Mig

Should I stay or should I go

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Recently, I was in echo park lake in echo park, not far from downtown Los Angeles. Having a conversation with an old friend and all of the sudden a young fellow comes to us to ask us for his wallet with $700 dollars. Immediately we stood up to let him check if his wallet was there. Then he left. Soon after he returns and started harassing us claiming we had his wallet and he wanted his money back telling my friend who is a young fellow that he was lying to him then he tried with the older fellow and started getting close as he wanted us to react and see if he could get what he wanted either money or steal something, who knows. In the meantime I am trying to keep my friend calm as he's getting scared so I called 911. It took me three attempts to call the police and we waited for 45' and nobody came by. This park is about 3 miles away from the 911 call center Los Angeles downtown. Then I called back since I was not thinking this was going to end well and put the 911 dispatcher on speaker phone who told us "walk away" once the stalker heard that he stepped away  and we could walk away and started walking behind me as I was protecting my young fellow friend. As soon as I turned my back and faced him he wanted to start a fist fight. I kept walking away and fortunately the park ranger were there and the instigator kept repeating the same thing trying to rest his case that we have stolen his wallet. The rangers called their supervisor who took him another 15 minutes. My wife came by to see if the police was there because she called them right away but no one showed up. Rangers didn't do anything and all they told us is that we could walk away after we had shown him our belongings. In the meantime the stalker just left like nothing had happened. Then I received a call from a police officer telling they were coming to the premises. It took them 15 minutes to get there and all I've got there was no nothing I could do. Clearly the stalker had in his mind to get something, money by harassing or intimidating and the less I will talk to him the more he felt entitled to keep harassing my friend as he found an easy prey and he couldn't do anything because I was there. Then he started getting closer and yelling and I had to yell back to keep off and keep my distance. Now, my question is what would you do for those who believe in love and peace, or any Buddhist or Daoist advice to deal this kind of situation? The lesson I learned, is that you are on your own, the police wouldn't do anything, we could have been killed and the guy would have left unharmed and free. I know I am venting but I am pissed how some people can get away so easily just to do what they want preying for those victims. Worst was to hear the police officers telling me it sounds he was a deranged individual or homeless and then I've got even madder because not only it took them forever to show but let this guy walk away and let him keep doing the same thing for sure.

 

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This is a good topic to discuss and share. It's a worthwhile skill to gently defuse threatening situations. It usually takes a lot of calmness and clarity to figure out what's the most appropriate course of action for everyone concerned.

 

Realistically speaking, it's useless to expect the law enforcement to show up in a timely manner unless you declare that there have been threats of violence or you have seen weapons in the public.

 

My first though after considering your given account of the situation was that you basically seemed to freeze up and passively let the upset guy's inquisitive anger to corner you. As a consequence, you couldn't connect with him as a person and make basic friendly gestures like: "Slow down! Please sit down and tell us what happened to you and your wallet." The fight-freeze-or-flight mechanism is very strong in people who deal with chronic stress and it many times prevents the access to more polite and diplomatic actions. This is one of the main reasons why people should continuously seek their spiritual center and stability: It gives reassurance and confidence to handle even sudden events that would otherwise leave them baffled as for what would had been the gentle way out without harming or further aggravating anyone.

 

I would recommend to get familiar with the concept "non-violent communication" and how it is used to defuse difficult situations.

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Attacks without any provocation are rife in Los Angeles in recent years,  particularly in a few areas near downtown.

There is a prodigious explosion of homelessness that has given rise to systemic attacks on locals some areas and so far, the police's hands are seemingly tied by bureaucracy or indifference, it's been hard to tell... it's been allowed to get so extreme.

 

Venice Beach is particularly violent in the last six months, as well as any area within a few mile radius of Down Town, Echo Park, Silver Lake... I won't visit there for the last year and a half or so.

 

I work in the film industry and our security on any locations in those areas is vamped up to maximum in the last two years and still there are regular altercations.  I only go into those areas when I have work and even then, there are times I turn work down rather than go there.

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, silent thunder said:

the police's hands are seemingly tied by bureaucracy or indifference

 

Solving the homelessness issue requires time, money, and social responsibility from everyone. Even the local tax-payers should be active somehow because at the root homelessness is a social problem.

 

Also, there is the constant threat if you get involved in an official capacity and you bungle up the situation by not being sensitive enough, which can be very difficult in the increasingly PC culture and with baiting happening in the social media, then you become a public scapegoat for abusing authority and being an overall horrible person. I am not surprised that the police would be uninterested in taking on the responsibility. It's a systemic problem that should be tackled from both top down and bottom up instead of leaving middlemen like law enforcement to sort out the differences.

Edited by virtue

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Adhering to the notion of ahimsa (non-violence) does not mean one must abstain from applying physical force to de-escalate a situation. In today's world, I think its okay if the need arises to drop a guy or two when the situation turns dire, yet without the prospect of post-act leaving seeds of violence, anger etc on the mindstream. This is why a fundamental point in Buddhism stresses awareness of intent more than action, in fact. With this, its believed karma begins to roll at the level of intent and not from the commonly held idea that it starts with action.

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15 minutes ago, C T said:

Adhering to the notion of ahimsa (non-violence) does not mean one must abstain from applying physical force to de-escalate a situation.

 

Exactly. The problem is when the physical force is applied unskillfully and without mental equanimity. It can lead to much distress when law enforcement decides that you have made the greater error than the person who initiated the quarrel. It's usually much more safer and easier to talk and try to connect, and if not successful, then run away rather than confronting directly and trying to subdue the hostile person.

 

Whatever the circumstances, it's always good to be have calmness and enough preparation to handle tense situations. Then you have options and are likelier to avoid trouble.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, virtue said:

 

Exactly. The problem is when the physical force is applied unskillfully and without mental equanimity. It can lead to much distress when law enforcement decides that you have made the greater error than the person who initiated the quarrel. It's usually much more safer and easier to talk and try to connect, and if not successful, then run away rather than confronting directly and trying to subdue the hostile person.

 

Whatever the circumstances, it's always good to be have calmness and enough preparation to handle tense situations. Then you have options and are likelier to avoid trouble.

 

In my experience in both Europe and Asia, those that make an ass of themselves in public are usually either inebriated or drugged. As a result, trying to connect with such altered states wasn't/seldom is a workable option.

 

Recalling a nasty incident that happened to a pal in Ireland a few years ago: He finished late shift at a hotel and was walking thru the city back to his apartment. This was about 11.30 pm. Two guys passed him, and asked him for smokes (cigarettes). "Sorry I dont smoke" he said, and kept on walking. One of them went at him from behind, and stabbed him in the back. Just like that. No rhyme nor reason to it.

Edited by C T
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Posted (edited)
On 8/24/2021 at 7:19 AM, C T said:

 

As a result, trying to connect with such altered states wasn't/seldom is a workable option.

 

Yup, leave, leave early, don't connect or explain, walk away, fast.  Develop and listen to your gut.  It tells you cross the street or leave the establishment, do it.  Don't be afraid, but always be cautious.  <<if you are afraid, realize that's good.  It should be feeding you some adrenaline, sharpening your senses and letting you take a hit, evolution baby>>

 

One of the most important martial art lessons I received was recognizing an attack.  And that wasn't when they threw the punch.  Their stance, their eyes, spacing etc.  Most often, an attack begins before a punch is thrown.  Get the hell away, if you can.   Move forward, Listen back.  

 

Course there is no guarantee of safety.  Its a dangerous world, but we muddle through it, day by day, year by year.  Not a bad idea to read police blotters to see what shit is happening and figure out the whys.  Don't be an easy target, that includes location, dress, stance and walk. 

 

Not sure exactly what I'd do in the OP's situation, but hope it'd be something like 'We didn't take your wallet, excuse us' and walk away quickly, heading somewhere busy and well lit.  Listening intently behind, and if steps get close, move faster or turn and face the threat.

Edited by thelerner
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10 hours ago, Mig said:

Now, my question is what would you do for those who believe in love and peace, or any Buddhist or Daoist advice to deal this kind of situation?

 

 

In the old days, Taoists mostly didn't live in monasteries as Buddhists.  They either lived as normal people or often traveled to visit sacred places.  Needless to say it would not be safer than now.  And they had all kinds of travel problems plus tigers, wolves, bandits, evil spirits to worry about.  It was why most of them learned some martial arts and medicine skills.  In general they would show humility and move away like facing a wild animal.   I think nowadays they just call the police.

 

By the way why downtown is not safer when there are more people around?

 

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7 hours ago, virtue said:

 

Exactly. The problem is when the physical force is applied unskillfully and without mental equanimity. It can lead to much distress when law enforcement decides that you have made the greater error than the person who initiated the quarrel. It's usually much more safer and easier to talk and try to connect, and if not successful, then run away rather than confronting directly and trying to subdue the hostile person.

 

Whatever the circumstances, it's always good to be have calmness and enough preparation to handle tense situations. Then you have options and are likelier to avoid trouble.

Easy said than done, the more I think now the more I can see that he was ready to attack, just wanted to see test the waters to see if we were strong enough. Unluckily my young friend he looks fragile and easy white kid target to bully. We walked away and he kept trying to see if he could fight us or robbed us, who knows. Luckily unluckily the rangers were there. It amazes me how people feel entitled to attack someone and then if they lose they become the victim and if you defend yourself you become the assailant.

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46 minutes ago, Master Logray said:

 

In the old days, Taoists mostly didn't live in monasteries as Buddhists.  They either lived as normal people or often traveled to visit sacred places.  Needless to say it would not be safer than now.  And they had all kinds of travel problems plus tigers, wolves, bandits, evil spirits to worry about.  It was why most of them learned some martial arts and medicine skills.  In general they would show humility and move away like facing a wild animal.   I think nowadays they just call the police.

 

By the way why downtown is not safer when there are more people around?

 

It seems this a normal attitude a human can do to move away but in this situation the police didn't show up. We were about 3 miles away from 911 headquarters, and about 2 miles away from the police station and they showed up about an hour later. If they learned martial arts most likely they learned something from the classics. Any thoughts on their learning from the classics?

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9 minutes ago, Mig said:

It seems this a normal attitude a human can do to move away but in this situation the police didn't show up. We were about 3 miles away from 911 headquarters, and about 2 miles away from the police station and they showed up about an hour later. If they learned martial arts most likely they learned something from the classics. Any thoughts on their learning from the classics?

 

Martial arts principles can be learned from classics.  Taichi is good example.  But the techniques and experiences cannot.   Such trainings may be able to help to get away from the trouble, by your stance, your confidence etc.    Fighting should be avoided because even you have the power and skill,  you don't have will to seriously hurt another person or to kill him without thinking, but the opponent has no limitations and may even has the experience.   Unlike you, they also don't have to face the conscience afterwards. Trainings do can limit damages.   In general, I think it is similar to an encounter with a bear in the wild.   Be prepared in all ways.

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Master Logray said:

 

Martial arts principles can be learned from classics.  Taichi is good example.  But the techniques and experiences cannot.   Such trainings may be able to help to get away from the trouble, by your stance, your confidence etc.    Fighting should be avoided because even you have the power and skill,  you don't have will to seriously hurt another person or to kill him without thinking, but the opponent has no limitations and may even has the experience.   Unlike you, they also don't have to face the conscience afterwards. Trainings do can limit damages.   In general, I think it is similar to an encounter with a bear in the wild.   Be prepared in all ways.

 

 

 

could you give me examples of which principles can be learned from classics? There are the Confucian fundamental principals or saying from the Analects or Zen sayings or Koans that are incorporated in the sayings from Masters or here and there some sayings from the DDJ or the Zhuang zi. As for the encounter with a bear, I would say it has nothing to do. One one human starts talking and seeing in their eye entitlement and using slurs as a way to rest his case when he knows if he gets caught then he will use his victimism card.

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15 hours ago, Mig said:

could you give me examples of which principles can be learned from classics? There are the Confucian fundamental principals or saying from the Analects or Zen sayings or Koans that are incorporated in the sayings from Masters or here and there some sayings from the DDJ or the Zhuang zi. As for the encounter with a bear, I would say it has nothing to do. One one human starts talking and seeing in their eye entitlement and using slurs as a way to rest his case when he knows if he gets caught then he will use his victimism card.

 

Zhang San Feng would be the best.  He was said to be invented Taichi.  He was also an Inner Alchemist and became an Immortal eventually.  He had some writings and some of them are translated into English.  For others, as you say, sayings scattered here and there.

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3 hours ago, Master Logray said:

 

Zhang San Feng would be the best.  He was said to be invented Taichi.  He was also an Inner Alchemist and became an Immortal eventually.  He had some writings and some of them are translated into English.  For others, as you say, sayings scattered here and there.

Which principles can be learned from the classics that can be applied to this type of situation?

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Posted (edited)

I'd venture to say that your assailant picked you both because he thought he could get something from you by intimidating/threatening you.

 

What could you tell about the person based on your observation? His body language, his articulation/diction, etc? What about the kind of clothes he wore? Did he have "backup"? Were there actually others that showed up/lurking around from different angles towards where you were facing this person? 

 

I know it's not a good idea to "judge a book by its cover", but sometimes appearances can be helpful to determine what kind of trouble you might have been getting yourself into. 

 

About 10 years ago, I was attending a tech conference in San Francisco downtown (Moscone Center), and had two colleagues with me. As we finished up the evening session, we started walking towards Market St (which is the "center of Downtown SF" iirc). It was around 7:15 pm, and as we stood on the other side of Market St., waiting to cross, I noticed a group of young men suddenly perk up as they saw us (there weren't too many people there at the time). From the looks of it, they were hanging on the street. One look at them and I noticed that they were" targeting" us for something. They got up and suddenly broke into 2-3 groups in different directions. As we crossed the street, my colleagues, oblivious to what was going on, ambled along, chatting. I told them to pretend like nothing has happened, but walk real fast. We increased our speed and walked to the alleyway towards the garage where I had parked my car. The garage was almost empty, with not another person in sight. As we got into the car, I locked the doors and windows, and pulled out of the garage, I saw two of those groups converge at the same alleyway we had recently crossed.


My colleagues were still mystified as to what had happened, wondering what got into my craw to make them walk so fast. I pointed to those guys as we drove past and told them we'd have been mugged if we hadn't hurried. 

 

It is always best to walk away from a bad situation. It's also a good idea to be aware of what's going on around us (situational awareness). Not from a state of paranoia, but from a perspective of awareness. 

Edited by dwai
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Thanks Dwai for your input. We were sitting on a bench and behind us there was fence so they don't allow people to camp in the green areas. People walk always around the lake and I suspect he walked several times and who knows maybe he had checked us earlier. He started his inquiry in a normal way, had a white hoodie on him and white shorts wearing black tennis shoes, maybe vans. He was also carrying a regular android or iphone phone, couldn't tell at that time. As soon as he started telling my friend to give him his wallet, he kept telling the same thing as soon as he got closer then I called 911. Then he kept doing the same thing and we didn't move away because I had already called the police and mistakenly I thought they will be there promptly. I was wrong. Apparently, he was by himself and as soon as we walked away, he followed us and when I felt he was coming too close to me, I turned around and then he felt he was ready to fight clenching his fists. I kept walking to the main entrance where usually rangers are posted there. The supervisor came 15' later and didn't do anything and let us know we could walk away. There was imminent threat and close to physical altercation and I kept controlling myself because I didn't know my legal rights on what to do. It was clear an assault and now I know that I can hit back if there is reasonable fear of bodily injury and proportional force to neutralize the threat. The lesson I learned is to be extremely aware of my surroundings and don't count on police. Be ready and best defense is to attack before I get hurt.

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Beyond the physical there is the all important mental game.  After a traumatic event, can we let it go?  Stop thinking about it, not let memories of it trigger us?  It's hard, but important, letting it go, cause trauma hits us deep.  The more we dwell on it, the deeper the grooves get, until it's a hole we keep falling into.  

 

After trauma, review it, learn any lessons, talk it out, then.. stay busy, exercise, when the thought comes, let it go, don't cling to it.  Otherwise we can victimize ourselves as bad as the original crime.  Not easy but it's something to work at.  

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