Knowledge As a Defensive Fortification

As you probably read in my posts, I consider weapons useful in improving personal safety. But training and carrying weapons doesn’t guarantee safety — a handgun isn’t armor. Due to the expense and the inconvenience, few of us wear body armor. Similarly, most of us do not harden our homes for improved resistance to small arms fire or arson.

What’s better than winning a gunfight against a mugger? Not getting mugged in the first place. The best chance to avoid such a calamity is to avoid bad neighborhoods (with high incidence of violent crime), to avoid high-risk jobs (such as working night shift at a convenience store) and other exposure to violent criminal actors. In short, having a good, well-paying job improves safety by reducing your overlap with criminals. A pediatrician simply doesn’t run into gangbangers on a regular basis. A taxi driver or a store clerk does.

What allows a person to get a better job, besides good personality and diligence? Skills. Knowing a second language can be enough to get a good job. Taking more than basic math and science courses also helps. Mastering enough different software to be able to learn more by analogy helps a lot. While making direct comparisons is difficult, it’s quite possible that learning two additional languages would provide extra earning potential equivalent in its safety effect to carrying a gun. Taking that calculus class and chasing it with AP physics might add up to more protection than a level IIA bullet proof vest.

The brain is the most potent weapon we have. A smart person wins against violent thugs by avoiding interaction. A smart person who is also diligent and works hard at self-improvement is better able to live on a different plane from a typical criminal, most of whom don’t play well with others and have little to offer the society in terms of useful skills.

Learning is also the best hedge against looters of the government kind. We might not be able to take real estate or furniture with us when moving or running away from an inhospitable environment, but we can take the skills and the knowledge along. In the grand scheme of things, conventional weapons are for emergencies — cases like the Soviet Union or North Korea where peaceable escape was impossible. In more moderate countries, guns are an adjunct to learning. Knowledge and the ability to apply it for the benefit of others is what makes us safe on a daily basis. The resources obtained by such knowledge and the security provided by those resources are the real reason why being well to do is valued — it has less to do with the mythical greed and more with keeping self and family safe and secure.

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10 Responses to Knowledge As a Defensive Fortification

  1. Glenn Bellamy says:

    Excellent insight.

  2. Henry says:

    It Is Written:”Your mind is your primary weapon.”

  3. staghounds says:

    To “avoid bad neighborhoods” and “avoid high-risk jobs”, I’d add “avoid being around dangerous people”. Wife beaters, dope fiends, thieves, and plain old makers of bad decisions are far more often people who lack education, skills, training, and discipline throughout their lives.

    Stupid and ignorant people are trouble creators and trouble magnets.

  4. Pingback: Quote of the Day - Oleg Volk (11/8/2012) - The Minuteman

  5. Rivrdog says:

    Yesss! Be prepared, self-educate continuously, practice needed skills to stay sharp, and use risk assessment/reduction. When you adopt that philosophy, your are and will be the master of your fate.

  6. LarryArnold says:

    Excellent points overall, with the caveat that you still need to be selective. Felony prosecutor is a “well-paying job,” as is criminal defense attorney. Learning some languages can get you assigned to projects on the wrong side of town. And a high-paying position on the best side of town in the financial industry can leave you with a high profile among “looters of the government kind.”

    But at least with the assets Oleg is talking about, there’s a choice.

    My wife and I once had to choose between higher-paying jobs in an area where the realtors were bragging about burglar bars and state-of-the-art alarm systems, and pretty good jobs where everyone was griping about the deer eating their rosebushes.

  7. I think this is quite rational.

  8. Mark Smith says:

    Well said. Last paragraph kind of came out of left field, but true enough. I can’t imagine the US becoming a hostile environment like the former USSR or DPRK any time soon. Becoming a nanny state like the UK is all too real a fate though I fear.

  9. itor says:

    YES. Must acquire high level of education – like bushes, obama, clinton, nixon et al to avoid dangerous & stupid people.

  10. Stan says:

    “Knowledge is power, guard it well”

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