoming Queen, so she’s focused on that.
- She’s running for student council.
- The twins are in college.
This list can go on and on and on. I’ll spare you some of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard.
I don’t mean to say these things aren’t important. They have their place. But you would gladly make time to enroll your child or yourself into a self-defense the minute you found out that you were definitely going to be the victim of someone the next day.
Example 1: Tomorrow at 4 o’clock a guy will come up to your daughter and grab her around the neck and try with all of his might to force her into a van. He is pumped up, and his whole intent is to kidnap your daughter, take her to an undisclosed location, sexually assault her, and then kill her and throw her in a dumpster. You can Google this. It happens all the time.
Now, if you knew that tomorrow at 4 o’clock this was going to happen, what do you do today to avoid that? Would you pay any price? Would you seek out professional help? Would you take a lesson or two? Would you make it a priority?
If you knew you were about to be a victim, I bet your cheerleading, football, student council, and Boy Scouts could all be put on the back burner for a very short amount of time in order to get the necessary education so you can have a fighting chance, and most likely avoid that situation all together.
Example 2: You’re walking out of a bar or restaurant with your significant other. Two males approach. They knock your wife or girlfriend down. They commence to beating you with a baseball bat until you’re unconscious. You suffer traumatic brain injury, and you’re going to be laid up in the hospital for five months. Meanwhile, they put her in a car and drive her off and have fun with her while you lay there bloody and beaten.
Does that sound nasty? Does it sound horrific? It is. And if we assume morality of course we assume that no one would ever do that. Not to you. Not to me. But it happens. It happens quite often. Violent, tragic events just like that happen in every city in America.
Now, if I told you that this was going to happen to you tomorrow at 4 o’clock, what would you do today to avoid it, prevent it, or at least have a fighting chance in that situation? I bet you would do anything you could.
When something becomes a priority, it’s amazing what people can and will do. I’ve heard people say they don’t have money, but when I ask them, “What if you go outside and discover you have two flat tires on your car? How long would you let your car sit there before you fixed it?” most people say they would have to fix them the same day, because they’ve got to go to work.
That makes me want to pull my hair out! Do you see what I’m talking about when I say priorities? Two tires cost three or four hundred dollars. Where do you get the money? Well, you need to have use of your car, so you find a way.
You have to have tires, but you don’t see the same need for self-defense training. Because you assume all people are moral and you assume nothing could ever happen to you, and you’re just going to go on living in this bubble until someone comes along and pops it. Then you will be the person on the news, and someone else will be assuming morality and be in their own little bubble.
You’ll never see an animal in the animal kingdom that has the ability to do this. Animals hunt for their food. They don’t kill for pride, or revenge, or pleasure. They’re territorial because they need the territory for mating, for hunting, for their species’ survival. That’s all instinctual to them.
Humans are very capable of this. They do it all the time. That’s why we see crime on TV. It is and always will be a part of human culture. And if we continue to assume morality in other people, and they’re assuming morality in us to use it against us because we’re the good guys, this battle will go back and forth.
The good guy needs to hear the internal voice that says “I know what humans are capable of. I know what they can do. I know this because I’m one of them. They’re capable of both phenomenal achievements and horrific acts, and everything in between. So I will never let my guard down, at any time, anywhere, ever, for the rest of my life.”
You don’t have to be paranoid. We have a saying in our COBRA SelfDefense Program: “Be prepared to kill anyone you meet until they give you a reason not to.” And that can happen really quickly. It can be a handshake and a look in the eye. But you will always, always keep your personal awareness on high alert because you are the single most important person in the world. Your family, your friends, your loved ones — those are the most important people in your circle.
Through training and education you can drop the assumed morality that we label everyone with, and you can adopt a higher state of awareness and personal safety. You can trend toward an attitude of self-defense and personal protection.