On Thinking Ahead

Why Do We Go To Such Extremes In Rewarding What Should Be Normal Behavior?

A few weeks ago, a trio of Americans and a Brit, who had the good sense to remain anonymous, where highly rewarded for tackling a deranged gunman before he began shooting on a high speed train in France.

The guy had emerged from the restroom carrying an AK47. I don’t know about you, but I would instantly assume he was up to no good. If I were anywhere near him I would not attempt to engage him in a rational conversation. I would do everything in my power to disarm him.

Now I am pretty severely handicapped, so I might not be able to do much, but I, for sure, would be biting that asshole on the ankle if I could get there.

There is nothing heroic about doing that. Saving lives accidentally is not particularly heroic. It was, after all, a threat to all the people on the train,which included each of those who tackled the man. It was clearly an act of self interest to disarm him.

Why should that be treated as such an extraordinary act of nobility? Rather, what I think should be raised by this action is the promptness of the quartet’s reaction. A second later and the story probably would have been very different. The message should be that we all need to be ready all the time. Imagine yourself as the person nearest the bathroom as the perp comes out carrying the AK47. Don’t hesitate. Tackle him. Tackle him whether you be able to bring him down or not. Tackle him whether you be man or woman, disabled or not. Tackle him!

Imagine the worst, and how you might be able to respond. Do that while at home. Your security is not something you want to farm out to strangers, whether they are better able to fight the fight than you or not.

A more interesting case, perhaps, lies in a scenario where you are not directly threatened. For instance, suppose you see a cop being attacked,obviously, by an auto occupant outside his car as you drive by on a freeway? Do you stop? Do you call 911? Do you do nothing? I don’t know.

Perhaps it depends mostly on the condition of the cell phone you’re carrying. Perhaps your speed. Does the cop or the citizen have the upper hand? Perhaps the final question is a matter of your personal experience with the cops. Perhaps the question in your mind comes down to the race of the cop and the motorist.

The important thing, I think, is that you have thought about it, even if only in  the abstract, before you find yourself in the situation.

You should not expect a big reward. Do the right thing. The best time to think about it is now, when you have the time to think about it.

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