Fight or Flight – The Laws of Human Nature Applied to Society Today

“The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for.” – Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)

We have all heard about the age-old concept of “fight or flight,” which is the body’s physiological reaction that occurs when we are faced with something mentally or physically terrifying.  It’s nature’s way of protecting us from harm.  It’s a fairly simple concept.  Do we stay and fight, or do we run away from the danger at hand?

Personally, I think it all has to do with our own personal preparation for confronting the unknown, hopefully mixed with a great deal of common sense.  Do we stay and fight the 500-pound grizzly bear (ill-advised), or do we run like hell?  This is the question that has faced humanity since the beginning of time.  Our soldiers face it on the battlefield.  Our firefighters and peace officers face it as well.  As terrifying as some things may be, the option of “flight” isn’t always viable.  Soldiers move into battle; firefighters run toward flames; the police officer confronts the armed criminal.

This reality has become even more fearsome over the past several decades when it comes to the all-too-common mass shootings we have experienced as a nation.  After the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, law enforcement nationwide moved to standardize responses to these deadly events.  By 2002, the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training regimen (ALERRT) was created to deal specifically with how agencies were to respond to mass shooting events.

One of the major tenets of this new training was the fact that officers were now expected to immediately move to engage the shooter(s), no matter how many officers were on the scene.  If a single officer arrives and hears the sound of gunfire, that officer is expected to move aggressively towards that gunfire, particularly if additional resources are significantly delayed.

The thought behind this edict is that if the officer can engage the shooter(s) immediately upon locating them, the shooter(s) will either turn their focus towards the officer or run to escape (fight or flight), thereby increasing the odds of survival for those being targeted.  As a cop on the street, I willfully accepted this reality and was prepared to do exactly as expected.

In 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) standardized this training nationwide.  They also implemented guidelines for civilians on how to react if confronted with an active shooter situation.  Run. Hide. Fight. Fairly simple instructions, but in the time of great danger, simplicity is your friend.  If you find yourself in a situation like this, you run to get away.  If you can’t get away from the danger, your next best option is to hide as best you can.  When all else fails and your life is directly endangered and with no other recourse, then you have to fight like hell. It’s a logical and understandable method of self-survival.

Using the analogy of how law enforcement now responds to active shooter events, we, as a society, have been running for far too long.  We have run from cities, towns and states that have seemingly been overrun with a culture of criminality.  We have run from the violent protests.  We have run from the inner cities.  We have run from the criminals who prey upon others. We have run from the drug addicts and mentally ill who roam our streets, seemingly at will.  We have run from liberal policies, politicians, district attorneys, judges, and police administrators who have allowed our neighborhoods to turn into battle zones.

We have hidden in our homes, giving up our trips to the store, the park, movie theaters, malls and grocery stores.  We have resorted to hiding our rings and watches and cell phones when in public.  We hide our wallets and our purses. We hide behind other friends, just to be able to go Christmas shopping.  We were told “not to shop alone.”  We soon found out that even hiding in our own homes wasn’t safe anymore, as armed thugs now follow us home, where they beat, rob and rape.

We have tried it all.  We have run and we have hidden.  Now is the time to move on to the next logical step in survival, the FIGHT.  We need to fight against the moral decay we see springing up all around us.  We need to fight back against the culture of criminality.  We need to retake our inner cities.  We need to hold the criminal element accountable.  We need to deal decisively with those suffering from addiction and mental illness.  Most importantly, we need to confront the liberal policies being crammed down our throats by anti-cop, pro-criminal politicians, district attorneys, judges, and the liberal law enforcement administrators who help in facilitating the madness.

Don’t misunderstand my words.  I am not referring to physically fighting.  I am talking about the way a civilized society fights back, with their vote. We fight with our words.  We show up at public meetings. We make our voices heard.  We decide here and now to take our lives back from those who would destroy us. To do anything less is to admit our inability to protect what we hold most dear.  It is to admit failure.

To borrow a quote from Mother Jones, I have decided to “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” (1925).

Who is with me?

Mike Bornman

Michael Bornman, Captain (ret) LA County Sheriff’s Department, 36 years of service. Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, Bachelor’s Degree in English, Associate’s Degree in Police Science.


  1. Excellent article! We have tried appeasement and capitulation to criminals and their horrible activities. Obviously these “run and hide” tactics have succeeded only in emboldening criminals and increasing crime rates. It’s now time to “fight’ the politicians, DAs, Judges, and law enforcement administrators who refuse to hold criminals accountable for their crimes. Thank you Captain Mike Bornman (Ret.) for this informative piece — we are with you!

  2. As the City of Los Angeles embarks upon a nationwide search for a successor Police Chief, the criteria to confront the current breakdown in prosecution and lack of consequential penalties for criminal convictions in California must concurrently be corrected. This requires voter approval to restore law and order. The Governor Newsom should support these efforts as well as Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon. If not, Newsom will disassociate from Gascon, and Gasocon’s political baggage, in preparation for Newsom’s bid for higher office.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.