The title of this piece is, of course, a famous line from legendary boxer Mike Tyson. He said it in response to people who asked him how he would deal with opponents, this guy’s lateral movement or that guy’s footwork, etc. However, it is truly a metaphor for many situations in life and applies far beyond the boxing ring.
Just a few days ago, Ayoub El Khazzini, a 26-year-old Moroccan man had a plan. Khazzini boarded a train with almost 300 rounds of ammunition, an AK-47, a knife, and a bottle of petrol. Massive amounts of death in the close quarters of the train could have been an alternative result in France.
However, three Americans, a Brit, and a French-American “punched” Khazzini in the mouth, figuratively and literally until he was unconscious. The would-be Jihadi, his internet history shows evidence of terrorist intent, had his plans derailed by brave men who made quick decisions, as one of them put it, “I’m not going to be the guy who dies sitting down.”
Khazzini and his lawyer say he was just trying to rob the train. However, that is laughable considering what he brought with him to do so, links to radical Islamic groups including Islamic State, and his computer history. CNN is reporting the French prosecutor says Khazzini will be charged with attempted mass murder and membership of a terrorist organization.
Terror attacks are on the rise around the world, the United States included. Edmund Burke summarized the potential problem many years ago:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
When good men and women do nothing, terror can take hold and trap whole societies in fear. Terror success breeds success, it emboldens others to do similar or even worse acts and makes it easier to recruit others to the cause. However, it works both ways.
The potential positives from this incident are huge. Many times when evil is at the doorsteps, people do nothing, especially in large groups. This phenomenon is called the “diffusion of responsibility” in psychology. But, there are men and women who answer clarion calls, who are not paralyzed by fear or terrorism. They jump into action in seconds, choosing fight over flight. These will be who inspire cities, countries, and the world to take action and refuse to submit to Islamic Extremist terrorism, they will not be “guy who dies sitting down.”
The actions of the brave five in France should serve as a rallying cry, a source of strength for everyday people and their leaders to not help grow terrorism by feeding it fear, but rather run to the fight head on. “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.