Situational Awareness... a lifesaving skill
Advance copy: Jupiter Courier - September 2017
In April 2015, I wrote an editorial entitled “To fear is human… and wise.” That editorial was an extended version of another editorial I had written on the same subject a year earlier. Here I am, two years later, still writing on the same topic. Why? Because people are unwilling to assume responsibility for their own safety for fear of being labeled they are not.
After the destruction of the World Trade Center, the FBI asked all Americans to report any activity that appeared out of the norm… activity that could be a threat to our great country and its citizens. I happened to be visiting family in Goodyear, Arizona at that time. My husband and I were staying in a hotel located just a few miles from the largest and most powerful nuclear power plant in this country. We were also just a few miles from Luke Air Force Base.
Returning to our hotel one afternoon, I overheard a very agitated man loudly talking on a public telephone. He was obviously of Middle Eastern descent and had a heavy accent. Although most of his conversation was in what I later learned was Dari, he did speak English when saying “nuclear” and “Luke Air Force Base.” I grew concerned. When he walked away, I saw a piece of paper on the floor below the phone he was using. I picked it up and, using my computer, traced the number to Afghanistan. Dari is the most widely spoken of Afghanistan’s official languages. I immediately called the Phoenix office of the FBI as I was asked to do by the leaders of my country. When I told certain friends and acquaintances of my decision, I was accused of overreacting.
Fast forward to the Boston Marathon bombing. Most journalists encouraged us to “… not be afraid” and to “… return to normal life” which, in their opinion, would be a slap in the face to terrorists. This is the same message we are being spoon fed now by the media despite the continued loss of life around the world, especially in Europe. Truthfully, I have no desire to slap terrorists in the face. I want to eliminate them by whatever means necessary so that we really do NOT need to be afraid. We must stop walking around with our heads in a cloud pretending that all is right with the world.
Let’s not forget: Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin, London, Stockholm, Normandy and Barcelona.
We are not immune here at home. Remember: Little Rock, Arkansas; Fort Hood, Texas; Moore, Oklahoma; Queens, New York; Brooklyn, New York; Garland, Texas; San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida; St. Cloud, Minnesota; and Columbus, Ohio… just to name a few incidents that were actually reported.
A healthy dose of fear is what makes us aware of the fragility of life. To quote Benjamin Disraeli, “Fear makes us feel our humanity.” If we, as a society are not yet feeling fear, I shudder to think just how little the lives that have been lost really mean to us. Are our memories so short that we mourn only until the next concert, vacation, or special event beckons us to turn a blind eye to who and what is happening around us?
There is a huge difference between healthy fear and panic. Panic immobilizes. It freezes our brains so that we cannot think beyond the moment. Panic dominates, making reason and logic impossible. Fear, on the other hand, is our inner warning system – gut instinct so to speak. It keeps us on our toes and heightens our senses. It protects us at times when we least expect to need protection. But gut instinct is not enough, especially if we have allowed the fear of labels to prevent us from acknowledging the voice in our heads and the feeling of queasiness in the pit of our stomachs.
If we are to retain our liberties and freedoms, we must learn the finer points of situational awareness. We must take responsibility for our own safety. No government can protect everyone at all times. We were all born with five senses. Use them when out in public. Unfortunately, the most important sense… the one which few people seem to have… is common sense. Compensate by learning the finer skills of situational awareness.
To ignore that fear has a place in our lives is to ignore that danger is all around us. Rather than professing that we are not afraid, let’s acknowledge that we are and rightly so. Then, let’s choose to temper our fear by using the tools that were given to each of us at birth. Follow your gut. Become an expert at using ALL of your senses. Embrace situational awareness. Do not ignore fear because to do so will continue to allow our enemies to sneak up from behind and kill innocent people by whatever means is available to them. They are very smart. We must be smarter!