My Anthem

Friday, July 04, 2014

John Ling in NZ Poses the Increasingly Important Question:

Are You a Victim Or a Survivor?


I had an interesting discussion with a friend just the other day. We were talking about the pervasiveness of violent crime and how the headlines seem to be getting uglier.

Are we living in an increasingly sick society? Are our public policies failing us? Are we on a downward slide to oblivion?

Surprisingly, my friend had a unique take on the situation. She doesn’t believe that criminals are mushrooming in number, nor does she believe that these criminals are becoming more violent than they were in previous decades.

Naturally, I expressed my scepticism at this. If criminals aren’t becoming more brazen, then why are we experiencing so much anxiety about crime? Why do we keep hearing about it? It can’t just be collective moral panic.

My friend rolled her eyes and put the blame squarely on the kind of society we live in today. We have become increasingly urbanised. Grown dependent on modern conveniences. And survival skills that were common only two or three generations ago have been lost. As a result, we have become less self-reliant and more naïve.

My friend recited a statistic to drive home her point. At the beginning of the 20th century, 90% of people were self-employed. They were farmers, artisans, craftsmen. Today that number has shrunk to 2%. We are now almost entirely a society of corporate rats and cubicle dwellers. Self-sufficiency, it seems, is no longer fashionable.

To make matters worse, our senses are no longer as sharp as they were in previous generations. My friend offered an example of this. In 1950, if a young man ventured outdoors for a walk, he would probably have the habit of pivoting his head from side to side, and his eyes would constantly be scanning his environment. Fast-forward to 2014, and that same man would probably be texting on his smartphone or listening to his iPod. He won’t see danger coming. He won’t even hear it.

My friend summed it up like this – it’s the number of victims that have soared rather than the number of criminals. Through a combination of ignorance, apathy and distraction, people are setting themselves up to be targets of opportunity. And unless that mindset changes, we won’t be seeing a drastic reduction in violent crime anytime soon.

While I have trouble wrapping my mind around some of the more controversial aspects of her theory, the gist of my friend’s argument is still sound. What separates a victim from a survivor is the mindset. And if you’re constantly studying your environment instead of squinting down at your smartphone, you’ll become a harder target for a criminal to strike at.

Prevention, as they say, is better than the cure. And making sure you don't become a crime statistic is even better.

Do you have questions? Comments? Perhaps you have a real-life story of your own to share? I'd love to hear from you. You can get in touch with me by visiting my website.

Until next time, stay aware and stay safe!

Best Wishes
John Ling

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