Have you ever been involved in a real fight? When the word fight first came up as a subject for this episode, I wasn’t sure how to talk about it. The Averagist’s approach is to explore how the words we look at translate into values for real Middle Americans. But finding reliable information on this subject is difficult. After all, if you’ve ever been in a fight and won, you probably don’t want to admit it and be charged with assault. On the other hand, if you fought and lost, you most likely don’t want people to know you got beat up. Even with this roadblock in my way, I decided to dig a little deeper, and found some interesting numbers.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of 9th through 12th graders who reported that they’d been in a physical fight has dropped from 42% in 1993 to just 25% in 2015. Interestingly, the percentage of adults and high school kids caught fighting is almost the same. The FBI tries to keep track of these things and they said that of the, 764,449 aggravated assaults that occurred in in 2015, 26.3% involved nothing more than fists, feet, or some other body part. What those “other body parts” were, you can use your own imagination, but in total, that means 201,050 adults were arrested for fighting 2015.
Where did these brawls occur? Well, more than half took place in the southern part of the United States, where 326,825 people were arrested for fighting in 2015. Regionally, the South is followed by the Midwest, the West, with the relatively peaceful Northeast bringing up the rear. And finally, if you’re wondering where you are most likely to be when someone is punching you in the face, you have a 20% greater chance of being assaulted in Washington DC than any other state or territory in the United States.
But these numbers, like all statistics are impersonal and don’t really tell the story of why people choose to fight, or for that matter, why they choose to flee when presented with a dangerous situation. So, as an Averagist way of answering this question, I turned to two people who have faced fight or flight situations, a soldier and a cop, and asked them not only about the word, but why, when, and against whom they choose to fight.
Listen to what they have to say. You might be surprised.
So what did I learn? In every episode of the American Averagist, I have had both surprises and reassurances. First, it did not come as a surprise to hear that these two individuals have a clear understanding of what they are willing to fight for. Family comes first, as I believe it would for most people, and protecting their families will most likely trip even these fighter’s flee response if it means getting their loved ones out of harm’s way. But, unlike most people, once their families are safe, fighters go back to help other people. That response isn’t about bloodlust. It’s instinct that’s been brought to the surface by training. After a period of time, a soldier or cop’s willingness to fight is as natural as a surgeon’s willingness to cut into the human body. It’s unemotional, precise, deliberate, and well-thought out.
I was once again amazed at how dedicated soldiers and cops are to protecting the rights of some people who, frankly, are openly hostile to people in uniform, as well as those who can’t protect themselves. It speaks volumes about their character both as professionals and as human beings. It also highlights a central fact about American freedom that is left out of many discussions about our country; our military and law enforcement ranks are filled with people who understand that they protect our freedom, and the Constitution provides for it. It may seem like an exercise in double-speak and semantics, but it’s a critical piece of our republic, and these pros nailed it.
Soldiers and cops who have chosen to pursue careers that require them to fight, have crossed a psychological threshold that most of us will never even think about. They know they are skilled in what they do, but more importantly, they are able to think through situations where most people would either panic or literally curl up on the ground and wait to die. They choose to fight. They run to the sound of the guns while the rest of us listen to a peace that’s more fragile than any of us want to admit. Soldiers and Cops are some of the best Averagist Americans I can ever hope to find.