In a recent hit piece, cough cough, “article” in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, the sentiment was conveyed to the public that armed security professionals made customers feel “uneasy” when shopping.  While the circulation and penetration of the Iowa City Press-Citizen may only be seven or eight people, it was an example of just how dangerous these incoherent thoughts are along with their origin.

I was sent this article by a friend and here is his text:

I could probably stop right there and hit the “publish” button on this blog, but I think context is best.  And since you’re reading this blog it is likely you’re a thinker.  So, let’s dive into the heart of the matter.

My friend is a smart guy.  Far smarter than I’ll ever be.  So what I’m about to say isn’t a dig on him, as I know what he meant by his text to me.  But, we must be careful always about what I call the “undistributed middle” of every statement.  There is a true thing to say of each thing, along with an untrue thing.  But, not surprisingly, the middle is often where we reside.  While I agree with this text in that professional folks are prepared to administer aid to a shopper in a seizure, a diabetic sugar crash, or even a heart attack, they also provide an undeniable presence that says, “Don’t come here to prey on others.”  I like that.  But it also doesn’t mean that every grocery store without an armed guard is a crime scene waiting to happen.

Have shoppers been abducted, raped, and murdered from parking lots?  Yes.  Do stores and customers get robbed?  Yes.  Would armed professionals stop these things from happening?  Yes, more often than not.

I had a professor once tell me, “The dying and sick are past the care of a physician, and the healthy aren’t in need of one.”

I thought about that statement for a long time.  We all did.  It occurred to me that he had offered up something very slippery, which sounded true, but was only true in part.  The undistributed middle had been completely left out of the equation.  I cast that statement upon my own existence to see if it happened to fit.  Was I terminally ill?  No.  Was I a bastion of health?  No.  So, I, you, we, are usually found somewhere between terminally ill, and in peak health.  The undistributed middle is where we’re often found, and we need to understand what is true of this position.

In the case of Hy-Vee and their choice to add security personnel, it appears the angle of the Iowa City Press-Citizen is to ignore the truth and highlight a kneejerk reaction to something they have never bothered to grasp.  As an aside, I’m also certain the folks who were either indifferent or supportive of the new Hy-Vee staff weren’t included in the article.  But, what is “safety” and how can one achieve it?  The dangerous idea that we can meander through life and all will be well is ludicrous.  That simply isn’t how life works.  It doesn’t work that way in Rwanda, Ukraine, or America.  Each of the places I mentioned is war-torn.  The Hutu tribe will enthusiastically kill you for no more than being born of the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda.  Ukraine is resisting the invasion of a neighboring oppressive regime.  And the United States is in a fight for its very future as the culture war rages.  You need to be situationally aware in each of these places.  The preference to immerse yourself in your smartphone while shopping combined with outrage at seeing a person inserted into your store simply to lend you the aid shoppers might need is truly perilous.

Preparedness is key and context will unlock the truth.  The dangerous mindset of the crazies who march right out and never use their brains to think through the possibilities is multiplying.  What is the truth here?  The dangerous among us believe an armed guard is solely for shooting people.  No joke.  That is their mindset.  They can’t get past the sight of a tool, a gun, in this case, used by an armed guard to stop a threat.  They’re visual and not discerning.  They don’t see the whole picture.  They never do.

What do I see?  I see a man or a woman who has dedicated their time and passion to serve others.  They train.  A lot.  They train with their weapons, but that’s only part of it.  Their weapons aren’t relegated only to things they carry on their hip.  Rather, they train to deescalate arguments between two divorced parents, apply first aid to an elderly man that has fallen,  and reunite a little girl lost in a store with their parents all while keeping them calm and confident.  They are prepared to insert themselves into harm’s way for people they’ve never spoken to.  When I see a professional in a store like Hy-Vee, I view THEM as the tool.  Their minds are their weapons, not the gun on the hip.  Unlike the dangerous, these security people mentally prepare to help others in all facets.  These people have within them hundreds of tools waiting to be deployed whenever warranted.  You’ve seen a picture of that huge Swiss Army knife with every imaginable tool included, right?  That’s what I see when I view these folks.  But it doesn’t stop there.

These folks could be considered a multi-tool, yes.  A tool is often used to fix something that is broken.  They’ll do that.  But their presence is a preventative measure as well – not only reactive.  You can put up some idiotic “Gun Free Zone” sticker and walk around in denial, or you can have a living, breathing, trained, and professional person that is doing their part to keep others safe.  (Note, the dangerous actually think a “Gun Free Zone” sticker carries some sort of inherent weight.  That’s how dangerous they are.  If they’re reading this, that’ll stump them.)

I think the public would be shocked how often these professionals are given tips on the bad behavior of others.  Whether that be a shoplifter in the process of theft, or a kid trying to lift door handles in hopes of finding an unlocked car, these professionals hear all kinds of things they can assist with or get in front of.  I witnessed a kid who was about to steal get a heartfelt conversation with a security professional (an off-duty cop in this case), and the boy was offered some support services to avoid the temptation in the future.  Resources were offered, the boy didn’t get entangled in the system, and someone proved to him they cared enough to help him.  And the dangerous minds out there are having a bull calf over these acts of virtue?  They never considered for a second all the wonderful actions and outcomes these professionals bring to the shopping realm.  They saw a gun on a hip and responded stupidly.  They’re dangerous, truly.  They have no respect or regard for the truth and prefer living their lie.  If you really want to watch the dangerous among us go into full meltdown, offer them this IFC BLOG where we explain that 1 in 6 eligible Iowans has a permit and is carrying.  So, of the 100 or so folks they’re shopping among, 16 or so were permitted and probably carrying.

The dangerous mindset of the crazies will continue to provoke customers into a tunnel vision response.  But, Hy-Vee proactively seeks to make their stores better for their customers.  Sure, they want their revenue and I’m glad to give it to them.  But they also want the relationship associated with a safer shopping experience.  That’s a loving act.  So give Hy-Vee the credit for caring enough to make PEOPLE the top priority and resist the temptation to be pulled into some really dangerous habits in thought.  Seek the context of the undistributed middle, and the truth will reveal itself.

In Liberty,

Michael Ware – IFC