A few weeks ago, I was jumped in Baltimore.
I had a few beers earlier, but was already close enough to sober to recognize that I had been followed for a few blocks.
I was also sober enough to recognize that getting into random street fights with civilian children is not something I should be actively seeking out.
Now, this line of thought is, in my opinion, completely valid.
While I couldn't tell you what race they were, they way they moved and their build suggested they couldn't be old than 18. Most of the self-defense I know is based around re-directing force and trapping limbs. On hard pavement, executed by anything other than an expert, what I know and have practiced can kill even without my meaning too.
I was about a block (or so, maybe 200 meters at most) from the Ottobar, an establishment where I know most of the security staff and they know me. I was able to sprint about 10 meters before they caught up with me and proceeded to prove that were excellent at harming unarmed people who had no intention of doing them harm.
It is also of note that had it not been for another citizen of Baltimore running them off and scraping me off the pavement, I could very well be dead. Or equally bad: one or both of them could be.
My frustration and anger at the event is astonishingly high.
It starts with my decision to attempt an escape, which I think is not only valid and humane, but understands my place in the social landscape. I am not just a guy in the social context. I am An Iraq Veteran (TM).
This is important, because my actions will reflect upon every Iraq War Veteran (TM) regardless of who they are or where they are from. Many thoughts of headlines ran through my head as I walked.
The only way this business wouldn't result in another "Crazy Veteran" headline was if I escaped.
Slowly but surely, I am healing with a lot of emotional support from my fiancee and friend, and some financial support from a GoFundMe that a friend of mine basically bullied me into starting otherwise he would pay any and all medical bills himself out of his life savings.
It's strange to think about the missing pieces. One moment I was sprinting, the next I was on the ground with my fellow citizen helping me. Other citizens have not responded so well.
Broadly speaking, people have very, very weird ideas about violence.
I understand violence in one capacity, sadly, because it often took the form of communication between me and the adults in my life when I was a child. This is not acceptable behavior. I know that. However, there are other contexts where violence is completely acceptable and maybe even the right thing to do.
That said, even if it is the right thing to do, a lot people get this idea that if you just "know what you are doing," everything will be fine.
This assumes that you are in amazing shape. I am no slouch, but the stamina required to do battle with another human being hand-to-hand for more than five minutes at a stretch is beyond me and 90% of the population. Second, a lot of the super-cool Mixed Martial Arts style fighting you see today on the TV, if executed properly outside of the Octagon or a fictional world, will permanently cripple or kill.
That limit on average or above average stamina, coupled with the potential to straight up die is why people who run around assaulting random people travel in at least a group of two. It is also why the military discourages its members from ever acting alone is most capacities; after I would have been exhausted actively battling one, the other stabs me or shoots me or whatever.
That was among the many thoughts that swirled in my head just before everything went south.
Thankfully, neither of them was armed, but the did put a nasty hurt on me that required stitches on the inside of my face and a debriding of a superficial wound on my hip in addition to a broken collar bone.
After all was said and done, of course, people thought I should start carrying a gun. Because apparently, with firearm and a time machine, I could go back in time and prevent myself from being mugged. Which is obviously a bad idea because it would cause a paradox.
But the anger is very much there, like it or not. Part of me wishes for some sort of comeuppance for them, but to be perfectly honest, wishing for that is a fool's errand.
I have sincere concerns, however, about the next person who dares attempt to even look at me funny next time.