I’m not sure how to say this in a politically correct way, so I won’t bother: We live in a world of evil, stupidity, and ignorance. There. I said it. Not that there isn’t beauty, love, joy, and happiness in equal and offsetting amounts. It’s just that there’s a definite “ying” and “yang” to the universe that demands your constant attention.
I was reminded of this yesterday as the person driving in front of me slowed suddenly, and dangerously, as he/she reached around to swing at their kids and I was forced to slam on the brakes…one example of frequent “distracted driver” incidents involving cell phones, food, or makeup. People in general tend to focus on themselves and their own interests, with varying degrees of awareness and empathy towards those around them. There are few willing to “give you the shirt off their back”. Most have an “I won’t touch your shirt if you don’t touch mine” attitude, while a few others will try to steal your shirt from you.
Recognize that villainy exists in the world as well, not just on TV. A recent cable internet transaction with an aggressive sales person resulted in our losing money on a cheap, poor performing internet modem (not illegal, but I submit we were victimized). I once drove through the infamous “wrong place, wrong time” and found myself carjacked by an armed drug dealer. The Bureau of Justice Statistics recently published that 2 in 1,000 women experienced sexual violence in 2010. In 78% of cases the attacker was a family member, intimate partner, friend, or acquaintance. In 2012, the National Crime Information Center recorded 661,593 missing juvenile reports, and 87,217 of those remained open as of January 1, 2013. There is a real Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) at the FBI, where they profile monsters just as bad as those portrayed on “Criminal Minds”.
Live defensively…please! I’m not suggesting you join the NRA or retreat to a cloistered nunnery. What I hope you will do is arm yourself with awareness.
- Know your environment; assess your surroundings, look for “escape routes”, research a new area before setting foot there. You’ll learn the fundamentals of awareness in driver’s education, but apply those skills of anticipation broadly.
- Understand the motivations of your friends and co-workers, and your own attitudes toward them. Attempting to learn as much as possible about people you associate with is not only good defense, it allows you to identify opportunities for interactions that build positive, strong relationships with quality people.
- Develop the skills required for “situational awareness”, the ability to perceive and understand environmental events and project their meaning through all possible outcomes, allowing you to take action before bad things happen. There are training courses available in SA for pilots, law enforcement, medical, and military professions.
- Help your friends to understand the value of awareness and a defensive mindset. I always knew I could count on my buddy Mike to watch my back when we were out. Who do you have watching yours?
Hopefully you won’t think of me as a paranoid parent after reading this missive, though I’m sure I’ve acted as such many times. I only share these thoughts from my own experience in hopes that you’ll develop situational awareness and avoid becoming a statistic.