Sgt. Rory Miller calls it ‘the Monkey Dance’. Two guys square off with one another, shouting character invectives with puffed chests and angry faces. They don’t have to fight, but their pride pulls them into a knuckle-tango that is socially mandated to prove who is the “better man”. Walking away from the situation is an option, but too impalatable for the ego.
A fight ensues. One pummels the other to the ground where he continues to bounce the head of his enemy off the asphalt with clean strokes. Bystanders, who initially seemed quite okay with the prospect of a real fight, now intervene as if some unspoken rule has been violated. The fight is done. The opponent is bloodied and unconscious as the victor stands up, satisfied with the belief that he has “proven himself”. He goes on with his day, leaving his battered opponent to concerned onlookers who feel the need to call an ambulance.
The video of this “victory” goes up on YouTube. It circulates locally and at the end of the day, the two participants are identified. The police show up at the residence of the victor. He looks oblivious as cuffs are slapped around his wrists and an officer charges him with manslaughter. Hours before, his opponent had passed away from coup/counter-coup brain injuries which lead to a life compromising encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). In addition to state charges, the surviving family members are intent on exhausting every legal resource available to them in pursuit of exacting retribution for the death of their loved one. This “victor” is about to spend some serious time in an 8 x 8 cell, all because his ego needed stroked.
Sound surreal? It isn’t.
Fact is, real situations like the above fiction abound.
Take for instance the plight of a 15-yr-old in Marysville, Washington now facing charges after he entered a mutual fight and continued to kick his opponent (16) in the head after knocking him to the ground. The 16-yr-old died from brain injuries and the 15-yr-old was subsequently arrested.
Here is another mutual fighting case from the same state, also ending in death. A 25-yr-old and 55-yr-old exchanged inflammatory words before one pulled a pistol.
Among other variables, these fights and their related deaths tend to manifest out of poor self-control, and the allure of bragging rights. Take my word for it, there is nothing “badass” about participating in a street fight if you could have just walked away.
If this notion is too cliché for you, maybe the following list of ‘fight gains’ will communicate the point better.
What You Stand to Gain from a Mutual Street Fight
1. You could end up with a lawsuit. Seriously injuring your opponent is tantamount to throwing yourself into jail (depending on your statutes). In some states, the individual who provoked the fight (verbally or otherwise) ends up facing the hammer of the judicial system. By choosing to fight, you waive your innocence in view of the law.
2. You could gain a friend or two, depending on the nature of the fight. Hardly worth your time though.
3. You could be infected with blood-borne pathogens like HIV (the purveyor of AIDS), Hepatitis variants, tetanus, and others. Nothing like bloodying your knuckles for a life-time of suffering at the hands of communicable disease, right?
4. You may tarnish your reputation. Believe it or not, there are those who will see you as a buffoon for daring to engage in a completely avoidable fight. I know I would.
5. You risk incurring severe physical injuries. Suppose you are the one who ends up getting kicked in the head? Do you have a job? What will you do when that gimped leg prevents you from working?
6. You exhibit your ignorance of use-of-force ethics. Violence should be used as a means to keep the peace. Whether civilian or not, your use-of-force says a lot about your character, values, and knowledge respecting civil society.
7. You could gain some valuable experience. But, once again, risk applies.
If you are going to engage in a mutual fight, know the risks. Personally, I think you would be insensitive to reason if you chose to fight someone for the hell of it.
For my ninjutsu subscribers out there, note that shinobi and samurai alike would purposively avoid places that invited trouble unless their positions or objectives required their presence in such areas.
Ending conflict before it metamorphoses into a blatant conflagration is superior to dousing a flame with gasoline that is ultimately quelled with water.
Don’t be a victim of your own ego.