To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder

A constructive analysis of any literary work including articles, excerpts from books, or stories is a hard and intensive process. A person understands the ideas represented in a primary text through his or her own experience. Basically, a level of this understanding is not based on the complexity of a primary text, but on a level of a person's ability to perceive, understand and then analyze the given facts by means of his or her own intussusceptions. Suchlike analyses give a possibility to draw certain line between the ideas presented in a primary text by an author and the ideas of a reader, and to connect these ideas by intercomparison.

Among various stories, written by Ander Monson, who is an American nonfiction writer and novelist, there is one that deserves a special attention. It is titled "To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder". The given story is of particular interest for analyzing because it presents certain ideas of how to reduce likelihood of murder, which are true but cannot be taken as a guideline to follow in real life due to a wide range of solid reasons. These reasons can be divided into several categories, including psychological and social ones. In the following analysis, the story ideas that should be understood as theoretical ones, will be considered in all their bearings and separately discussed. Moreover, a connection with the practical part, which is a real life based experience of a reader, will be established and also analyzed from a personal perspective in order to understand the very core of the subject.


The short stories of Ander Monson are greatly criticized by world community. The very reason lies in the author's manner of describing essential things from the standpoint of such simplicity that they lose their primary sense and become absurd in real life. However, they still remain meaningful in their theoretical aspect. "To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder" is one of Monson's literary works that causes an immediate reaction of denial. It gives particular instructions that have a potential to help a person to reduce his or her likelihood of murder. They sound quite right, but if to follow each of them, a concept of life that we all know will be erased and transformed, so that a common life we live will turn out to be a sort of prison with a variety of limitations that cannot be broken down. Nobody wants to live such a life.

All the ideas, presented in the story, are based on the concept that I have found very weak and faulty. It states that every single person born on earth is born for the purpose of being killed. Monson claims that we are born for it. This is why we should do whatever it takes to prevent this danger to our life. What is even more interesting is that in the end of the story, the author makes a conclusion, which is the following: even when a person follows all the instructions, stated in the text in order to reduce his or her likelihood of murder, there still remains a possibility to be killed, because our life is like a tree meant to be assorted in any circumstance (Monson, 2005). Nevertheless, the thesis of the further analysis of a suggested story refutes this argument and proves its practical inviability.

Subsequently, Monson's inference contradicts the major idea of the world religions and philosophy of happiness that states that we are all born to be happy. In such a manner, we are not born to be miserable, to be killed or to be done any kind of harm, or to be slaves or to serve any other purpose, containing a negative meaning. Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and other famous philosophers wrote many philosophical tractates that support the idea of happiness as a purpose for human living as well as the texts of holy books do (Haidt, 2006).

Considering a more modern example, an American happiness researcher, whose name is Sonja Lyubomirsky, has presented convincing facts about life and its purpose that fully disclaims Monson's concept. She has proved that more than fifty per cent of a happiness level is genetically determined. The rest depends on a person's thinking, which is if a person thinks positively, he or she lives out life in a positive way, being happy (Lyubomirsky, 2008). In case a person does not think in such a way, he or she is unhappy, and full of fear of everything. This is exactly what Monson's concept reflects. It makes us think of a potential danger to life that is just right over there waiting for us. This is obviously not an example of positive thinking. By the belief-invoked interpretation, described above, it was shown and explained in general of how faulty the basis of the story, and thus all the instructions, meant to reduce likelihood of murder, from the standpoint of Monson.

Going to the analysis of particular ideas, the story titled "To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder" presents that there are a lot of controversial viewpoints regarding likelihood of murder. Manson states that a person should not go outside. Moreover, a person should not go outside alone. It follows as a logical consequence that it is necessary to stay indoors all the time during the whole life. It will surely reduce the likelihood of murder but will never solve the issue, and never help to stay alive, especially if to imagine that someone out there has an intention to kill you. From a personal perspective, this is impractical. A person cannot stay home all the time, believing that if he or she goes outside, he or she will be killed. Moreover, this is a moral pressure if to think this way all the time.

To prove complete wrongness of the idea, here is a good argument. One of the science discipline, called safety of living, has a basic axiom, regarding the subject. It states that there is no such a situation or condition existing in space and time, where there is absolute safety for a human (Doeden, 2012). This statement does not need any further explanation. It fully reflects the thought. At this point, staying at home contains a danger to be killed as well. For example, a person being indoors can easily receive a box sent via post by anyone, and a substance or a thing, which is inside of this box, will kill him or her. A probability of such event equals a similar one of any other event that may happen outdoors. Here goes a conclusion that staying indoors will not reduce the likelihood of murder.

Another idea concerned in the story refers to people who surround us. Basically, it regards to the relationship or any contact with men. Monson states that a person, in this case a girl or woman, should not spend time with men. She should not date men. She should not have friends who are men, and she should not have friends at all. He explains this position in the following way: mostly, women are killed by someone they are acquainted with. This suggestion has a particular sense, because according to statistical police reports, women are killed more by someone they know than by someone they do not know. However, in this case a woman cannot have friends, cannot date men and, as a result, cannot start a family, which is already impudence for the survival of mankind. From another perspective, she is a social human being who lives in society, and this means that she has to communicate with others because it is a necessity for a human being. Therefore, there is no way of refusing social contacts for women as well as for men.

Monson gives an instruction to make your home protected. That is to install alarm systems everywhere, including doors and windows. Then he gives a controversial advice that makes you leave your home. This is confusing and theoretically as well as practically wrong. There is no sense in installing safety protection systems in your home (house or apartment), if you are not going to be there. It proves the axiom of safety of living that states that there is no place where you can be one hundred per cent safe. Moreover, looking at this from a personal perspective, there is no way to decide what to do, because you cannot stay at home for a reason of being killed, and you cannot go outside and be among people because you can be also killed. A danger of murder is not erased or at least reduced in any case.

People are potential murderers, and you should perceive them as those. Theoretically, this is a true statement because generally you cannot know others so well that you can be sure they will not kill you (Buss, 2005). At the same time you cannot think of them this way. However, we can only imagine how a person can live in a society where every single member of it should be perceived as a potential murderer. At this point, you cannot go outside, or if you decide to go, you should wear a kind of a protective suit and carry pepper spray or blowguns in order to be sure that no one can do you any harm. Practically, it looks abnormal.

Even so, Monson supports this idea but disproves it himself by stating that a person should be somewhere where he or she can be heard while screaming in case of danger. If all people in the society are potential murderers, it will be naive to expect help from them. For example, someone tries to steal your purse and kill you. You scream, so that other people hear you and come to help, but then, where is a guarantee that these people will help you and not a person, who tries to kill you. Therefore, it is wrong to perceive people as potential murderers. It will lead to nowhere but confusion and misunderstanding.

The story "To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder" is rather of awareness-raising nature than a practical guideline to follow. Wherever a person is, he or she should be careful and try to foresee potential dangers to life, because a question of safety always remains important. This is the very thought by Monson that should be agreed with. Also, there must be a clear understanding of whether a danger to life is real, or imaginary, so actions taken will not seem as absurd as those suggested in the story.

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