“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” – H.L. Mencken

Every person has it in them — the demon. I’m not sure what it is exactly, whether it’s some inner spiritual rage or some biological instinct to spur one toward survival at any cost, but it’s there, and it’s inside everyone. The warrior types are generally more inclined to tap into their inner demon, to use it in combat of some form or another, but just about any person can be pushed to that point if they’re hungry enough or their family is threatened. The most devoted of pacifists must “train” it out of themselves so that when they are put to the test, it doesn’t rise up. Rest assured, it’s still there.

My father was an emergency room doctor for many years, and he always told me how surprised he was at how many people it would take to hold down a ten-year old kid for treatment, if he truly did not want to be held down. If he was in excruciating pain and he felt that, for whatever irrational reason, his life was threatened by the hospital staff around him, he would kick and scream and writhe so much that multiple doctors and nurses and paramedics would have to hold him down. We’re only talking about a 60 pound kid.

It’s true, sometimes fear does other things — it can freeze people or make them frantically run or cower in some corner. But everyone is capable, somewhere deep down, of extreme violence. Untrained, that violence is relatively chaotic and might serve to hurt the person as much as his or her adversaries. Untrained, that demon may not be able to overpower the instinct to freeze in fear, or to run when others need help.