Thursday, October 24, 2013

Roz Chast (!?!?) on Self-Defense

Roz Chast is one of my favorite cartoonists. Her work is often featured in The New Yorker, which is where I found the cartoon below.

Though I doubt this was her intention, Chast actually did a good job summing up one of the key components of practical self-defense: avoidance.

For example, consider "Can sense trouble from ten miles away." I sort of read this as a simplification of the principles behind Gavin de Becker's excellent book The Gift of Fear. If you can sense trouble (and you can, if you trust your instincts) avoid it!

How about being an "Expert at making self invisible"? Despite our exhibitionistic society, being noticed is not always a good thing. I had a good friend who was a life-of-the-party/class-clown kind of guy. Unfortunatley, he couldn't really turn it off, and more than once he encountered critics who were willing to express their disaproval of his antics with their fists.

Finally, "Master of deflection." For some types of violence, especially the 'Monkey Dance,' there is a verbal interview phase; e.g. "What you looking at?" This is the time for deflection or talking your way out of the situation, instead of playing the game by responding with something stupid ("What am I looking at? Your ugly face!")

In his book Meditations on Violence, Rory Miller writes
It is better to avoid than to run; better to run than to de-escalate; better to de-escalate than to fight; better to fight than to die.  
I think Roz Chast's cartoon illustrates some of those principles nicely.

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