This was yesterday’s post, but it got bumped by the whole “I am a celebrity and so everyone needs to know what I think about guns” post.
The title is a line from the end of “A Miracle On 34th Street” The main character, a little girl, is trying to convince herself to believe something. She is trying to believe that even though all evidence is to the contrary she should still believe in Santa. Of course, we all know that Santa exists and miracles do happen, but outside of the jolly guy with a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, we probably would be wise to look at the evidence as opposed to what we want to believe. Many times even when presented with overwhelming proof, many of us choose to still believe what we know not to be true.
After I wrote about the article my daughter showed me, I started to think about and discuss with my husband why it is that women are so willing to accept the suggestions made by the “expert”. Why do we read something and without even really thinking it through, believe it and pass it on? Why do we think that it makes sense that a bad guy would walk on by us if we had clothes that were not easily removable? I know I have read a million stories of women being attacked where this doesn’t hold true and yet, I know there was a time I completely believed that line.
When I look back on my anti gun days and the logic I used to explain my beliefs none of them hold water AND it doesn’t take a lot of critical thinking or facts to disprove them. Yet, I sincerely and truly believed that less guns meant less crime and I truly believed I was safe from the bad guy by just following a few simple guidelines. Guidelines that were found in that article. Why?
The reasons are many and complicated and are not the same for everyone, but to some extent I think for most it is simply because it is what we want to believe. Many of us are conditioned and many of us are naive, but there is more to it. I believe we accept these ineffective ways to keep us safe because they are what we want to be true. We want to believe that the world is basically a rosy place where bad things don’t happen to good people and when they do they are so rare, we need not worry about it. AND we want what is easy.
I think we want to believe there are ways to be safe without having to actually do or change much of anything.
I am as guilty as anyone. I spent the first 12 months ping ponging all over the place about carrying and I had the proof that bad things do happen to good people. Still I made excuses for not carrying(rarely) or trying to make my new lifestyle fit into the old one. There is no way for me to carry a big gun on this frame without wearing something a little bulky over the top. Showing off my hard work from the gym just wasn’t possible while wearing a gun, a knife, a flashlight and a spare magazine and it annoyed me. I spent a great deal of time being frustrated and pissed off at the bad guy and life. I hated how unfair it is that I had to make all these changes and sacrifices in order to protect myself. Oddly, I used those emotions to look for ways to justify not doing what I knew I needed to.
Believe it or not there are still days where I just want to get up, put on a cute summer dress and walk out the door. I want to skip around blissfully unaware of the evils that lurk. I never do. Unfortunately once you know something, you can’t un-know it.
The reality is that taking responsibility for one’s safety will require sacrifice and compromise. There are lots of new products and creative people working on making those sacrifices less and less, but in the end there is no easy out.
Anything one does to be more active in taking control of their life is great. Becoming more aware, avoiding people and places that are clearly dangerous, carrying mace or a knife are all great things and they absolutely contribute to lowering your odds of becoming a victim, but taking the path of least resistance is probably not the best course of action.
My friend Tim sent me an email on the day I wrote about M. In the email he included an excerpt from Paxton Quigley’s book. As you read this think about how not wearing hair in a ponytail or wearing hard to cut off clothes would have aided in this situation.
From “Armed and Female” by Paxton Quigley
Copyright 1989 by Paxton Quigley Productions
“All the time I was locked in the trunk, I could hear him yelling from the drivers’ seat about what he was going to do to me.”
Kate Petit’s car sputtered to a stop on the interstate highway between Lake Kissimmee and Tampa, where she lives alone in a nicely groomed but older condominium development on the established side of town.
“You know, I have never made that drive to the lake without worrying somewhere along the way about the risk of having a flat tire or breaking down and being stranded on the side of the road, alone.”
Kate was stranded all right. What look to her like a mixture of smoke and steam was pouring out the top, bottom and sides of the engine compartment. She knew it was safer to stay in the car with the windows and doors secured, but sitting in a burning car, to her thinking, was by far the most dangerous thing she could do, so she grabbed her purse and took up a position at the side of the road at a conservative distance from the car’s gas tank.
“I didn’t know what to expect next. You hear so many stranded-women-on-the-highway stories that I became short of breath and nervous as soon as the car took its final gasp and I pulled to a stop on the shoulder of the road. Just being stopped on the highway after going sixty miles an hour for the last half-hour is unnerving enough, but with the car burning and all those cars whizzing by shaking the ground, I just hoped-well, maybe prayed-that state highway patrol car would pull up and some yes-ma’am-type trooper would tell me not to worry and take me home.”
The car that stopped was not a highway-patrol car, and Kate tried to reason with herself that anyone stopping, short of an actual policeman, could be more a of a problem than her stalled car, but she knew she couldn’t stand there all day. So she greeted the well-dressed, middle aged good Samaritan with enthusiasm for his assistance, and grinned a big hello with an audible sigh of relief.
“I had to size up the situation in a hurry.” said Kate. “Here was this respectable-looking car on the highway and backed all the way up in front of me and my burning car. I didn’t have much choice except to ask him for help.”
Kate was right. She had no choice. After being polite and sympathetic, the man took a knife from the inside pocket of his suit coat and pressed it sharply into Kate’s ribs, telling her that if she didn’t cooperate he would push the knife into her heart.
“He slit a tear in my blouse and I felt the knife cut me. I was absolutely numb. All of a sudden there was no more traffic noise, or even a fear of being struck on the highway , or any concern for my car,” explained Kate. “I was this man’s prisoner.”
Kate was ordered into the trunk of the man’s car. She had no choice. She got in the trunk. The man drove with Kate in the trunk for what Kate guessed to be a half-hour. The last few minutes were on an unpaved road; then the car stopped and the engine was turned off. During the entire time, the man yelled back obscenities to Kate in the trunk. She wouldn’t respond when he demanded to know if she could hear him, so he yelled louder and got more obscene. When the car stopped, Kate recalls vividly the sound of the key in the trunk lock.
By the time she heard that sound, Kate had repositioned herself so that she was lying on her back, her feet tucked up under her, and her knees pushing hard up against the inside the back seat, and she hoped the overhang wouldn’t obstruct a clear view of him when he opened the trunk. She knew he would have his knife out- that was the only thing she was really sure of.
Kate doesn’t remember when the man stopped yelling at her in the trunk, and doesn’t remember what he said as he opened the trunk. All she remembers is the flood of daylight momentarily blinding her when the trunk lid popped open and an almost slow-motion sight of the bullet holes being made in the man’s chest by the 38-caliber revolver she took out of her purse.
She had planned to shoot every bullet in her gun at the man when the trunk opened, but after three shots he slumped into the trunk on top of her, dead.
“The nightmare was over, but when he fell on me, bleeding, I became so frightened I thought I was suffocating. I gashed my head on the lid as I got out of the trunk. It was so horrible having him lie on top of me, dead like that. When I got out of the trunk, I forced his legs in beside him and slammed the lid. I went over to a tree and threw up.
“You know, I have carried that gun for years in my purse when I drive alone or have to go into areas of town I think are unsafe. It’s funny, but all those years I never really thought about actually shooting someone, much less killing anyone. But I frequently recognized a feeling of being safe or being less vulnerable when I had my gun with me. And when this horrible thing happened, my only fear was about not having the opportunity to get to it. You’re not going to believe this, but when he put me in the trunk with my purse I was very relieved.” Kate firmly said.
The police investigation revealed that the dead man was a twice convicted felon who had previously been found guilty of eleven counts of sexual assault, including sodomy, child molestation, and rape. He had served prison sentences in another state at various times for a number of convictions. At the time he picked up Kate on the highway, he was out on parole for good prison behavior after having served only twenty-two months for raping a woman and her twelve year old daughter.