Briefing Room: Pay Attention, People!

Many people in this country are so easily distracted by what’s not important I’m convinced they have ADD.

Here’s a just a sampling of recent headlines that should have gotten everyone concerned, but went largely ignored:

  • Clintons sell uranium to Russia.
  • Tensions rise in Persian Gulf; Navy to escort U.S. ships through Strait of Hormuz.
  • Death toll in Nepal earthquake rises above 8,000.
  • Five corrections officers injured during prison disturbance in Pennsylvania.
  • At least 20 officers injured during Baltimore riots.
  • ISIS claims responsibility for shooting at Texas Muhammad cartoon contest.

Instead, as people scroll down on their laptops, tablets and phones, their reaction is, “Oh, look! Kittens!”

I’m not into conspiracy theories, but could this be by design? It certainly would not be the first time the general public was misled and didn’t pay attention. Martin Niemöller’s famous quote stands in mute testament to that fact.

Actually, however, it goes far beyond not keeping up with the news—it’s situational awareness in general that I’m talking about.

A week ago, I watched two uniformed officers eating at a local diner, seated with their backs to the door and the rest of the restaurant. Both were totally absorbed with texting on their cell phones. I have seen the same behavior by normal Earth people at restaurants, gas stations, in parking lots, and other public venues.

An old adage says, “Go looking for trouble and you’ll probably find it.” On the other hand, if you’re not looking for trouble, it may still find you—but when you least expect it. The best strategies are first, avoid a potentially deadly situation, and second, if you do somehow end up in one, escape if at all possible.

Look for secondary exit points, because the one you entered by may be blocked. In Killeen, Texas in 1991, when a crazed gunman crashed his pickup truck into a Luby’s Cafeteria and began shooting (ultimately 43 people were shot), only one man thought to crash through a window—and by doing so created an escape route for other people. That man was thinking on his feet and undoubtedly saved lives.

The world is a dangerous place and a bit of situational awareness can—Oh, look! Kittens!

Until next time, stay low and watch your back.

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