The title of this post is a saying that is (or was) common in Japan, and reflected the importance of conformity in the Japanese culture. Notwithstanding that prepping tends to reflect the idea of rugged individualism, much of the practice of prepping (including self-defense) actually revolves around not sticking out. Several of Sun Tzu's teachings reflected a belief that the best battle is the one that is never fought. Part of avoiding a battle, or not being a crime victim, is to avoid being singled out as a target. We use terms such as the "grey man" and "OPSEC" as short hand for not sticking out or revealing information that makes us a target. It is all about not calling undue attention to oneself.
Which brings me to a couple of articles that I found interesting. Grant Cunningham recently penned an article for Personal Security Institute called "Learning how to NOT call attention to yourself is part of self defense!" His particular topic is people advertising their ownership of firearms through NRA or firearms related stickers on their vehicles, but is applicable to other aspects of our behavior and demeanor. Cunningham writes:
The presence of those “victim indicators” don’t necessarily mean that the person displaying them will always be attacked, while the opposite posture won’t always keep someone from becoming a victim. They are simply inputs that a criminal will process as he decides who will be victimized. There are no absolutes and no guarantees. However, there are probabilities!This brings me to a second article, entitled "The Art of Blending in: 5 Tips from a Counterintelligence Special Agent" from Graywolf Survival. His tips are for someone travelling in a foreign country or during a grid-down type emergency. They are: 1. Demeanor is your biggest ally and your biggest enemy; 2. Dressing for OPSEC doesn’t mean a disguise; 3. Don’t let your guard down at home; 4. Don’t give away your capabilities; and 5. If you look vulnerable, you look like a target. The author also lists some books for those wishing to pursue the topic further. Anyway, check it out.
Being alert about your surroundings, not allowing yourself to be distracted, decreases the probability of you becoming a victim. It doesn’t eliminate the possibility, of course, but it reduces it substantially relative to those around you. I would never tell anyone to walk around in a public area with their head buried in their phone (though people do it all the time) because it raises their victim profile. It’s a silly thing to do in public (or anyplace where you don’t control who is in your immediate environment) even if it doesn’t always result in being attacked.
Having gun stickers (or any other indicator of valuable possessions) on your car’s bumper is likewise something I advise people not to do. Not because it will inevitably lead to a burglary or assault, but because it raises the risk of those happening beyond what it would likely be if they weren’t present.
This idea of reducing your victim profile is a concept known as “the grey man” — that is, someone who doesn’t call attention to himself in any substantial way. He blends into the background, not standing out against the mass of other people in the environment. It’s modern camouflage, a way to keep from being singled out from the herd. Is it a guarantee? No!
I understand that the idea of not standing out from the rest of humanity is probably anathema to many of my readers; it is to me, to be perfectly honest. I like being a little different than those around me, and being known for being a little different. I choose that difference carefully, however, and entertain it in a way that doesn’t make me seem to be a more valuable victim than someone else. There’s “different” and there’s “better victim” — you need to understand the difference!