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As I See It

Two weeks ago, the Mississippi Business Journal office was burglarized. I can’t say it came as a complete surprise. Though we are not located in the worst crime area of Jackson, neither are we in a commercial complex in the seemingly safer suburbs.

The perpetrator(s) threw a couple of bricks through two of our windows and helped themselves to two computers and a stereo system. I think they will be disappointed with their take since we use Macintosh computers and they are probably not as marketable as PCs would be.

To add insult to injury, our motion detector system did not sound an alarm. The sensors are aimed at the doors and our visitors did not use the doors. We are modifying the system to accommodate those who choose to enter by window rather than by the more traditional means.

That same night, my son’s truck was stolen from an apartment complex in Hattiesburg. As of press time, the police have not recovered the truck and my son is on foot for the first time since he began driving, certainly an humbling experience.

On a lesser, but equally irritating note, my home mailbox was destroyed on the same day as the break-in at MBJ. Similarly, one of our staff writers had his home mailbox decimated — scoured from the side of the road — on the same day. So much for the encouraging reports of crime reduction in Mississippi.

Let me emphatically say that I consider us lucky in all these happenings because no one was injured or threatened. We can get more trucks, mailboxes and iMacs. In my mind, the importance of property loss pales by comparison to any injury to people. We are thankful.

Notwithstanding that we are thankful that no one was injured in all these transgressions, we are still angry that they occurred. As with all crime victims, we feel violated. People have crossed our boundary lines and we are generally defenseless to punish the guilty parties.

What would we have done if we had caught the criminals in the act? If we were armed, would we have responded with violence? What should we have done if the opportunity to intervene had presented itself?

These are questions that need to be addressed before a situation arises since, in the heat of battle, we are likely to make an emotional response rather than resorting to considered judgment. It would help to have thought the situation through in advance.

It seems to me that the question is neatly divisible into two components: is there risk of bodily injury or is the risk limited to property damage. Seeing someone tear down a mailbox is drastically different from confronting an armed assailant of unknown intentions.

When there is no risk of personal injury, I suggest that we concentrate on getting meaningful evidence to assist the police and make no attempt to intervene. To do otherwise places us unnecessarily in harms way.

What if confrontation with an armed assailant is unavoidable? Statistics tell us that most people end up making the situation worse, either by injuring themselves or angering the assailant, when they pull a gun and attempt to capture the culprit. It is easy to boast about how dashing and heroic we would be if the appropriate situation presented itself. Truth is, many of us have never seriously contemplated whether we could kill another human being. If we hesitate at the moment of truth to think about our willingness to shoot, chances are we will be worse off than if we simply surrendered and hoped for the best.

I would not presume to offer moral guidance for victims confronted by an armed assailant. Taking a human life is the most serious decision one is ever likely to encounter. If you can’t imagine living with a killing on your conscience, then I think you would be well advised to leave the gun holstered.

THOUGHT FOR THE MOMENT

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

— ROMANS 12:17

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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