▼How To Dodge OR Survive Terrorism (5)▼
Having spent the last several days in an ICU with a friend who's very ill, I was — well — not surprised to learn New York City suffered a terrorist attack. This is precisely what the series deals with.
As a proud and fearless New Yorker, I believe the best way to fight terrorism is to outsmart terrorism.
To survive multi-method terror attacks today, 4 assets must be in a continual state of improvement: Your Security Awareness, Creativity/Resourcefulness; Reaction Time and Body-System Integrity; plus your lightning ability to silence a mobile phone, and NEVER be distracted by one in the first place.
Speaking of smartphones, the impulse to film or record things will get you killed. And while I address crowds further below, survival as in the tragedy below, comes from what boxers call, range control. Remember: Distance is safety. Proximity is danger. 'Can't strike from a distance? Don't get close.
You can enrich businesses by buying expensive high-tech anti-terror gear. Like hardcore terror groups such as the Taliban though, low tech is really all you need. The rest is mental. BUT, do read #5 further below. Also, two questions to objectively answer to ensure this article is even worth your time: How badly do you really want to cheat death, live, go back to your family, loved ones and enjoy dreams or unfinished business you have in the works? Second, how agile, versatile and decisive are you?
More than your ego, your answer will predict — if not your survivability — your ability to dodge Terrorism, which is what I focus my practice and research on. For the same reason the best defensive boxer ever built his success on avoiding career-diminishing and career-ending fights in the ring.
It's a mindset. Some choose to walk into terror incidents (which I define very broadly) unawares. Smarter people avoid them altogether. That's why in this series, I use the unfortunate, even fatal mistakes of others to underscore the cost of taking life casually in this age of terror. So leave the political, academic, Social Media trolls and armchair critics and their talk about what works and doesn't, or how the Iraq War(s) made terrorism worse — stupid waste of time, I know — and let's get to work! The following Threat Smart principles are rules I personally live by, teach; know to work. And combined with the videos, hyperlinked images, text and other content here, can save lives:Terrorism is a fight. And whatever the definitions, unless you've signed up, it's NOT your fight.
This, practically and fundamentally, is a vital, defensive mindset. Not a morally apathetic principle. And rooted in pragmatism, my purposely broad, inflexible, yet easy to understand definition of terrorism is the idea that:
You either want a constructive life experience, or you want a destructive life experience. And terror, for our purposes, is everything falling under destructive. Perhaps based on YOUR definition too?Funny or not, for some people, it may be relationships.
And for others, complete clarity regarding who they are — and they allow no room for nuance — in the context of terror, survivability, what constitutes “destructive” and ultimately, their destiny.IF you UNDERSTAND, embrace, and concede that “constructive” is your most desirable default, your awareness of Terrorism, and inner counter-terrorism compass should next mandate: “Right time. Right place. Right people.” thinking. Or put differently:
Most people die when “terror strikes” because whatever the valid justifications, they're simply at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong people.
Don't get defensive. THiNK(!) Let it marinate for a year. If that's how much time is required. But I'm speaking from experience here. Too esoteric? Consider what connects these examples:
Migrant boat catches fire and explodes.
Stories & fatal Mediterranean migrant crossings.
Dangerous immigration in through Latin America.
African students being beaten to death and/or hospitalized after racist mob attacks in India.
American student Otto Frederick Warmbier arrested and sentenced to hard labor in North Korea.
Whether violent or not, your self-preservation and security instincts should lead you to categorize the potentially “destructive” as terrorism and, avoid it. Problem is, most people don't think that way. And by the way, if this rationale sounds “weird” to you, world-renowned risk-taker, salesman and entrepreneur Grant Cardone, holds similar views and used it to get out of a jam. Remember, we're talking about BOTH how to dodge, and/or, when confronted with violence or worse, a terror attack, how to survive terrorism. And naïveté, or indecision, and cluelessness are not friends of survival. Taking #1 and 2 seriously naturally leads you to topnotch, ever-evolving Problem Sensitivity skills, which is your best defensive asset against threats.
Not all fights are worth your while. And most people die because they lack Problem Sensitivity, and with that, the good judgment to mitigate or completely negate their exposure to the “destructive”.
Iyanla Vanzant once drew laughter on one of Oprah's shows when she said: “If you see crazy coming, cross the street!” And of course, that's the funny side of Problem Sensitivity. Nevertheless, one has to answer these two questions very objectively: How good am I at reading people and predicting ominous situations? Do I really even have a good track record? Because if you don't, you need to quickly update your circle before you end up a casualty.
Problem Sensitivity by definition, is the situationally-aware and well-informed individual or professional's “ability to sense if something is wrong or if something is likely to go wrong. Law enforcement and correctional officers rely on this skill when patrolling neighborhoods or interacting with individuals. This skill involves the ability to sense that a situation is going to deteriorate or worsen, to recognize the symptoms of a physical problem requiring first aid, or to sense that an individual has a problem even if he or she insists that everything is all right”. So says the Florida CJBAT (i.e., Criminal Justice Basic Abilities Test) Tutorial, and I concur.
In fact, right next to my original article on the subject (five years ago) atop google search results is a good list of professions you and I depend on that require Problem Sensitivity. From Surgeons, Nuclear Engineers, Air Traffic Controllers, Airline Pilots, Copilots, Flight Engineers, Police Officers and more. Now imagine how many more fatalities, plane crashes and botched surgeries we'd have if ONLY people who lacked this skill and sensibility chose that profession.
Behind almost every tragic or gruesome news headline is a failure to identify, understand and mitigate a threat. Most people assume remediation or dealing with a threat is the same as avoiding it altogether. But even that decision to roll the dice, is choosing a fight. One you may not win.
No matter what politicians and nationalists say about not allowing terrorists to rule us with fear, being repeatedly attracted to crowded places, sticking around or vacationing in, or being ignorant of favorite terror targets, is a decision. A decision to not avoid a fight. To not avoid the destructive.
The Clutha Pub Tragedy in Scotland for example, like the recent Manchester Arena Bombing, or others before like the Orlando Nightclub Shooting that claimed 49 innocent lives are sadly examples of being at the wrong place at the wrong time and getting entangled in an unfair fight you didn't initiate. One that quickly escalates to a fight for your life.
There's better security in sipping a pint and chatting with friends at home. But of course, nobody tells you that. Because it doesn't sound sexy and hyper enough. Or more accurately, only mentally tough people with nothing to prove like 111-year-old “whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking supercentenarian” and American World War II veteran Richard Overton, get it.
As one teenage commenter quipped: I can't get a text back yet he's that old and even has a girlfriend.
Problem Sensitivity is a transferable skill, sensibility and lifestyle choice with embedded security and inoculation against falling prey to terror, as broadly defined above. And durable fighters and survivors alike possess it. And guess what, those who perfect it, find it saves and prolongs lives.
Problem Sensitivity will shield you from very messy situations, time-wasters, sideways people and detractors having nothing positive or constructive to contribute to your goals and dreams; and relevantly, from unstable or dangerous people. In this case, terrorists, active shooter incidents, stabbers, criminals, etc. People whose simple “let's go” here or there could spell your doom.Problem Sensitivity has its limits. But it's next extension also, is mental. Ask yourself:
How elusive can I train myself to be?
Fat or not, you don't want to be a rhino in a terror attack. Apart from their priced unicorns, there's a good reason they are almost extinct. And that is, they are clumsy. Very clumsy. And therefore very easy to poach. Make it a habit to NOTICE things others don't. From (possible) escape routes in places you frequent as well as new venues to how things work in different stations or on trains.
I once laughed out loud and had to apologize on a train because of the opening sentence in a Foreign Policy magazine reading: “Terrorism is on the mind of the average Chinese citizen these days...” Hong Kongers are better at this. But needless to say, it's one thing to be preoccupied with a threat, even an ambition and quite another to be able to survive it. Which is why properly studied, naturally evasive geniuses like Floyd Mayweather Jr. can teach you insights on surviving or dodging terrorism.
In Mainland China where I'd been living for over a decade, clumsiness and slow reaction — the last liabilities one needs in an emergency situation or in a terror incident — remains commonplace. So commonplace I have digressed in several of my writings just to share an anecdote.
Your ability to survive a terror incident may hinge on not getting mixed up with, or bogged down by people who generally aren't used — like Hong Kongers, Japanese, New Yorkers, Parisians and other economies and cultures ARE — to thinking quick on their feet. Indeed like natural disasters, seconds/milliseconds are all it takes to make the wrong move and wind up dead. Walking down the street while engrossed in your mobile phone may seem normal to you. But whether your back is facing oncoming traffic — which it never must, especially at night or in today's multi-method terror attack threatscape — anytime, you won't have time to react. Further, and revisiting #2 above, “Right time. Right place. Right people.” thinking also means having a “Get In, Get Out” mindset approach to shopping and running errands. Because sticking around exposes you when in fact there's better security in being elusive through obscurity, as we say in InfoSec.
Know your weaknesses. Make contingencies. Study self-defense. Watch lots of videos. Both in this series and on your own. From Boxing in particular, to MMA. Including videos that teach you how to keep your ego in check. Because being a hero is not the point.
The point is to know when to lie low, blend in, move with lightning speed, or simply out-wait, outlast, outfox, outrun terrorists, or simply assemble and inspire a team of nimble and determined strangers to outmaneuver and completely subdue terrorists. Indeed even in almost crime-free Japan, where law enforcement struggle to find something — anything — to do, one has to go way back to 1985 and the infamous Sarin Gas Attack to find terrorism.
Despite their best efforts, Counter-terrorism and law enforcement cannot always predict the next terror incident or venue. And although the average person subconsciously relies on the authorities for security, the topnotch Problem Sensitivity brain, like the tiger's or iguana's, is highly self-reliant.If you want to be in the best position to survive a terror attack, you must be in shape and KNOW how to fight or quickly end fights; how to hold your ground; how to improvise and create weapons out of nothing (this requires a lifetime of fostered creativity that can't really be taught), and how to go for the jugular. With, or without help. Failing that, it never hurts to know, have, and update your ultimate disaster/emergency survival toolkit as necessary (click below).The videos in the series address this. However I must emphasize: #5 should not be taken lightly. Like U.S. Secretary of Defense Rt. Gen. James Mattis I share this view, coincidentally — not because I was in the U.S. Army: “Be polite, be professional, BUT be PREPARED to kill everybody you meet.” I also believe that, despite your best efforts or mine, when death comes, it comes. Nuance that separates humans from animals vis-à-vis our intelligence. Further, one is better off relocating entirely than sticking around and having to neutralize repeated threats. Always factor in the likelihood of terrorism and crime in choosing where you live, and what protests, rallies, parties or concerts you attend.
Threat Smart XVIII