Like most of you I was deeply affected by the news of the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon. With every violent attack that we witness we ask more questions: Why is this happening? How could someone do something so violent to innocent people including children? How can we recognize this type of a threat when we see it or before it happens? How can we stop the violence? How can we feel safer?
Much like when 9/11 occurred I imagine that many of the countries who see violence like this on a more regular basis once again looked at the U.S. and thought, welcome to our world. Not to disrespect or detract from the seriousness (or sadness) of the situation that happened in Boston, but many other countries experience attacks like that or worse on a much more regular basis than seen here in the US.
As I thought about these things, it reminded me of the first time I brought in Krav Maga instructor Moshe Katz from Israel a few years back. I picked him up from the airport and figuring that he probably was hungry after his long flight, so I thought he might enjoy some cuisine from his neck of the woods. I took him to Olsta's, a Middle Eastern restaurant in East Grand Rapids, MI.
We walked into the entrance of the restaurant and I picked a table up by the front window near the door to sit at. Upon sitting down I could see by the look on Moshe's face that something was on his mind, so I asked him if something was wrong. It struck me that Moshe being Jewish and from Israel, may not have appreciated me bringing him to a Lebanese restaurant, especially due to the fact that both countries have been to war with each other numerous times and are currently on tenuous grounds with one another. However he assured me that this was not what was on his mind. Then he politely explained to me that if he was in Israel, he would not be sitting by the entrance near the window, because if there were some type of attack we would be at a greater risk of being hurt or killed due to our choice of seating. He went on to tell some stories of tragedy and terrorism in his home land of Israel where cars have driven by a restaurant, store front or house and unloaded a torrant of machine gun fire killing, maiming and injuring innocent civilians; or possibly the vehicle would seemingly nonchalantly park in front of a building only later to explode taking out much of the structure and people that had the unfortunate opportunity of being near the car when it went off. Moshe explained that even with an armed guard at the entrance keeping an eye on things, a suicide bomber could stand near the front of the building and detonate once again taking out both people and property. There were (and are) no shortages of opportunities for violence.
I found this discussion very interesting not only because I am a pretty well traveled and aware guy, but more because of what I do. However in my defense, the typical types of threats that we commonly run into in the U.S. were seemingly vastly different than those that Moshe was more concerned with, at least that is what we want to think.
From personal protection courses to police officers, teachers to students and counselors to parents, we are all looking at a certain criteria for keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe. This criteria has been one based on an entirely different type of engagement to or profile of violence.
Maybe soon reports like the FBI Crime Clock (Below) will begin to include stats on active shooters and suicide bombers?
No longer are these the only types of threats that we run into here in the States. Active shooters, suicide bombers, and others who most often can not be negotiated with have become the forefront of our news here in the U.S. lately. So much so that we have been forced to re-evaluate how we view, identify, prevent, engage and deal with other types of threats and violence around us.
We must continue to shift our focus; to become more aware; to be better protectors, not of just people in our own "tribe" but better protectors of everyone. Manage the behavior, respect the Universal Life Value. However to do this we have to hone our skills to be even better than we already are in everything we do. We have to wear more hats, one of which is first and foremost being an ethical protector.
So, what can we all do right now?
~ Pay attention!
~ Be more aware of what's going on around you
(to do this you also have to be aware of what's going on inside of you!).
~ Look for strange or inconsistent behavior.
~ Look for things that seem out of place, unhealthy or feel wrong.
~ Pay attention to the small details.
~ Early detection and prevention are key to saving lives.
The most difficult thing to embrace while you are doing this is to not lose sight of the ethic. What ethic you ask? Protecting All Life. While we are PROFESSIONALLY dealing with and managing negative and dangerous behavior, we must stay connected with our protector nature and try not to produce more disrespect, hate & ignorance and breed more violence.
That being said, this doesn't mean letting terrorist kill innocent people, nor does it mean that we won't eliminate a threat to protect an innocent life. What it means that we use the least amount of force necessary to protect. And if we do have to take a life, it is a last resort after all other options have been exhausted. We only take life if necessary to save life. We don't do it because of an emotional response or because of hate or de-humanization.
Try to make everyone as safe as they can be under the circumstances. Respond don't react to situations. If we treat Life as a relative value, then our lives are relative too making the "good guys" no better than the "bad guys."
Now, those of you who know me understand that although I am spiritual, I am not a religious man, however I like this passage from the old testament:
"This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live."
As a friend of mine (& ethics expert) Jack Hoban says:
"You better be good because being an ethical protector is risky... But it's a better life."