The Little Black Book of Violence is actually pretty big. The book is an invaluable tome that should be part of the curriculum of life for every man. In case the title turns you off, let me say up front that the author’s goal is to reduce violence, not escalate it. If you think that the subject of violence is only for people who live in the inner city or have too much testosterone let me use a very recent example from my own life of how violence (or it’s potential) can find you at even the most unexpected places.
Last night I was in line at a fast-food drive through at around 9:30pm. Things were apparently not going well inside the restaurant. All of us in line had to wait a very long time to get our food and I found my order had been botched after I was too far away to warrant going back. This long wait seemed to be very trying for a couple of hicks who were in a big red truck behind me because they started screaming maniacally in their version of the english language and waiving their hands out the windows.
I was laughing about this at first until the car ahead of me finally drove off and I was next up to get my food. The attention of these hicks turned to me at that point. They started yelling things like “f***ing homo” and “cut you hair you f***ing Jew” (I have a lot of hair). This went on for a few seconds and my body responded by dumping a serious dose of adrenaline into my blood stream. Images of me getting out of my car and pounding faces began flashing through my mind.
Then, the advice I had recently read in The Little Black Book of Violence: What Every Young Man Needs To Know About Fighting began to replay in my thoughts. I took some deep breaths to relax my body. I kept an eye on my mirrors to make sure my new friends didn’t get out of their truck. I controlled the urge to return words in kind. The sheepish looking cashier gave me someone else’s food and apologized for the wait and I drove off resisting the impulse to wave goodbye to the hicks with my middle finger. I actually said a quick prayer for the guys. The most amazing thing is that I felt neither anger or humiliation as I drove away.
When I got The Little Black Book of Violence I was expecting a how-to of street fighting advice–what to do if you get in a scrape. I got much more than I expected. The main point of the book is that violence is bad and costly and should be avoided. One might expect that reading a book about violence and how to fight would increase one’s chances of getting into a fight but the exact opposite is true. The entire first half of the book is actually about avoiding violence.
The authors go through great pains to point out that violence in real life is much different than the movies. People die, are permanently maimed, and lawsuits ruin lives. The section on avoiding violence is a voice of wisdom for sobering the impulsive young man and a voice of warning for the clueless guy who doesn’t know how to watch his back. Instead of making the reader paranoid whenever he is in a public place, the authors actually instill a sense of confident watchfulness.
The rest of the book is dived into two sections entitled “When Violence Occurs” and “The Aftermath of Violence.” The when-violence-happens section is extremely practical and avoids advice that requires too much practice to be safe in giving to the average reader. The aftermath section further emphasizes the truly heavy consequences of violence, drilling home to the reader that a peaceful solution, no matter how humiliating, should always be taken if available.
To further drive home the need for a book like this let me share two more personal stories both of which occurred in my relatively peaceful city of Colorado Springs in good parts of town.
A few years ago two friends and I were driving to pick up a third friend from her apartment complex and go to church. As we were waiting in the parking lot I saw a young woman crying hysterically, trying to get into her van and drive away from a very sinister looking man. The man was silently following her in circles around her vehicle. He would jump into the passenger seat of the van whenever she tried to get into the driver’s. The situation seemed like a classic case of domestic dispute. I didn’t really want to but I forced myself to get out of the car to see if I could help the woman.
I forget the actual words spoken but I told the guy to stop. He stormed up to me cursing and threatening and telling me to keep out of it. I wanted to, believe me, but I felt that I couldn’t so I told him again. I was bracing for a fight this time as he tried to scare me away again–this guy was seriously pissed. Finally, I said “Dude, all I see is a girl crying and telling a guy to leave her alone and I can’t walk away from that.” Thankfully, this did the trick and the guy relaxed and said “Okay” as his girlfriend made her escape with screeching tires. He turned around and went back inside and I got into the car. The friend we were picking up arrived immediately afterward, oblivious to what had happened.
Later that same year, my wife (then girlfriend) and I were at a coffee shop that was open late at night. We were having a fun, flirty time when a man I thought was an employee started acting very aggressive toward us. He began saying things like “What are you looking at?” when no one was looking at him and “We don’t want people like you here.” and so on.
Again, the adrenaline was pumping and it was very hard not to get up and punch the guy, especially since this was happening in front of my girlfriend. Thankfully, I realized that he was probably mentally ill because of his irrationality and I also realized how much getting into a fight could hurt the other people around me as well as Mr. Crazy and I. We ended up leaving the coffee shop and, while I was angry, I knew it was the right thing to do.
Even if you could never imagine yourself getting into a fight you should give The Little Black Book of Violence a read. I wouldn’t recommend it for someone younger than sixteen or so because there are lots of grizzly photos and stories of real violence and it’s consequences. Whether you’re a strict pacifist and want to better avoid and dispel violence, or a young American movie watcher who thinks fights are cool and fun (i.e. an idiot), violence is a fact of life and it’s threat can loom over the most normal of daily activities. The Little Black Book of Violence brings a peaceful, responsible approach to violence.