My master often mentions the principles of alertness and awareness when he talks about martial spirit. As an assistant Scoutmaster, I stressed the same ideas to the Scouts. What I observe, however, is that many of us in the human race are forgetting the importance of those principles. From distracted driving, to obliviously texting while walking, to dropping your guard too much at social occasions even when you think you are with friends, we are forgetting the need to remain alert about who is around us and what is happening and aware of potential hazards that might arise.
Today I watched the shooter’s video of his murder of the news people in Franklin County, Virginia. I watched it because personal safety is my business as a martial arts instructor, and I try to learn and pass on lessons that can be drawn from violent events. It struck me watching this video that the murderer approached fairly close and had his gun out and pointed at the people for many seconds before he opened fire. They did not notice the situation until he opened fire. They were busy interviewing and videoing the interview. It is probably part of their training as news people to concentrate on the job at hand an ignore things going on around them, probably not when covering a civil disturbance, but maybe when doing a story on tourism by a lake in rural Virginia. Even the person being interviewed, who is not a professional journalist, did not appear to notice the man approaching with the pointed gun.
News people should be able to do a story on tourism without worrying about someone coming up to them and shooting them. A young college woman should be able to drink a bit too much and still safely walk the sidewalks of a college town. Passengers on a DC subway or a European train should be able to relax on their journey and not worry if someone is going to shoot or stab them. People in a church ought to be able to conduct their Bible study also free from such fears. A Congresswoman ought to be able to meet with constituents in a shopping center without someone murdering those around her. The world ought to be a safe place for all of us. It isn’t.
The odds are slim, but real, that at almost any time and place about three seconds might separate any of us from life as usual and total mayhem. Whether it’s a distracted, aggressive or incompetent driver or a terrorist on the train or a poisonous snake on the hiking trail or candle too close to a curtain or an obstacle on the sidewalk, we need to be alert and aware of our surroundings.
In a potentially violent situation, say a person with a drawn gun approaching, we have just seconds to decide what do to: run and try to evade, take cover and hide or take counteraction against the threat. (Freezing in place in not a decision but indecision.) Being alert and aware will give you a bit more time to decide the best course. It might make the difference between life or death.