What We Embrace; What We Must Teach

In what direction are we steering our society by teaching our children never to defend themselves?

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Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. –John 15:13

No greater courage can a man display, than that he risks his own well-being to defend that of another. – anonymous

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In July of 2018, we did a survey in an effort to support or disprove a single hypothesis: that contemporary philosophies being taught and imposed upon younger generations is conditioning them to accept being victims, and to not defend themselves or others.

It’s unfortunate to report that the survey not only supported the hypothesis but it did so in a big way. With over 700 respondents across three generations, the survey answers clearly indicated that with each generation from Baby Boomers, to Gen X, to Millennials and Gen Y, there has been a steady increase of incidents wherein students are disciplined for defending themselves from bullying and for defending others from bullying.

In that same survey, the instances of those answering being the victim of personal crimes also increased, almost in direct proportion to the punishment levels, across the same generational evolution. Keeping that in mind, also consider the reality that we, of late, are having a hard time recruiting people not only into our public safety disciplines but also for our military branches as well.

The question I have is: why would we be surprised? Thanks to “zero tolerance” and the fact that we’re now two generations into punishing our children for defending themselves, we shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that a greater portion of those generations are adverse to fighting for any reason whatsoever, but most especially in self-defense. They’ve been taught, all too well, that it’s preferable and more admirable to be willing victims; that doing so somehow makes them more heroic.

Along the way, we’ve also taught them not to defend others who are weaker than they are; not to defend the underdog; not to stand up for anything or anyone. Now think about this for a minute…

Standing up for others; risking your life to protect others; accepting risk to stand in the gap, protecting innocents and defending them… it’s what law enforcement does. It should be honored and admired and yet too many kids today are being taught the opposite. They are being taught not to do so and it’s slowly degrading our society from within.

Thankfully, there is hope – but we must embrace it like a seedling and nurture it into steady growth while we evolve the environment around it. The hope is in those children who are taught, in strong homes, the value and righteousness of defending themselves and others. The hope we have is when we look at our children or grandchildren and see those who stand up for what’s right, defending some who can’t or won’t defend themselves. The hope is in the next generation we see enlisting in the military… applying to join the police department… or just standing their ground when someone tries to threaten or intimidate a physically or emotionally weaker person.

That hope… those individuals… they have to be acknowledged and hear how proud we are of them; how much we appreciate them. And while we do so, we must work to change the outlook of society. Rather than having our school systems and so many parents praise tolerance and preach only counseling and offering sympathy to the bullies, we have to keep doing that while we teach the absolute necessity of never being a victim and never standing by to see anyone else be a victim. Rather than seeing a steadily dwindling number of courageous people willing to defend themselves and others, we need to foster and grow that sentiment – that defending yourself is admirable and justifiable; that defending others is downright heroic.

So, here is my challenge to you: I challenge you to teach your children and any other of the younger generations you might mentor – teach them to avoid the situations in the altogether if they can; to use their communication skills and seek help from others when the situation(s) become unavoidable; and, if all else fails, to fight back as they must. Teach them that it is absolutely not only okay but honorable and righteous to defend themselves. Teach them that it is even better to have the courage to defend others who are too weak to defend themselves.

It’s our hope for the future.

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