Our research this past summer among Afghan refugees in Athens, Greece took us into parts of town which some would consider unsafe.
Part of our training involved traveling in pairs and consciously applying “Situational Awareness” to minimize our personal risk.
The lessons we learned apply anywhere and everywhere, and can equip us mentally and practically to follow Jesus into places which others will avoid out of fear.
The following excerpt reflects the understanding we received in Greece.
You may find the full article worth reading.
Perhaps the most important factor affecting a person’s reaction to a life-threatening incident is their mindset going into the situation. As we have previously noted when discussing situational awareness, the way the brain is wired makes it very difficult for a person to go from a state of being “tuned out” and completely unaware of what is going on around them to a state of high alert. When confronted by such a jump, it is not uncommon for people to freeze, go into shock and become totally unable to respond to the situation confronting them. This type of panic-induced paralysis can be extremely deadly, and at that point the only hope of surviving an incident is sheer luck or divine providence. People in such a state can do nothing to save themselves.
Another factor of this mindset is the need for people to recognize that there are bad people in the world who want to hurt innocent people, and that they could be potential targets. This means that people must not only practice situational awareness but also trust their gut when they feel something isn’t quite right. Denial can be a very dangerous thing when it overrides or rationalizes away gut feelings of danger. Over my former careers as a special agent and corporate security officer, I have interviewed numerous people who allowed denial to override suspicious indicators they noted, and who then proceeded to do things that resulted in their victimization — all because they had the mindset that they could not possibly become victims. These situations ranged from a mugging victim, who thought there was something odd about the way three guys on the corner looked at her, to the kidnapping victim who spotted the deployed abduction team but proceeded into the attack zone anyway because he thought the team would target someone with more money than his family had. In shooting situations, I have spoken with victims who did not realize that shots were actually being fired and instead dismissed them as pranks or fireworks. I have seen media reports of similar remarks from witnesses regarding recent shooting incidents, such as the July 20 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. In short, denial is deadly.
By practicing the proper level of situational awareness and understanding the possibility of being targeted, a person will be mentally prepared to realize that an attack is happening — something we call attack recognition. The earlier a target recognizes the attack, the better. In the kidnapping case noted above, the victim recognized the attack before it was sprung, and could have avoided a long (and costly) hostage ordeal, had he taken immediate action to avoid the attack site. As we have mentioned repeatedly, criminal and terrorist attacks do not appear out of a vacuum. Instead, they are part of a planning process that can be recognized if one is looking for it. We have also noted over the years that criminals and terrorists tend to be very bad at camouflaging their actions, and their suspicious demeanors often leave them vulnerable to early detection.
This portion of When Things Go Bad is republished with permission of Stratfor.