DODGE THE DRAMA; PREVENT THE TRAUMA
Violent protests and riots seem to be occurring in greater frequency now than in the decades since the 1970s, adding yet another credible and growing threat to our list of things to watch out for. With people's patience being tested on so many levels— and social media, political and social organizations, and mainstream news outlets fanning the flames of vituperative opposition that reduces open discourse to name-calling and hate speech—many fingers are already firmly on figurative triggers. Where we used to learn and grow and maybe even convert the occasional listener with the give and take of honest and open dialogue, sharing an opinion today is often the first step down the path toward a heated argument … or worse.
“Traditional” anxieties about the world in which we live are compounded by escalating concerns about our national and personal safety, financial stability and the erosion of basic rights. With all these frazzled nerves, we’re living in a sort of domestic, or even localized, “Cold War.” Many people are waiting for the smallest sign of something they feel vaguely threatened by or don’t like as a justification to strike out on one level or another.
This social friction makes it easier to gather like-minded people together to protest actions and issues that bother or threaten them; hence the increase in these events. And the increasing tendency to "think" with one’s often misguided and misinformed emotions—instead of employing logic in these circumstances—makes it more likely that these gatherings will disintegrate into episodes of civil disobedience and lawless rampages.
Because most of us spend a fair amount of time away from home, this situation can have a significant effect on how we make our way through the day. We need to be more mindful of the topics that are causing strife in the areas we travel through and to.
Doing this will help us become more attuned to the warning signs for potentially dangerous gatherings and situations. It will also enable us to ensure we leave home with the appropriate gear and mindset if we have to venture into potential hotspots, as well as prompt us to seek alternate routes if we have no choice but to enter areas of concern.
In scenarios such as this, we can’t over-emphasize the importance of becoming a “gray” man or woman. As you read in “Reducing the Risk of Riots” by Larry Schwartz, staying below the radar—everyone’s radar—will be essential for your safety and ability to get home at the end of the day. In addition, knowing the areas you’ll be moving through, as well as the optional routes and relatively safe places available along each path, might make the difference between a horrific experience and a success story.
As you evaluate your situation and your options, remember the little things that can have a big impact on your safe movement.
I have gotten into the habit of suggesting that people peel those cute stickers off their vehicle windows that show an inventory, as well as the genders and potential ages, of the families that ride inside so they don’t provide these details for miscreants. If parking your car “nose out” for quick egress would draw attention, find a spot in the lot or garage that gives you an advantage of another sort—such as against a wall or fence or near and between the elevator and stairs.
As always, the best solution will be to know your potential enemy as completely as possible so you have a decent chance of anticipating and avoiding their actions.