When I first began thinking about getting a gun to protect myself and my family, one of my friends told me she was concerned about me. “That just seems so negative,” she told me. “Like you’re just looking for bad things to happen all the time.” She went on to say that she believed negative thoughts attract negative events, and that she would never carry a gun because she didn’t want to invite that kind of negativity into her life.
I understood what my friend meant. Who wants to live with ugly, unpleasant thoughts? Why wouldn’t you want to think the best of other people, and cherish positive expectations about future events? We’ve all met the crotchety, nasty old guy who seems to thrive on ugly thoughts and unpleasant emotions. You ask him how he is, and he immediately launches into a dreary litany of how awful the world is, how terribly his children have treated him, how obnoxious his ex-wife was and how the country is going to hades in handwoven basket. I don’t want to be That Guy, and neither do you.
Events over the past few months give an ugly twist to that thought. Do you suppose the victims of heinous crimes somehow attracted that evil to themselves? I don’t. For example, I think most of the people at the Clackamas mall in Oregon were simply shopping for Christmas, as cheerfully or as grumpily as any other people in any other mall in the nation, and it seems unlikely to me that any one of them were thinking about getting shot that day. The children at Sandy Hook … it would hurt my heart to think that any of those small, innocent, beloved children were somehow guilty of bringing negative energy into their lives. They were just living, doing what small children do. And yet evil came to them anyway.
For me, being prepared to cope with trouble adds a certain relaxed joy to my life. It does not mean I expect trouble or welcome it. It simply means I can relax and focus on the good things in my life. If trouble comes to me despite my positive outlook, I am prepared to keep myself and my loved ones safe.
Getting the skills and carrying the tools you might need in order to defend yourself sometime in your life is a lot like checking the oil, looking at your tire wear, and making sure your spare tire is good before going on a long car trip. When you do those things, it just means you’re prepared to cope with trouble if it comes to you. It does not mean you expect trouble or will attract trouble. It simply means that when you slide into the driver’s seat, you can enjoy the journey rather than obsessing about everything that could go wrong along the way.