The mythology of the “bad guy”

I don’t buy in to the “they are not you” mythology. We are all the same humans in the same cultural space. We have morals and subcultural inputs that separate our actions, but no one person has super powers of good or evil that others don’t.

Everything is a choice, and choices are arrived at and carried out by human thinking with human physical capabilities, which we all have at our access. A person is not “kind”, they choose to be kind. One is not simply “violent”, he chooses to be violent.

This idea of making believe that some people are somehow different than us, or others, is misguided in my opinion. Wolves, crazies, monsters, etc. I have fought with these “monsters”. I have also played cards with them, and shared coffee and meals with them. 

Everything is a choice, and we all at least start on a level playing field. To view the “bad guy” as some heinous, powerful predator experienced in devouring the lives of the innocent puts him above you in your mental imagery, which plays a very important role in your decision making process.

To see yourself as not on a level playing field is a victim mentality that sensationalizes the violent into a stronger creature, and that is the exact mythology that they want you to create in your mind. Trust me, I’ve had this conversation with them more than once. 

I encourage everyone to see themselves on a level playing field. It is how I think, and I encourage others to do so as well.

I do believe if we do not see ourselves as being on a level playing field with the violent criminal, then you are creating positions of physical and mental superiority and inferiority, with you at the bottom in terms of violent capabilities and intentions. That line of thinking will lead you to begin the fight at a psychological deficit.

It is better to begin that comparison on equality, and then set ourselves apart with morals, the rule of law, and most importantly, preparation and training for the fight.

We are all human beings. We all have the same capabilities, tools, resources and thought processes available to us. We all have problems, needs, desires and fears. We all battle with uncertainty at some point.

They are not “different” than you except in one minor detail: when and upon whom they make the decision to victimize or become violent towards. That is not a major differentiating factor and it certainly does not create a separate species.

To ignore this point is to ignore sage wisdom that has been passed down in the warrior philosophies for thousands of years. Everyone from Sun Tzu to Miyamoto Musashi wrote something along the lines of “to know your enemy, is to know your yourself”. There is a giant keg of wisdom and fighting knowledge wrapped up inside of that concept. 

When you discover the things about yourself that drive your decision making: your uncertainties, your fears, your sources of confidence, courage, inspiration and the things you are attached to that drive your will to fight, then you have discovered something very revealing about your enemy.

And when you have learned to control or manipulate those critical elements within yourself, you also have learned to control or manipulate them within your enemy’s mind as well. You should think deeply on this.

Yes, there are psychopaths and sociopaths and people with a myriad of other forms of mental illness and yes, those people are “different”. But they are not different because they are some creature with superior strength or violence, an evil predator. 

No, they are different because they are mentally ill and that needs to be dealt with accordingly. It does not make them “different” in a predator sense, it just means their conclusions are increasingly different than yours, but it is still basic decision making from the same set of decisions that you have. 

If they choose to act on it, they are going to employ weapons or means that are just as accessible to you as they are to them. I say this having personally observed and dealt with many mentally ill people in prison day-in-and-day-out for years, some of whom were quite dangerous.

The other inherent problem built directly into that message is that it cultivates the inability to detect concealed danger. You are looking for someone who is clearly not “you,” someone “different”, and you will fail to see the threat that emerges from someone who looks and acts just like you do. More often than not, the very dangerous are adept at concealing and blending into their environment. 

Creating these subjective differentiations in people who do not have the requisite exposure to violent criminals sets them up for failure when they run across one who talks and acts and dresses just like they do. And trust me, there’s a lot of them out there. 

The point here is to avoid creating these roles in your mind that attribute special powers to the criminally violent. You can choose to be just as deadly, just as violent, just as charismatic and just as deceptive as they choose to be. None of these traits are descriptors of people, they are choices that people make, and every one of them should be used in your favor as much as they are used against you. 

If you practice concealment, there is an element of deception that comes with that. Because you are a “good guy” you know you won’t use this for bad against innocent people. But you want to blend in with everyone else and go about your life with the tools, intentions and capabilities you hold hidden from the eyes of everyone, especially the potential enemy. 

Evil is not defeated with simply a “good guy with a gun”. It is defeated by a good guy with a gun who has the tools, intentions and capabilities to do what is necessary.

Just like the bad predator, you want to remain undetected and position yourself to deliver the highest amount of damage with the least amount of risk to yourself. To do this, you use all of the tools, techniques and strategies available to you. The same ones he will use against you. You want the odds in your favor in every way. The same way he does. Now you both know this.

Now he has to think about you showing up to defeat him as much as you have to think about him showing up to attack innocent people. And if you do your job well, and you didn’t get caught off guard, the first realization he has of you being there will be him seeing a muzzle, and for him that will be too late.

Order Violence of Mind here:

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  1. I’ve made a career of dealing with people who are indeed different. Some of them are bad guys. We are not the same. I read your piece twice to make sure I could see your point. I think you disagree with yourself.

    • You are welcome to think whatever you want to think, based on whatever you want it to be based on. Thanks for reading. Have a nice day.

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  3. While I respect your opinions and your research, I must disagree. I spent 30+ years as a police officer in a couple of large metropolitan west coast areas. Several of those years were spent as a major crime detective. In a general sense I agree that we are all the products of our lifetime of decision making. However I have personally interacted with people who are truly evil and need to be removed from society.

    Specifically in dealing with child sex abuse, some, if not most predators derive pleasure and sexual gratification by abusing children, both physical abuse and sexual. In my somewhat extensive training and experience, I know that pedophiles enjoy inflicting pain and when confronted about their behavior, neither know or show any degree of remorse. They attend the court mandated sex offender therapy, learn how to “correctly” respond to therapists and upon release, return to their behavior.

    Many forensic researchers teach that most people are unable to control what “turns them on.” They can’t help or correct their urges and what arouses them sexually. Some well known serial killers are known to derive sexual satisfaction by plunging a knife into a woman’s breast, slashing their throats, or by strangling their life from their victims, while making intense eye contact. Evil truly does exist. To deny that is folly.

    • “Evil” is defined as “profoundly immoral and wicked” with or without a supernatural force connotation. To say that someone is “evil” is merely a descriptor of their behaviors.

      We can argue all day back and forth about mental illness, chemical imbalances and the like, but in the end even the mentally ill and chemically imbalanced are making choices to hurt people.

      Just because they are choice that you can not fathom making does not mean that they are outside of the capabilities of average humans.

      Stories abound from events like Nazi Germany, or a great example, the Bosnian conflict, where farmers became mass murderers and average city folk became rapists and killers. To deny that transformation is folly.

      I think you want to disagree with me because I am not putting enough separation between “bad guys” and good guys. It’s a cognitive bias, especially understandable given your job for decades.

      But the truth is that many many many “bad” people are undetectable on the surface because they are capable of thinking and acting like you do.

      If you truly did that job for those many years, how many did you arrest that lived shockingly normal lives and were liked or thought harmless by neighbors?

      We hear that story all the time about rapists and shooters. Yes there are people who stand out, due to mental instability, drug use or a multitude of other reasons. You know how to spot them.

      I’m concerned with preparing people to see the ones who appear and behave like average people on the surface, but are making choices to hurt people in cruel and violent ways.

      For this you have to stop with the nonsense of looking for people who are “not like you”. Because you just won’t fucking see them.

      To disregard my perspective, which is one of DIRECT experience and participation, is your choice. But it’s not something I dreamed up in a classroom somewhere. This is me talking through what I’ve lived. Agree or disagree, it won’t affect how I share my truth.

      Thanks for your input. Maybe we bridged some of that gap.

  4. In my opinion, you have elucidated very well an essential truth about our human existence and experience. Those who understand that truth and act accordingly are survivors in any tough situation, if survival is possible within the circumstances.

    The truth you have presented, along with a mindset of “Never give up.” is in my opinion the core of what separates a survivor from a victim.

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