For last few weeks, carrots have been my snack of choice. Whenever I feel peckish, I munch on carrots until the feeling goes away. It’s not the result of a new year’s resolution, or of some late-onset healthy living urge. It’s because in “Caine’s Law” Caine, the main protagonist and my favourite anti-hero, eats half a carrot.

I read the book before Christmas and realised I’d not had carrots in about a million years. My Minion just happened to be going to the supermarket and asked me if I wanted anything. I asked for carrots. Once she’d satisfied herself that I wasn’t joking, she got me said carrots. I ate them. I liked them. When they ran out, I got some more. Turns out they make for good grazing. Now I’m not happy unless I’ve got some carrots in the fridge.

I realise that it all sounds a bit silly. I don’t really understand the connection between the story and my current carrot habit. I don’t think eating carrots is going to turn me into Caine. In all honesty, though, I don’t care: I’m eating vegetables of my own free will and actually enjoying them, and that’s all that matters to me. Yes, I ought to have been eating them anyway because they’re good for me. But I’ve known that all my life, and it’s never made me put carrots on the menu. It’s definitely not helped me enjoy them. Now I do. Huzzah for Caine, succeeding where my mother failed.

So what? I hear you wonder. Well, I’ve recently seen a rehash of one of the routine arguments in the self-defence world. Some people get into self-defence for the wrong reasons. I don’t mean those people who want to train so they can be bigger assholes, or commit crimes. There are people out there who want to learn about legitimate self-defence, but their motivations are all wrong. They should be willing to defend themselves because their lives matter. They should be willing to train because they are worth defending. They should know this, and should act upon it! But they don’t.

Those people find it easier to motivate themselves and to give themselves permission by dedicating their self-defence efforts to other people or causes; for instance, by thinking of their family. I will defend myself, because nobody is turning my children into orphans. I will train, because I may need to protect my loved ones. I will carry out sensible security assessments and act upon my findings, because I have a responsibility towards my family. I will walk away from fights, even if it means ignoring insults, because I’ve got people waiting for me at home.

Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s great when people do the right things for the right reasons (“right” meaning, obviously, whatever I believe is right). I think improving one’s mental processes and outlooks is fantastic, particularly if they’re limiting or damaging. Bring on the paradigm shifts! Sometimes, though, the priority is getting something done. And when that’s the case, castigating people for thoughtcrimes even though they are finally doing the right thing, the very thing we’ve been at them to do all along, doesn’t seem terribly helpful.

I’m heinously pragmatic, I guess, but if someone decides to learn first-aid, check their brakes, get a fire extinguisher, carry a tourniquet, or take any other reasonable precaution that increases their ability to deal with emergencies, I could not care less whether they do it for themselves or because they’ve got a brand new baby. I’m just glad that they’re doing it. If in time they realise that actually it’s a good idea to have the skills and tools to deal with these kinds of situation even when other people are not in the picture, that’s even better. But first and foremost I’m glad that they’re taking practical steps in the right direction.





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