Society does not survive because we enforce the laws. Society survives because we choose to live by them. The unwritten laws of social interplay and personal space weave the fabric of our lives. And while this programming makes us good neighbors and upright citizens, it can cripple us in times of a primal emergency.
An attack by another human being is a primal emergency, and requires the cunning and lawlessness of our primal ancestors to survive. I’m not necessarily talking about extremes, although everyone can agree that killing in self defense or the defense of another is justifiable. This third part of How Not to Get Mugged aims at exploring the small rules and preconceptions that can hamper you in your escape, and how you can learn to dispose of them temporarily when it becomes necessary.
My third brush with muggers was the most violent and ugly of them all. I was standing at a city train station close to my college. The station consisted of a platform raised five or six feet over the expanse of gravel and railroad tracks below, like a small floating island. The only entrance or exit to the platform was a door that led underground and came out of the side of a hill nearby. If you have read parts one and two, available under my CP page, you will already know that this is a terrible setup in terms of safety.
With me on the platform was another college student. He was obviously not expecting the violence of city life, as he stood near the door, earphones blasting away his audio perception while his interest in his book destroyed his visual perception. And so, when the three muggers emerged from the door he did not see them. He paid no attention as the walked directly up to him, and clubbed him over the head with some sort of object.
I watched these events as though in slow motion. I am a more paranoid person, and I knew what was happening, although I waited for the violence before I reacted. I didn’t see the victim hit the ground, because as soon as the muggers arm came down on his head my body had turned and I was leaping from the platform like a gazelle.
The adrenalin softened the blow of the fall and kept my legs running. After a few hundred feet I turned to see if I was being followed. One of the three muggers was standing at the spot on the platform where I had lept. He stared at me as if to say, “You’re not allowed to do that!” Perhaps it is my nature which saved me. I am not one who abides insignificant rules, and am in the habit of wandering across train tack fields and other places I’m not supposed to be.
This is the main preconception to do away with in cases of attack. There is nowhere you can’t go, even if it means you may hurt yourself a little getting there. Jumping off of a three story roof is obviously out of the question, but six or even ten feet will be no problem is your adrenalin is going. If you have to invade someone else’s personal space, such as their house or business, just remember to scream for help while you do it. They will understand, and in these cases the police are always your friend.
I had escaped, but the other young man did not. A few seconds after my flying escape I regained my mind and ran for the police station. Sadly, while the station was located less than fifty yards from the platform, a high chain link fence prevented me from reaching them easily. By the time I got to them, and they got to the platform, the muggers were gone.
This brings me to the guilt. I consider myself to be a good person, but I will abandon a stranger to save myself. If it had been a girl under attack, my biological and social programming might have made me act differently, and I would probably not have been able to save the person anyway. I just remind myself, and you should too, that unless you are some sort of super-martial-artist, or a police officer, or a street hardened vigilante, you cannot save anyone.
It scares me a little that I didn’t even have to think before I left the other guy to be beaten and mugged, but it also reassures me. However, in truth, the best way to help someone in that situation is to escape yourself, and then get help for them.
It’s about survival. All of the things I have talked about in this series can be found and understood by looking inside yourself to find your ancestral brain. Connect with the part of yourself that knows it is flesh in a world where flesh is food. Look for the ancestral memories of giant wolves and saber-toothed tigers. Our modern world is still rampant with them.
Develop your fear, but don’t let it overtake you. Instead learn to use it as a tool, and you may stand a chance of surviving this wild species.