A Message to The People of Rapid City,
Reading through the comments of several recent Facebook posts made by local law enforcement agencies, I was struck once again by some of the ideas being expressed. I say “once again” because this isn’t the first time I’ve read such sentiments recently.
I could say it’s puzzling, but really it’s not. I understand these folks. I’ve been there. This is the point where Normalcy Bias encounters unfiltered, close-quarters reality. The true state of the world breaks into your bubble, and you’re smacked in the face with unpleasantness.
Select comments from a few posts regarding recent crime:
“Are you kidding me? Rapid has changed so much. Definitely gotta look over both shoulders nowadays. Just saw that there was ANOTHER shooting at a mobile park THIS morning!!”
“Wow, RC is becoming more dangerous just like the big cities. Too bad”
“yeah seems it doesn’t make the paper unless someone gets shot or stabbed. The amount of crime in this town is shocking.”
“What is happening to rapid city :( my kids are definitely not growing up in the same town that I grew up in and it is so sad…”
Ok. I understand it can be shocking for a minute when Bad Things happen in your backyard. But pretty quickly, at least for me, logic assumes control over emotion and you begin to realize you just had the wrong expectations.
Does anyone reasonably expect the world to stay the same, anywhere? The M.O. of humanity is progress, even progress for its own sake. So Change, generally, is inevitable and constant. Can this be a bad thing? For sure; it often is, and many are saddened. But I think it’s mostly because our expectations tend to be that “progress” means “improvement in all areas all the time.” Which is obviously unrealistic.
No, we should in reality expect that the future will unfold according to history and the current situation. There’s no better history to inform Rapid City’s future than the recent history of cities like Denver and Minneapolis, and LA and NYC before them. I’ve long said we in West River, SD get everything last. It may or may not be true, but what we do get we can usually see coming from the coasts.
“You officially failed with the sub station in that area alot of tax payers money gone to waste again. Better get back to square one on the board. Seems like the crime got worse and u gave them a challenge by thinking u were solving the crime.”
This is fair, from a certain perspective. For people who are willing – even eager – to outsource personal responsibility to the State – in this case the city government – this is a fair statement.
Except even then it seems there were perhaps some misplaced expectations. Logic might tell you – if you listen – that law enforcement only enforces the law after it’s been broken. So the police aren’t really useful in stopping crime, except in some cases as a deterrent. And sure, we might rightly expect that having a nearby substation would deter some crimes in the area.
But the nature of the crimes we’re dealing with in this case I think precludes mere deterrence-by-presence. This type of crime – violent crime in general – tends to ignore the presence of any Rule of Law entities as it ignores the presence of social norms, cultural expectations and civilized society. In other words, this stuff is going to happen regardless of police presence or anything else.
Which brings us back to the question: why are we surprised, stupefied and paralyzed by it? Has the enemy not made themselves known? Are their intentions not clear? How much “will someone do something!” are we going to engage in before realizing each of us is Someone?
“Once again, you don’t think RCPD is doing enough to protect you (our) community?!!! Gown up and go for it! To you nay sayers, earn a badge and protect your own neighborhoods, as they can’t be there for you 24/7! I for one would not have their job for all the money in the world. Take a look at this picture that is replicated in this city all too often! Scary as h*ll to me! They are out there packing guns and crazy on meth with no regard to life. Stay safe RCPD and thank you for stepping up to do the job no one else wants! <3”
There’s a lot going on here. First we have the false notion that if you are to be a protector, you have to earn a badge of some sort. Followed immediately by the truth: our badged civil servants can’t be there for you 24/7. How on earth can we ever protect ourselves 24/7?
And for sure it’s often a thankless job, featuring underpaid positions, red tape, tied hands, despicable politics, unbalanced training, and all kinds of risk. I skipped it, too, though thankfully at the time that decision was out of my hands. Still, we should certainly be thankful for the men and women who are willing and able. But their willingness does not absolve us of our own responsibility.
The truth is YOU are responsible, firstly and directly, for your own safety and security. If you outsource that to someone else, don’t be surprised when they don’t perform as you expect. I mean, let’s be honest here: For YOU, The Reader, right now. Someone ambushes you from out of nowhere, sticking a knife against your side and demanding everything you have. How do you think you’d perform? Would you make all the right decisions? Would you be able to protect yourself from that threat? Would you be able to perform emergency first aid on yourself after you inevitably get cut up in the struggle? How would you do controlling that scene, calling 911 and talking to police when they show up? And that’s assuming you win AND survive.
Being your own protector is even worse than being in law enforcement. You have to pay for all your own training and gear. You don’t get paid at all for doing it, and no one will ever thank you for being ready. You don’t get to be always comfortable and blissfully Condition White. You don’t get to “let someone else deal with it.” Because remember, Someone Else can’t be there 24/7; not the police, not your dad or your friends, not your husband or wife.
It’s just you.
“4 shootings in a matter of days? Rapid City is definitely changing, and it is most definitely not for the better. Never carried a gun in my life outside of the last few years and sure wish I didn’t have to.”
Finally, here is someone who clearly has taken responsibility for their own safety – and hopefully acquired some training as well.
Look, I wish I could wave the Infinity Gauntlet and make every gun disappear. Every blade. Every hammer? Every rock? Ah. Hmm. You know, I think Thanos can be seen as a metaphor for violence: “I am inevitable.”
But for those of us dealing with reality, we’re best served by getting past the “fight/flight/freeze” part of this little revelation. Instead of “wishing,” and relying on luck, fate, hopium or the State, let’s come to terms with our calling: “Ok, this is what we’re doing now.”
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…”
It’s Just You
This is the bottom line. You are your own security guard, your own defender and protection detail, your own first responder. Would you hire you for any of those positions? Maybe it’s time to become qualified. At the very least, it’s time to face reality.