This used to be a non-issue but now it is.
I've been working security at nightclubs/festivals/events etc. for many years as a second job for extra income. I am now querying whether it is Right Livelihood. Perhaps some of you may be surprised that this issue didn't arise earlier. It did, and was justified/rationalised. Now the inquiry has become more searching and infused with more conviction.
The nature of the work involves dealing the effects of (rather than dealing in) intoxicants. The manifestation of the work sometimes necessitates the use of force on people. For the purposes of this post I consider force as ANY touching of someone, rather than any sort of shoving, compliance holds etc.
Before discovering the dhamma, there were occasions when the intention behind the use of force was to assert ego or to alleviate feelings of anger towards someone who had wronged/disrespected me as security. Power-tripping of sorts. There was too much 'me' in the job. Fortunately this force never resulted in serious injury to anyone, and this phase didn't last and was quite a while back.
A combination of having the unacceptability of this approach made clear and realising it for myself led to the intention of using force now being only where necessary to prevent harm to myself, the person on whom the force was being used, others, property or when it was necessary to effect compliance and reasonable verbal efforts had failed. Only then, it's the minimal and appropriate amount necessary to effect something such as a separation of groups, an ejection from the venue or to prevent harmful or obstructive actions from continuing. The nature of the use of force is always specific to the circumstances and to a large extent cannot be prescribed for every possible situation.
I am dealing with actions or speech borne of minds affected by the intoxicants. Those so affected usually have impaired perception, awareness and judgment - from my perspective, of course, which is subjective. So when I'm preventing a guy getting off the floor because he's sustained a head injury, needs to remain in position and medical assistance is on the way, but is high on drugs so doesn't realise it and is trying to get up and insists he's fine, I have no problem with using appropriate force in this situation, for example. Where I have to grab someone who has run past a restricted area and it's really not safe for them to be there, maybe that's a greyer area.
But it's important to ensure that my own perception awareness and judgment are not poisoned by the kilesas - in every aspect of life, but maybe more so when I'm using force or directly intervening in the affairs of others in this context, almost on their behalf, since they'll suffer due to my own kilesas. Here my practice has helped immensely. When an intention arises which is not wholesome and may result in use of force, I can check it and restrain myself. There will always be grey areas, of course, and cultivation of patience and compassion is probably one of the best things someone in this industry can do to do their job well. Unfortunately there are still situations that REALLY do test you.
Now, even if I never laid a hand on someone, would this role be 'Right Livelihood' by virtue of involvement with an industry/scene that involves the sale of alcohol? The drug situation is such that people will procure drugs outside the venue and effect them into their system before arrival (or whilst in the venue - whereupon they are immediately removed and the drugs confiscated and destroyed). I appreciate the paradox between taking a hard line on one intoxicant and not another, but that's the nature of the proscription of some intoxicants and not others, and its resultant effect on licensing conditions, of which I am paid in part to ensure compliance with.
I am not selling alcohol nor condoning consumption of intoxicants. I am, however, monitoring people who are doing so or have done so and intervening where necessary to prevent harm, even if that means using force. Some have medical emergencies as a result which require urgent attention. The industry is such that if they didn't do it here, they'd do it somewhere else, and I'm at least trying to mitigate the harmful effects on those people and others, and protect those who are not adversely affected and wish to enjoy themselves.
So is this a black and white issue, with a yes or no? Should I consider exiting the industry entirely?