There are two methods of fighting, the one by law, the other by force: the first method is that of men, the second of beasts. - Niccolò Machiavelli
What does that mean?
This is another Twitter-friendly quote. The more complete version is : “You must know there are two ways of contesting, the one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to understand how to avail himself of the beast and the man.”
This is an interesting quote, and one that I think applies to modern people as easily as to the Princes of the City State era. While most of us don’t have enemies that require this kind of treatment in the literal sense, there are people out there who will use these methods against others.
By understanding how it works, you are better prepared to understand what is going on, and to take appropriate actions to protect yourself or to warn others to protect themselves. From inner city gangs to border raiders, there are people even in the USA who work this way.
The obvious and most likely people to use this method today would be criminal organizations. However, in areas where the government is less than effective at keeping order, any type of organization could work these methods. From warlords to tribal groups to narcotics cartels, there is no shortage of people using this method.
Why is being prepared for the worst important?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not implying that it is our duty as individuals to be ready and prepared to take out a (potentially) violent gang on your own. The preparation of which I speak is to be ready in case something is getting ready to go down. Be ready to get out, or call the appropriate authorities.
But there are others who, while less overtly violent, use similar methods. There are plenty of businesses which operate this way towards their competitors. Look at the history of the auto industry in America and how they treated Tucker and his attempts to start a new car company. And we don’t want to go into politics, do we?
There are those who say some of the unions use tactics like this. In my (very limited) personal experience with unions, I didn’t see the animal side, but there is plenty of video on the internet that seem to back the allegations. There are also plenty of “social” organizations (often based on race or ethnicity) that are alleged to follow the pattern as well (I’m looking at you, Klu Klux Klan).
Where can I apply this in my life?
Do you live in an are where there are any of the issues mentioned above? Do you ever travel to other areas, areas where these things might possibly happen? The news is full of stories about a tourist or a visitor who took a wrong turn and ended up in a world of trouble.
What would you do in such a situation? You’re in a strange city, lost, and in a neighborhood where you don’t feel at home or at ease. What if you’re on foot, or got off at the wrong train stop? Now what? Better yet, what can you do to avoid the situation in the first place?
What can you do to be more aware of your surroundings? What can you do to better plan you trip and routes? What can you do to limit your possible exposure? Taxi cabs may be expensive, but you don’t have to worry about routes or parking. What is that worth to you?
One of the other possibilities I mentioned was in business. There are ruthless people out there. What can you do if you run a business? Many businesses these days have closed circuit TV, could you use that to help protect you against aggressive behavior?
What about developing a good relationship with the local police or other authorities? Perhaps they already know a little about the people in question, and you can help them better monitor the situation. Perhaps your information will help get them off the streets and protect your business at the same time.
While this quote isn’t as broadly applicable as some of my blogs are, I would still give some thought to what you would do if you got lost in a less than inviting part of town. Even better, think about how to avoid such an occurance from even happening the next time you leave familiar territory.