When I saw the story of Peter Gold, the Tulane University med student who was shot for attempting to intervene in an assault last Friday, the first thing I thought was, that is messed up. (OK, I might have said something stronger than “messed up.”)
But my second thought followed soon after: That could have been me.
As I’ve written before, one of my vehicles of entry into gun culture was an encounter I had with a criminal who was having an altercation with a drug-addicted neighbor in the parking lot of our apartment complex.
My first instinct was to intervene to try to diffuse the situation, which I did. I regretted getting involved even before this person (who I barely knew) showed up at my apartment door the next morning, disheveled and talking about how the guy threatened her with a knife and stole her phone and car.
I felt bad for regretting helping her, but I realized that I had invited trouble into my home — a home for three children for whom I was the sole source of financial support.
I don’t think it is far-fetched to think that I could have ended up like Peter Gold for trying to intervene in a situation that I understood poorly. I would definitely make a different choice under the same circumstances today.
At the same time, if I felt compelled to intervene in such a situation today, I am much better prepared to do so in every way. These things definitely need to be thought out in advance.