The End of the World as We Know It…and We’re Not Fine

Jun 6, 2023

“I ain't complaining
Just matter of fact
And a little suspicious
That the deck is stacked”
— Zero
End of the World Blues

I think my favorite memory of before the world ended is Christmas, 2019…good food, good friends, good fun, a sense of optimism and a faith in a better future. On December 31 of that year, a small unnoticed news report talked about an outbreak of a new pneumonia in Wuhan, China.

Talk about a slippery slope! Within a year, so many things we’d taken for granted growing up in the United States, rights that we thought were “inalienable,” were…inoperative. Unconstitutional mandates, illegal lockdowns…and the dominoes just kept falling. The cities burned, laws were ignored, people and businesses were “cancelled” or destroyed, violence soared to unprecedented levels, and every day brought a new indignity.

There used to be a meme in the prepper community to the effect of “How will we know when the SHTF?” How will we know when we are truly in the soup? The best answer I ever heard was from a man I met at Auschwitz in Poland, a man who had survived the hellish nightmare of the Balkan genocide. Couldn’t you tell, I asked him?

“Hindsight,” he said. “You can only tell in hindsight.”

We tend to think of violence — aggression against a person or persons — as an event when, in fact, it is a process, a series of actions moving along a timeline to achieve a specific goal. That goal might be taking your money, taking your car, or for that matter, taking your life.

Violence is an inherently chaotic process — that is, so many known and unknown factors are acting on the process that it’s impossible to predict the outcome. Because the violence is happening along a timeline, the factors acting on the process are constantly changing, adding even more to the unpredictability.

Violence is also cultural…the risks a person might face and the appropriate response from the person differs depending on where they live. Denver is different from Mexico City which is different from London which is different from Johannesburg. Makes sense, right?

Here’s where things get tricky…scary tricky, if you ask me.

Both as students and trainers of self-defense, we have to make certain assumptions, and those assumptions are culturally based. But the culture that we base those assumptions on no longer exists, poof, gone, shredded by COVID, “mostly peaceful” riots and a vicious progressive agenda that has driven much of what we thought of as American exceptionalism off the cliff.

In other words, the end of the world has already happened, the Schumer has already hit the fan, and the Denver, or any American city for that matter, of now is not the same as the Denver of the Good Old Days before the world ended, say Christmas 2019.

How has the culture changed in ways that might affect the self-defense “landscape?” Oh, let’s count the ways:

• An almost stunning racial animus. And I say that as someone who grew up in the South during the Jim Crow years, whose grandmother’s — rest her soul! — favorite story was, “When Michael went in the ‘Colored’ door” at the local burger hangout. Racial violence is off the charts, even with the mainstream media knocking itself out to hide it.

• Politically sanctioned violence, such as the Antifa and BLM “mostly peaceful” riots. This creates “protected” groups of people who can initiate aggression toward you, but if you respond even in a way that is, in fact, legal, you may be the one going directly to jail.

• The demise of equal protection under the law. In our “new normal,” some animals are indeed more equal than others. I’m betting you’re not one of those animals. If you don’t believe this, try and get in touch with some of the J6 defendants…no wait…do that and you’ll have the FBI at your door.

• The defunding, demonetization and demoralizing of the police. The police aren’t there, but if they are there, they’re not coming. If they are coming, they’re coming late…response times are drastically slowed. And if they do come, it might not be the aggressor who gets arrested.

• The so-called “Soros prosecutors,” prosecuting attorneys funded by George Soros specifically elected to “fundamentally change” the American justice system…and not in a good way. The concept of bail is eliminated; what were once felonies are no longer prosecuted. Misdemeanors? Just good fun…the revolving door is firmly in place, but not for you.

• The on-going collapse of major cities, especially the Blue cities (but I repeat myself). Chicago, Memphis (where I was born and grew up), Baltimore, St. Louis, Milwaukee and others are literally ripping themselves apart. The tax base has moved out, the big businesses are gone and violent scavengers are picking over the bones. Sound like places where you want to raise your families? Oh, and watch out for that pile of brown stuff on the sidewalks.

Those are what I think of as the “macro” changes, but they have spun off a series of deadly consequences. Just briefly…

…a shift toward multiple aggressors, gang/flash mob, join-in type attacks.

…a shift toward anonymous/random violence.

…because of the lack of legal consequences, more crimes are committed in daylight than ever before.

…the decriminalization of “shop-lifting” has lead to a proliferation of “smash and grabs,” systemized looting of stores, etc.

…absence of consequences means a willingness among criminals to escalate, for example a rise in violent “follow-home” robberies, which my dear friend, the late Dr. William Aprill, defined as a “murder waiting to happen” and violent carjackings.

…violence as entertainment.

The last point needs some explanation because it is so deeply tied into the cultural disaster we find ourselves in. “It’s a slow evening…what say we all go put on matching neon green bodysuits and beat the crap out of some old people on the subway?” That attack happened in New York late last year, by the way.

Violence is entertaining…ask any 14-year-old boy who punched his brother. The net-net for us in the self-defense community is that if violence is entertainment and the consequences of that violence are low or non-existent, the threshold to violence is lowered. And the nature of the aggressor changes. It may not be a career criminal who puts the gun to your head and ‘jacks your car in the middle of the day; might just be a couple of bored teens looking for a cool ride. Do you think they might be less, or more, likely to shoot you?

Or the implications of multiple attackers…those multiple attackers may not be the Neon Green Bodysuit Gang. The additional attackers may be join-ins or hangers-on who didn’t realize what was happening until the game was afoot, then decided participation looked like fun. You may have thought you had the existing situation well in hand, but three or four additional attackers will be, I guarantee you, a game-changer.

Are you seeing these changes being discussed in self-defense training? I’m not, and that worries me a lot. Why? I’m going to go back to Dr. William Aprill for the answer. William was one of the most astute, thoughtful and knowledgeable persons on self-defense and training that I’ve ever been honored to work with, and his untimely death was and is a staggering loss to the community.

For self-defense training to be effective, William said, first a person has to make space in his or her head for what can potentially happen — not just that it can happen to you, but this can happen to you! Or, as legendary trainer Tony Bauer puts it, “You can’t create a solution if you don’t see the problem.”

Students, even trainers, need to openly discuss these cultural changes and what they mean for our everyday defense. If you are an armed citizen and the first time you think about stuff like this is when you’re in the middle of something that looks like a major riot mated with a Mardi Gras parade — and you appear to be the Designated Piñata — the likelihood of what “Tactical Professor” Claude Werner calls a “negative outcome” becomes a virtual certainty.

Thankfully, there are some top trainers who realize the world has shifted. Ed Monk at Last Resort Firearms Training, John Murphy at FPF Training and Greg Ellifritz at Active Response Training (among others) are on the cutting edge, but it is up to you to make sure the training you are getting is reflective of today, not the days before the world ended.

Sure, I miss the hell out of the world that once was and what we allowed to slip through our fingers, and I’m sure the Founders are rolling in their graves. But I grew up in a poker-playing family, and one of the earliest life lessons I learned was you can only play the hand you’re dealt.

No one is coming! Stay safe out there!

~ Michael Bane