We learn in life that there are times when we should speak up, and there are times when we should wait to speak . This epiphany occurred to me and two of my friends on Saturday night, as we were walking along 14th St in Park Slope. This is a relatively safe community and we justifiably felt safe even though the lighting on the side streets is minimal.
We were mugged by three people who obviously had very little to lose but possibly a lot to gain. Our response to the situation was to give up our cell phones and money rather than be confrontational with them. I realized that being confrontational in a situation when you feel anger and feel frustration can work against you. It is a time when you need to know what your priorities are. Anyone would agree that your life is more valuable than loose change in your pocket or a phone. By keeping our cool we kept our self-respect while the muggers sold theirs for few buck and a couple of quickly deactivated phones.
The point of this story is to let other young men know that to be a man, you need to know when to keep your mouth shut. That doesn’t mean don’t speak up, because after we were mugged, we went to the police precinct to report the mugging. I don’t believe that many people do this. They assume they’ve been victimized and there’s no recourse. That is not the case. We always need to recognize the power that we have. By reporting the incident to the local police precinct, we may have saved another group of guys our age from being mugged the following day, because the police presence was greater by the following day now that they were alerted to the situation. We also canvassed the neighborhood with the police. Yes, it was two in the morning. And yes, we were tired and mentally drained, but we did what we needed to do in order to make the situation right for ourselves and for other guys in the future.
I may have lost $10 and a cell phone. My friend may have lost an iPhone. However, we all gained a valuable lesson about being a New Yorker today. You need to look around. You need to be cautious. You also need to know when to be a man and stand up for yourself at the proper time. Keeping a cool head in the tense situation is part of the process. Hopefully this letter, as well as the fact that this mugging was reported will help some other person in the future. I hope someone will do this for me if I happen to be in that situation again.