As Bilbo Baggins cautioned, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.”
Unfortunately, the world outside our door can be a dangerous place, and we would all be wise to observe Bilbo’s caution. Regardless of where you live, what you do or who you are, there may be evil people who want to do you, your family or your community harm. Most of us spend a lifetime without having to look evil in the eye, and I sincerely hope you never do, but if you ever hope to defend yourself you must first accept that bad people are out there and you may have to confront them some day. “But, I’m a good person”, you say. “I would never hurt anyone, so why would they wish to harm me?”
Well, it has nothing to do with you. All sorts of good, honest, caring, religious people are assaulted, robbed or killed every single day, and it wasn’t their fault. They weren’t looking for trouble. It found them, and in most cases, they were taken completely by surprise and weren’t able to react in time to save themselves. I’m reminded of the news report where a woman who was carjacked as part of a police pursuit was being interviewed. She kept saying, “Why me? I’m a good person. I didn’t do anything wrong. I live in a nice neighborhood. I don’t know this man. Why did he do this to me?”
Denial, before or after the fact, won’t save you. The key is acceptance that the world is a dangerous place, and you may have to deal with bad people. This awareness is the first step in developing a personal defensive mindset. But, you say, I don’t want to think that or be suspicious of people. And that’s fine, you don’t need to be paranoid but I maintain if you’re interested in developing a defensive mindset you must first be aware.
Next, you must be alert. As I used to tell my Border Patrol agents during briefings, “You can’t possibly defend yourself if you don’t see it coming. Be alert!” Instead of walking down the street staring at your cell phone, keep your head up and your eyes moving. Predators want easy prey, and they are unlikely to choose you if you are alert. See what’s going on around you and be on the lookout for potential danger.
If you’re aware the local bar has a reputation for violent fights, is that where you want to be at closing on Saturday night? Notice if someone is paying attention to or following you. Avoid letting people come up to you from behind. When you enter a store or an office, take a quick look around. If something gets your attention, find out what’s going on before proceeding or simply leave. When you arrive home, take a moment to scan the area as you approach. Does everything look okay? Is there something you should pay attention to? An open door? a broken window?
Start building your defensive mindset now. Acceptance that the world is a dangerous place, awareness and alertness all work together, and they are your foundation. Be alert!