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  • Writer's pictureArthur Mills

The Empty Lot Next Door - Self-Defense vs. Submission

The Empty Lot Next Door: Self-Defense vs. Submission

May 15, 2024


SPOILER ALERT: This journal entry analyzes the contrasting approaches to physical confrontation between my brother Ricky and me and how these differences reflect deeper aspects of our characters and the world around us. If you're trying to avoid spoilers, it's advisable not to read further until you've finished reading The Empty Lot Next Door. Reading this journal entry may reveal important plot details that you'd rather discover on your own.

 

A significant difference in our responses to aggression is a recurrent theme in our story. Ricky, my older brother by 18 months, consistently chooses a path of non-violence, an admirable stance yet deeply troubling in many ways. I have observed numerous occasions where Ricky, faced with physical threats, refrained from fighting back. Whether it was Andre’s unrelenting attacks, Carlos's bullying, or the more frightening physical abuse by our older brothers, Dan and Felix, Ricky remained passive, stoically accepting whatever came his way.


Ricky’s commitment to non-retaliation, grounded in our religious upbringing and personal convictions, raises critical questions about the effectiveness of "turning the other cheek" in real-world scenarios. His approach, while peaceful, often left him vulnerable and, in many instances, only invited further aggression. It's a method preached widely, yet its practicality in the face of relentless bullying and abuse seems questionable.


Contrastingly, my approach evolved differently. Initially, I found myself paralyzed, unable to fight back against the terrifying supernatural forces I encountered, particularly Candle Face. But as the story progressed, a change occurred within me. The relentless bullying and violence that surrounded us, coupled with the reality of Ricky's suffering, sparked a realization that sometimes, self-defense is not just a right, but a necessity.


This realization came into focus during a confrontation outside my babysitter, Mrs. Hemenis' apartment, where, for the first time, I chose to retaliate physically against a bully. This moment marked a significant turning point, shedding light on the potential necessity of self-defense in certain situations.


The contrasting responses to bullying between Ricky and me are reflective of broader societal debates on how to handle such situations. While the prevailing teaching in many schools, where I have been invited to speak, advocates for a non-violent approach like Ricky's, my experiences and observations led me to believe this is not always the most effective strategy. In practice, not fighting back often results in continued, if not escalated, bullying. This stance is something I have passionately argued for during my presentations, only to be met with scolding and criticism from school personnel, leading to a lack of further invitations, even from the elementary school Ricky and I attended – Dawson Elementary School in Austin, TX.


The irony here is stark. While Ricky's approach aligns with current teachings, it did not prevent his suffering. In contrast, my evolving stance, which includes the option of physical self-defense, is often dismissed or condemned, despite its potential to deter bullies. This contradiction is a critical point of contention and highlights a significant gap in the current understanding and handling of bullying.


The story of Ricky and me is an emotional exploration of the complexities of dealing with aggression and bullying. Despite its noble intentions, Ricky's steadfast commitment to non-violence often left him more vulnerable. In the end, he took his own life. In contrast, my journey towards embracing self-defense as a viable option demonstrates the necessity of considering alternative approaches. These contrasting experiences underscore the need for a better understanding of bullying and the methods to combat it, one that recognizes the value of self-defense while upholding the principles of peace and non-violence.

 

Key To Understanding

To ensure readers grasp the full context and significance of this article, it’s crucial to be familiar with Arthur Mills’ award-winning memoir The Empty Lot Next Door, inspired by actual ghostly events in Austin, TX. The book provides essential background information, and without it, the nuances and depth of this article might not be fully appreciated. Therefore, reading The Empty Lot Next Door is highly recommended for a more enriched and coherent understanding of this article’s content and implications.


To purchase The Empty Lot Next Door, please visit Amazon


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