Saturday, September 25, 2010


No one cares about your safety but you. That’s not really true. Your family and friends care. Sometimes I (or people like me) are paid to care… but when it comes down to survival it’s only you.

People confuse concepts like "responsibility" and "blame." Further, they confuse victims and potential victims, and they blur these distinctions inside fuzzy head that sometimes can't tell the difference between the world that is and the world that should be.

In the world that should be, maybe you have the right (another word that many more use than understand) to go where you want and do what you want. Some feel self-righteous and add, "so long as I don't hurt anyone else."

Water is wet. Bears eat meat. To insist on a right to jump into the ocean and stay dry or to invade the space of a hungry bear and not be eaten is infantile. And to insist on some imaginary right to indulge in high risk behaviors and to somehow, magically, be exempt from consequences is equally infantile. Your safety is your responsibility...

And that is where, sometimes, the first cries go up: "That is blaming the victim!"

No, it isn't. And the inability to distinguish between responsibility and blame is crippling here. In the world that is there are things that suck. Economies go bad. People are poor. Sharks eat surfers. Conmen swindle the elderly. Rapists attack the vulnerable.

You could, theoretically, change the world. Make it more fair and equitable and just and vegetarian... but all of that has consequences as well. People taken care of may cease to take care of themselves. Eating lower on the foodchain increases the carrying capacity, and organisms have a tendency to breed to their carrying capacities.

And some parts of the world don't want to change. If you are very lucky (or unlucky) someday, a rapist may try very earnestly to explain that mere sex isn't even in the ballpark of what he experiences in a rape. Tigers don't want to (and couldn't survive) going vegan.

The surfer's safety is his own responsibility-- because the shark doesn't care. To expect the shark to care harkens back to winnie-the-pooh, a safe bear. The college girl getting drunk in a crowd of strange men has to take responsibility. In a pool of possible predators, she is the one who cares...and even hoping or expecting a genuinely good guy to intervene is, at minimum, giving up her autonomy, becoming a helpless passenger in her own life. Those are the people who all too often become victims.

Your safety is your responsibility because no one, especially the predators, can be expected to care..and if you don't care enough why should anyone else?


Deborah Clem said...

Ah, sigh, the dying art of self responsibility. I go hoarse chanting the mantra of self responsibility. If every human on this earth practiced rabid self responsibility,.... what a great world we could create.

Cpl Hall ( said...

"Blame" is a great title. It's funny how we hide behind titles when the truth becomes uncomfortable.

Lise Steenerson said...


Tiff said...

Was difficult for me to read, but necessary. Great post. Thanks, Rory.

jks9199 said...

It ain't a nerf world.

If you want to live in a nerf world... Well, you're not someone I want to spend much time with.

And if you don't want to accept the risks that come with living in a non-nerf world, you're not someone I can play with. I've got scars and sprains and other injuries from things as mild as riding a bike, to as extreme as being swept off my feet so smoothly that I recognized my own feet in front of my face before I hit the ground... or knew what was happening.

I never have understood all these people that want to live a bubble wrap covered nerf world... It's so dull!

Gwynn said...

Food for thought Rory, and a meaty meal it is.

Both the words "blame" and "victim" are complicated here. Historically (especially legally) the concept of "blaming the victim" is important to look at, but perhaps "punishing the victim" would be a more precise way to phrase it.

I have to say that I've always disliked the whole ideology of victimhood to begin with. It's the kind of language I want to use to crusade on behalf of others, but to apply to myself? F*** that.

As far as rights are concerned, I think many forget that any "rights" we hold are simply agreements. But consensus reality only works as long as everyone's on the same page.

On the other hand... how old are you supposed to be before you figure out that water is wet? And can you tell someone that, especially - say - a teenager - and expect them to actually listen? Or do they have to nearly drown first?

My youthful reckless behavior obviously didn't get me killed, here I am writing this. And I didn't engage in it with the idea that I had a "right" to. It was more of a "stop me if you can" attitude. Not that uncommon.

But like many other women's self-defense teachers, I would really really like to prevent the shit from piling down on others. Who I really want to teach? It's those that for whatever reason (inexperience, or they think they're immortal, or they're self-destructive) don't care enough about their own safety. And that is something that I don't believe can be taught.

Charles James said...

Hi, Mr.Miller: Is this tantamount to the Dunning-Krueger effect Kris Wilder talks about on his latest posting?

Mike H. said...

I've tried to make this point many times, and I have found that it is really hard for people to understand when there is a sympathetic victim involved. People are all hung up in "rights" and how things "should be" that they don't want to acknowledge the truth. Power must be respected, regardless of whether it is animate, inanimate, licit, illicit, confronted, avoided, or fled.

I am reminded of the USPS Express Mail delivery guarantee. It's sort of like the "guarantee" that civilization offers you, only stronger. Suppose you have a package that must get somewhere overnight, and that if it doesn't arrive the next day it will cost you thousands of dollars. If the USPS fails to get it there overnight, they will refund your postage.

Steve Perry said...

Do we need a qualification on this? Adult, of sound mind, maybe? Because children and feeble-minded folks maybe don't slot?

Mac said...

Ahh - but - criminals are NOT responsible for their actions and we have a trillion dollar criminal justice system that is designed to hold the victim accountable and excuse the criminal his actions. The police? Resource providers. Jail? A vacation. All anyone has to do to have life-long care - food, clothing, shelter, medical and all the drugs they can handle, is to commit a violent crime. The only thing that keeps criminals from really taking advantage of all the help society offers is - they're mostly dumb asses. Thankfully, jails and prisons have very expensive and skilled counseling staff to enlighten them and hook them up with services. So, it is ESSENTIAL you have a anti-victim mind-set. How? Rory has spoken eloquently about this, but to summarize: awareness of the ways criminals think and act ("scripts"), knowing your strengths and limitations, and PAYING ATTENTION to your instincts.

Tiff said...

Don't get me wrong -- I'm a huge proponent for self responsibility. But I still can't shake the irritating feeling that the whole "you should've known better" inherently excuses the criminal for his/her behavior. After all, it's just a fact of life -- a law of nature -- not something that SHOULD be reformed, resolved, or evolved away from, right? Right?

My point: There is a difference between acknowledging criminality and submitting to its presence.

Mike H. said...

Once an attack happens, it is hard not to think about the perp, but if you only think about this in the context of some attack that actually happens, then it clouds the issue. Life is about probabilities mostly. Try to think about it in terms of choices you make regardless of the outcome in any one case. Has someone you loved ever said to you something like, "What were you thinking??? Don't you know you could have been killed???" At least you could imagine this, I'm sure. It's about whatever kind of responsibility that is.