There’s a concept that’s been percolating inside my skull for a bit: Therapeutic Moralistic Self-Defense. This is the idea that people a) Need to feel safe and b) Don’t want to actually permanently injure or kill somebody in order to feel that way. It manifests itself in things like using oven cleaner or wasp spray on a bad guy rather than pepper spray. Pepper spray is a unitasker, a tool dedicated to one purpose, namely self-defense.
The idea of a violence-oriented unitasker offends the sensibilities of people suffering from TMSD, because it acknowledges the cognitive dissonance between how they imagine violence to be and how it really is. Other examples of this are the idea of using a baseball bat instead of a gun, (as if beating someone to death is a far nicer fate than a round thru the medulla oblongata), putting your car keys thru the fingers of your fist, etc, etc.
The best analogy I can think of for understanding what self defense really is (and forgive me because I know it’s flawed as all get out) is choosing to follow a new religion. I used “Therapeutic Moralistic Self Defense” because it mirrors the unofficial state religion of the U.S., Therapeutic Moralistic Deism. The vast majority of the populace wants to believe in a god of some kind, feel good about their moral choices, and believe that they’re going to their version of heaven because of those choices.
What they don’t want is any teaching that challenges those choices or makes them think that they aren’t innately worthy of receiving an eternal reward. The same is true for self defense. People want to feel that they’re doing the right thing, without doing something unusual or confronting the eternal consequences of their actions.
Thinking about it more, there is a flaw in how most people approach integrating armed self defense into a lifestyle. We assume it’s like any other hobby, i.e. the “does owning a guitar make you a guitarist?” argument. However, being a guitarist (or taking up scuba diving or whatever) doesn’t require me to change how I potentially view the actions of my fellow humans. I can be who I am, live my life, learn how to play the guitar and I’ll never have to train myself to go into Condition Orange (or similar idea) when, say, I mis-tune my guitar. I have different skills now (I can play guitar), but how I see the world remains essentially unchanged.
This is not true of armed self-defense. It’s not just acquiring the skill of a sub-second draw or three second Bill Drill. Instead, we are literally asking people to change how they see the world, to see the people around them in a whole new light.
Which is, in essence, what happens when you change religions. You see the world in a whole new way. A religion, any religion, gives you a framework for understanding people’s actions and inner motives. So does the Cooper Color Code.
It’s a flawed and incomplete analogy, but I think it bears some further investigation by the firearms community. We tell people that armed self-defense is a lifestyle, but it’s a lifestyle that ultimately alters our worldview. The question then becomes, does that worldview get altered because of external forces via the classic “Come To Jesus” moment or by an internal decision brought on by coaching and guidance from a mentor, aka discipleship? The first example, the “Come To Jesus Moment,” would be someone who is quite literally mugged by reality, or is worried about their personal safety, gets their concealed carry permit and goes on to live the armed lifestyle.
That’d be me.
The second example would be a trainer or school who provides the guidance and support to help a person change their views. Gunsite, Tom Givens and a few other trainers provide that level of support. Most trainers do not, because most trainers are stuck in a skills-based mindset. To go back to the hobby analogy, they’re trying to teach guitar to someone who really wants inner peace, and then wonder why no one takes their advanced pistol class.