I’ve been watching with interest the way Donald Trump deals with ‘awkward’ folk. He doesn’t muck about, that much is clear, and you know what? It works. He’s threatened to take the trade war to China, he’s vowed to “rain down fire and fury, the like of which the world has never seen” on North Korea, and this week he’s basically told Iran it can ‘do one’ over its nuclear deal.
Each time he makes one of his ‘my way or the high way’ statements, the world holds its breath. The news media goes into overdrive on what it might mean, what exactly the target of Trump’s venom may do in retaliation and then…nothing. Trump is proving that his method of standing up unequivocally to the bully, well it kind of works.
It got me thinking, what if we all started behaving like Trump in our everyday lives? What if we stood up for what we believe is right and proper and stopped expecting someone else to come in and fight out battles for us? Of course to do this one needs to be sure that the wider community and more importantly the law is on side. Trump is in the unique position of being the most powerful person on the planet so he’s in a good starting position. But then so was Obama but sometimes you wouldn’t have known.
The recent case of Richard Osborn-Brooks is a reminder to us all of what can happen when a wrong-doer is confronted. Although the finer details of what happened on that fateful night of 4th April in Hither Green, south London, are still unclear, we do know that Mr Osborn-Brooks didn’t cower in a corner and wait for the intruders to have their fun and leave. He tackled the men who had broken into his house and somehow ended up killing the burglar, possibly with the burglar’s own weapon. Trump would fully approve, but due to the law being what it is, Osborn-Brooks ended up spending time in police custody. He has since not been able to return to his own home.
We have become afraid to confront people who are breaking the law, behaving antisocially or just being a nuisance. Why? Because we fear for our own safety in what they may do to us in return, and we don’t have faith that the people around us, or the law, will back us up if this happens.
The Spectator’s own Mary Wakefield wrote in an article how young gang members have taken over her local park rendering it a no-go area for law-abiding citizens. She writes how her husband saw one young gangster chase another across the park and stab him in the leg, and then “when the police arrived they arrested the victim because he’d stabbed another boy first”.
I used the Trump tactic a few weeks ago, quite by accident. I happened to be out on my driveway early one Sunday morning and saw a young lad walking on the other side of the road, unwrapping a sandwich. He thought no-one was looking so he paused briefly to shove the plastic wrapper deep into my neighbour’s hedge.
‘Oy!’ I yelled at him. ‘Take that out of that hedge now and put it in the bin, there’s one at the top of the road!’ And, I think more out of surprise than anything else, he did just that. My husband mutters darkly all the time that one day I’ll get myself into trouble but I find the older I get, the less I’m able to just do nothing.
I’ve been a student of ITF Taekwondo for nearly a decade, rather ironically it hails from none other than North Korea, and it’s fundamentally about self-defence rather than aggression. In the children’s syllabus they learn twelve ways to stand up to a bully, the first six being very rational; try talking to the bully, agreeing with, ignoring them, try reasoning, humour, walking away, but if all else fails be prepared to fight, fight big and fight to win. Trump would undoubtedly approve.