Many people are of the impression that the world would be a safer place if people do not resist when criminals do terrible things, whether just robbing someone or whether committing violence. The popular thinking in some circles is that criminals are less likely to hurt you if you just do what they tell you to do.
I won’t argue that, for some criminals, it really is just about getting the money and getting away from the scene of the crime. Unfortunately, though, that isn’t always the case. It may be that this isn’t usually the case. Certainly, there are instances when cooperation doesn’t help.
A sad instance of this comes out of Madera County California (hat tip to here for the lead). In this tragic case, the robber shot a clerk at a convenience store after robbing the convenience store. The clerk had cooperated and given the robber what he had asked for, but the robber still shot the clerk on the way out the door. Brianna Calix gives us Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney’s thoughts on the incident:
“Some people put way too low of a value on the lives both of the victims and the families that they disrupt by doing things like this,” Varney said. “I think this was a pretty cowardly act for this person to do that on the way out the door after the clerk had done everything to comply with their needs to take someone else’s property.”
Varney is absolutely right that this was a cowardly act. He is also right about the way some criminals place little to no value on other peoples’ lives, but, if you think about it, it is this disregard for other peoples’ lives that allows them to be okay with taking other peoples’ property. In other words, many criminals are criminals exactly because they devalue human life.
What Varney doesn’t say, at least not in this quote, is that for those who devalue human life, self-defense is often the only way to ensure that you survive the encounter. Cooperation does not work with these people except as a temporary delay until you can find a way to disable their ability to injure anyone.
In other words, cooperation only works if the other person has reasons for theft such as survival. Other criminals do what they do because they don’t care about their fellow man, and, in those cases, cooperation is a gamble at best. So, no, cooperation isn’t necessarily the best way to ensure your survival.