I just heard some bad, sad, upsetting news. A friends' two sisters were held up and robbed at Gun point in South Africa. Thank God they are OK but the experience is horrible. I can only imagine.
There are people out there who do not give a damn about anyone but themselves. There are people out there who have not an ounce of respect for other human beings. There are predators out there who will do whatever they can to take away what is yours.
This is the world we live in.
Most of us go about our daily lives and do not give a single thought to crime, to violence, to racial and religious hatred. And if you dare bring it up you are a party pooper, a "downer". If you dare mention the dark side of human nature you are looked upon as being depressed, a pessimist. When I was in Paris I casually mentioned that Paris is a very dangerous place for Jews. I was greeted with expressions of shock, "Do not believe the media hype", I was told. Less than a week later a Jewish man was attacked, badly beaten and had a swastika carved into his chest.
Yes, I am simply being negative. No one likes to be around a negative person.
Crime is alive and well, hatred is alive and well. We must deal with it.
Of course the first step is awareness. Be aware of the problem and then take what precautions you can take. Learn what places are best avoided. Reduce your changes of being a victim.
When I fly it simply drives me crazy to see guys in flip flops and girls in high heels. What if there is an attack? What if there is a need to run? What will they do?
I know what they will do. They will die. And then everyone will mourn the tragedy. Everyone will spread the photos on Facebook, do "Likes" and "Share" the pain, but who will learn to behave differently? Who will decide to sign up for Krav Maga lessons?
I came all the way to Paris but not a single native French person signed up for my seminar. Everyone is too busy to see the writing on the wall.
I grew up with the Holocaust, the Shoah, the Great Tragedy. From my earliest years I have been aware that innocent people can and will be the victims of terrible crimes. I live the Holocaust. And the Survivors, they certainly live the Holocaust, every day of their lives. For many of us the war has never ended.
When I land in Austria the first thing that crosses my mind is...the birthplace of Hitler. When I land in Paris...Vel D'hiv. When I land in Ukraine..Babi Yar. (and please do not tell me you never heard of these things.)
And the Survivors, how do they go on? How do they carry on their lives?
There is so much to learn from them, there is so much to learn from the Jewish experience. That is what Krav Maga is all about. And if you want to learn Krav Maga without the historical aspects, please...keep moving.
How does a victim pick up the pieces and become a Survivor, and then a Witness.
Study our history, come to Israel, understand how we have gone from being "Victims, led like sheep to the slaughter", to "Survivors", and finally to "Witnesses".
We have witnessed the worst of mankind and we have continued; to build a democracy in a region dominated by hate and oppression, to build a state that is a glorious testament to our people. How?
It should have said, "State of Israel is Reborn"
A new attitude and a new altitude, a fighting spirit, pick up the pieces, and move on.
When I was in South Africa last year I heard an unusual story. One of our students, a very fine Jewish man, a highly respected professional, seems to get attacked each year, he and his lovely family.
Each year he has a story for me. But this one was unusual and insightful. A group of well armed criminals came into his office, they pointed rifles at him and demanded money. He made a quick calculation, he realized that despite his Krav Maga training there was nothing he could do in terms of a physical defense. He understood that the best thing he could do was to pay these bastards off. And so he did. He was unharmed.
He told me, "Coach, you saved my life".
I am still trying to digest this statement, I am still trying to fully understand it. But what I think is as follows.
By having options, by knowing that he was physically trained, he was able to rationally make a choice. It was his choice. It was not dictated to him by others. As such he was not a victim.
He lost some money. You know what? Everyday we lose money. My friend was ripped off my his accountant, most of us have been ripped off by the local mechanic, by the tax authorities, by all sorts of shady business offers, by lousy greedy Krav Maga associations selling us DVDs that are "guaranteed" to turn us into "Lean, mean, fighting machines."
Yes, everyday we lose money but we do not let it kill our spirits. It does not crush us. It does not destroy us.
We must keep training, we must never stop. We must learn about awareness and safety, in our homes, in a restaurant, in our places of work and on the street. And yes, at airports too!
And then, if God forbid, someone does get assaulted, at least we have options. If we decide to hand over our cellphone, at least it is our choice. We can walk away and feel OK with ourselves, we bought off the sick bastard with a cheap cell phone. You can have my cell phone but you can never have my spirit.
And then, and then you pick yourself off and carry on proudly. You build yourself up, you make yourself better and stronger every day. You pick up the pieces and you move forward.
Hold your head up high and be proud. You are the decent one. Move forward. You become the change you want in society.
We live with the pain every day. Others do not see this. A word, a sign, and the thoughts come back. We are aware of the true nature of man-un-kind. As the rabbis say, "Respect him but suspect him". Always keep your eyes open, always watch your back. Evil walks beside us.
"Change it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fall that's all
But the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
"I'll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
For I know that the hypnotized never lie"
"We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet"
Get off your knees, and get to your Krav Maga class, Do it now!
Come to Israel, immerse yourself in Krav Maga training, Jewish history, Israeli attitudes.
Change your life!
For more information:
"Israel; a Nation of Warriors" 250 pages,
What makes Israel Unique? Analysis of the Reserve system, history of a warrior nation
$9.99 on Kindle