Situational Awareness

In my last post, ‘Three Crimes’, I left you the reader with a red herring when I asked at the end “where is the justice in the matters concerning these three crimes?”

To begin with justice in both civil and criminal law cases is relevant only as it applies to the prosecution of the crime.

The first two crimes I presented weren’t crimes per se as they were never prosecuted. But both still constituted criminal acts.

The third crime was not just prosecuted but was prosecuted to the [absurdly] full extent of the law. True, it was a crime of egregious stupidity but it shouldn’t have warranted the idiot involved to be prosecuted as a sex offender.

What I propose is that we look at the crimes once again but instead of arguing the relative merits of justice between the three let’s instead look at the differences from a more pragmatic standpoint.

Let’s look at each case from a self-preservation perspective and how in the first two cases there was a high degree of situational awareness present that diffused a bad situation and turned it from something scarily worse into something much more benign.

In the first case we have my friend who commits a minor fender-bender while mildly under the influence of alcohol. The accident – though technically his fault – was more as a result of poor zoning; meaning that the driveway to the restaurant emptied with less than a hundred feet onto that of a very busy intersection.

That said. My friend, after the minor collision, acted calmly and prudently. He knew that the police were quickly going to arrive on the scene. He immediately surveyed the situation and then acted accordingly.

First, he established for a matter of record that no one was hurt. Second, he needed to purge himself of the one damning piece of evidence he was holding – the marijuana joint. Third, he thought it prudent that by drinking a large glass of water before the inevitable breathalyzer test that he might somewhat reduce the alcohol retained in his tissues and thus lower his score.

He correctly excused himself from the scene by announcing to the passengers in the other car that he was returning to the restaurant to telephone the police to file an accident report.

Every action he took demonstrated a high degree of situational awareness.

Let’s look at the next case involving another friend who ended up in a face off with his neighbor and two deputy sheriffs while carrying a concealed weapon.

First, from what I understand in that rural part of the US – anything can happen. There is a saying, “Never take a knife to a gunfight.” So my friend was packing a pistol because he had no idea what he was going to encounter once he reached the road. Was his neighbor packing a gun? Was his neighbor carrying a baseball bat or a knife? He didn’t know so he thought the pistol was prudent. That part of the country believes it is better to be armed and not need a gun than to be unarmed and need one.

The fact that two deputy sheriffs were there changed the calculus. My friend reacted accordingly and spoke calmly and reassuringly to the officers meanwhile keeping the pistol he had hidden in the back of his trousers out of the possibly revealing glare of the squad car’s headlights.

He diffused a potentially deadly situation by appropriately reacting calmly to that of the newly evolved situation. In such he not just demonstrated but acted on his situational awareness. And BTW – the barking dog problem ended that night.

Last. The third case. My work colleague – by contrast – demonstrated a complete lack of situational awareness. He assumed somehow that because the parking lot was mostly empty that he didn’t need to be paying attention to his surroundings.

If he would have been situationally aware he would have positioned himself to first see the woman before she saw him. Instead she startled him, he overreacted, and the rest is history.

PS – I’ve preached over and over to my daughter just how important and sometimes what a lifesaver being situationally aware can be. Always look into your car before getting in. Park in areas that have a high traffic of people. Upon entering your house or apartment look to see if anything is out of place. Never wear headphones while biking or running. Do so and you’ve reduced your sensory feedback to only visual.

In public places if something seems suspicious it warrants caution. I’ve gotten off the train in Washington, DC on more than one occasion – interrupting my commute – because someone at the last stop had boarded the train who didn’t feel right to me.

Always listen to your intuition. Your subconscious sees everything. All intuition really is is your subconscious mind spilling over into your conscious mind. So if you sense something is wrong, it is highly probable that your subconscious is alerting your conscious mind with a danger sign.

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