"Wisdom to know the difference." How? I don't know and I am sure any mortal will ever know whether an action taken was truly justified. Stozzi-Heckler's example is interesting. I am sure once he disarmed the kid, he felt the kid's fear. He stopped and was, perhaps, fortunate the other "punks" stopped as well. But the punks initiated the attack. Were it someone else, would they have stopped at a beating or at the taking of a life. Will they move on to a less fortunate person the next time? I appreciate Heckler's mercy but who but God will know the long term outcome?
I shared a story once, I think here, about a incident I had in Charlestown. Darin Yee was teaching a children's class in a project there. Well, the townies didn't take to that. They started to intimidate the kids after class, shoving them around and other stuff. Darin asked me to attend the class and to walk the kids to the train station afterwards. (He also told me that some of my "senior" brothers would be there. Turned out none of them showed. Another story.) Well, after the class, on the way out of the projects, the townies showed. 8 or 9 of them, big teens, carrying sticks and pipes and blocking our way out of the projects. I could feel the fear rippling through the group of kids I was with. There were probably a dozen of us but they were only 13-15 years old (I was the oldest at 17.) Well, I was scared too. But where to go? I decided to act crazy and went right at the biggest guy in the middle and shoved him. I could sense the hesitation on their part. The kids never fought back before. The big kid looked at me and looked at his friends. My ploy almost worked but then the punk then decided to swing the pipe at me. I blocked it. He dropped it and ran. I went after him because now I was really pissed. Big mistake. I chased after him, leaving some my kids behind and others following me. The punk I was chasing ran into a house and I heard someone screamed, "Get the shotgun!" I immediately turned and ran back the other way and my kids followed. On the way back, I saw one the bad guys. He had a stick and he tried to hide it behind his leg. I ran up to him and said, "drop it." He did. The kids I was with starting kicking and punching at him with little or no effect. This punck was way bigger (kinda of funny in retrospect.) I finally shouted to the kids, "Cut the sh^t!" I couldn't see trying to beat on this guy when he had already complied and had no fight left in him. So we went back on our way. When we got back to the original point of encounter. I saw several of my kids standing around and a couple of townies. One of the townies was holding his shoulder, bleeding profusely. I went up to him and again the palatable fear. He started to say almost pleadingly, "I was trying to help. I was trying to help." I took his hand away from the shoulder. He had three or four puncture wounds in the shoulder chest area, just over the heart. I asked who did it. One of my kids, Frankie B, said he did it. I started screaming at him because earlier I had asked if any the kids were carrying weapons. At the stage of my life, weapons were in my mind taboo. The kids all said they had nothing. Anyway, I knew one or more of townies were on the way back with a shotgun. I did a quick headcount and we ran to chain linked fence next to a highway and scaled it, ran across the highway towards the next T station. We got out of there safely. When I talked to Frank B about why he stabbed the kid, he said several of them knocked him down and were beating him with sticks and pipes. He pulled a switch blade, got himself up and did a stabitystabstab on the closest guy. Well, I wasn't going to get on his case for that. Darin later found out the kid that was stabbed was the leader of that group of punks. Darin was also smart enough to move out of those projects soon after.
What's the moral of the story. Just that one can't know ultimately. You do the best you can within the parameters of one believes is right or wrong. I made mistakes there. But I was trying to follow my own moral compass. To this day, I try to maintain two rules: One, don't fight unless I really, really believe my safety or someone elses is in jeapardy. Two, stop and desist when the attacker is down. I want to stop him not necessarily kill him (though that may happen in the process). I have had incidents since then and, for the most part, I followed these two rules. Yes. I've violated number One a couple of times and I feel bad about it. And, I sort of violated number Two once. After each incident, no matter how justified, I face some internal repercussion, some internal disturbance and soul searching. But, I am human. I leave it to greater power to judge. I try to follow that prayer: "Let me change the things that I can. Let me accept the things I cant'. Let me have wisdom to tell the difference."
Read Strozzi Heckler's, In Search of The Warrior Spirit. He too struggles with violence and where it fits. He too is trying to find "wisdom". I'm sure he has flashes of it and sometimes the wisdom is just not there. We are human, afterall.