Situational Awareness: Part 5 – Critical Thinking

Part of good Situational Awareness (SA) requires the ability to recognize valid (i.e. true) information. We already know that your SA requires you to establish a baseline and then watch for deviations from that baseline. When you start to see deviations from the baseline then you have to pay particular attention to those events/activities as compared to the baseline.  Once those deviations have been assessed then you have to decide what action is required, if any, to mitigate the potential increased risk or threat.

Without a baseline and the ability to appropriately assess deviations you can be considered “clueless.” Yes, that is a technical term in the SA world! In the world of emergency preparedness, clueless can be fatal. But just as important as part of SA is the ability to take action based on the baseline and deviations thereof. Without being able to take the appropriate action in a timely manner you are not only clueless, but probably dead or badly injured. All parts of SA must work together in synchronization.

The very beginning of the SA process requires a baseline as mentioned. Our baseline in anything will come from a combination of factors; training, experience, culture, and bias just to name a few. All of these, and more, work together in your brain to form a baseline regardless of the situation or environment.

Next comes the ability to correctly recognize and assess sensory input. Sensory input can come in a variety of forms; smell, sight, or words to name a few. For this discussion I want to focus on words. More aptly stated I want to work on discerning messages and evaluating their truthfulness.

A good example would be a statement by a government official…is it true or false…or worse, a deliberate lie. It is vitally important to know the difference between false information and a lie. Both are not “truth” in any possible sense of the word. However, false information and a lie are not equal in weight when it comes to SA. Specifically, it is absolutely significant in terms of action to be taken. The degree of the underlying lack of truth will determine the degree, or severity, that your action will be.

By that I mean that in an emergency, disaster, or grid-down event false information can simply be a mistake in knowing or understanding the facts. A lie however, is a deliberate and intentional statement to misdirect and control you.

Another way to look at it, false information can be seen as ignorance (not knowing the facts). There are also some that would call false information as an attempt to withhold pertinent information while not specifically lying, and yet not being ignorant.

While confusing, it might be easier to look at it in this fashion; lying is done with malice. However, false information is usually as a result of ignorance or simply wanting to gain an advantage without the intention of malice. And malice, for this discussion is meant in terms of doing harm against the message recipient (i.e. stealing, injury, death. Control, etc.).

If I don’t have you completely confused by now, let me try harder. Example: Mohamed Saeed al-Sahhaf was the Iraqi Information Minister under Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. He was comically referred to as “Baghdad Bob” during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Bob would hold press conferences that spoke eloquently of how Iraqi forces where decimating US and Allied troops. This would go on day after day, sometimes multiple times per day. Why did he garner his nickname? Because everything that Mohamed was utterly untrue, simply nowhere near reality.

For anyone in the US it was easy to know that what he was saying was silly and absurd. Was this false information or a lie?

Here is where the real discussion takes place. The information was without question absolutely false. There is no wiggle room in that point. Once we know it was false information now we have to know his intention. For that you ask, “Why was he doing it?”

I doubt seriously that he was trying to trick the US. But, if not us, then who? I propose it was meant to trick and mislead the Iraqi military forces. If they felt they were wining they would fight and do so with confidence. If they knew they were losing, and were getting no information to the contrary, then morale would sag and troops would give up. If the troops gave up then Iraq loses the war, and that leads to Saddam Hussein losing power.  But…we are not done yet.

Let’s for the sake of this discussion assume that the troops believed what he was saying and fought on. Would more troops die than if they had given up right then and there? The answer is obviously yes, more troops would die on both sides. Therefore, what Baghdad Bob was doing was lying. His intention, implicit or explicit, was more death and carnage. He lied, and people died.

That is a real-life example of the difference between false information and lying…it is called intention.

Well, if that is the difference, how do you tell the difference between lying and false information?

Bingo! That is the point.. However, to truly drive the point home, to bring it to full light I feel I have to raise emotions. If not, the full understanding will be missed. So please bear with me. I am going to take a hot button subject and use it to show the difference between false information and lying. I am going to use examples, two of which are going to be in regards to Islam.

Now, for those whose blood pressure just went up, relax. This is not going to be an argument whether Islam is this or that, I will just use arguments on both sides to show false information vs. lies. And to use reason, logic, and facts in the process.

Islamic Terrorist hit again!

The United States suffered another terrorist attack, this time in San Bernardino in 2015. The terrorists who attacked a Christmas party were Muslim. That is an established fact, it is 100% truth. So the term “Muslim terrorist” is also 100% true. That is Philosophy 101 level logic based statement.

However, you have some that say Islam is a religion of violence, hate, terrorism.  They will then say that Islam itself is “terrorist” because all terrorism appears to be coming from Muslims.

The FBI defines “International terrorism” as activities with the following three characteristics:

  1. Involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  2. Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
  3. Occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.

We will use that definition and refer to it as simply “terrorism” for this discussion. And I am sure we can agree that the San Bernardino attack was terrorism.

Back to our Muslim terrorist statement, let’s test that for truth.

  1. Are all terrorists Islamic? Currently, the answer for some would be a resounding yes in as much as by statistics the largest number of terrorist attacks in the world right now are being committed by Muslims, and San Bernardino was for sure.
  2. Therefore, since all (or at least the vast majority) terrorism is being committed by members of Islam, and all members of Islam are Muslims, then all Muslims are terrorists.

Is that a true, or accurate, resulting statement? Let’s not worry about the answer just yet. Let’s test the statement itself, “Therefore, since all (or at least the vast majority) terrorism is being committed by members of Islam, and all members of Islam are Muslims, then all Muslims are terrorists.”

We can test that easily enough, do all Muslims commit terrorist acts? The answer is obviously no. Therefore, Islam by default is not a terrorist organization. I will even take it a step further and say that some Muslims are good people, but that is simply opinion since that is a subjective statement relative to my baseline. However, that also can’t produce a statement of truth, “Since some Muslims are good, then Islam is good.”

Where am I going with all of this? We need to have the tools to assess not just the truth of statements but what it means in relationship to ourselves. In other words, how does it impact us.

Let’s take the two opposing sides in one aspect of the Islam is bad argument:

  • Islam is bad, evil, and satanic creating terror around the world. Muslims are evil people and we must punish them.
  • Islam is a religion of peace and love. The terrorists are, and violence is being committed by, Muslims that are not practicing their faith. They are just evil people not Muslims.

So which is true?

I could by-pass a lot of discussion and ask a simple question, “What does each side gain by their position?”

  • The “Islam is bad” crowd probably wants war and a scapegoat for all the problems in the world.
  • The “Islam is peace” Muslim crowd wants the focus off themselves and their entire religion to not be held accountable.
  • The extremely vocal “Islam is peace” non-Muslim crowd is usually just full of vanity and self-aggrandizing.

All three sides have a lot to gain, all have significant self-interest. However, that self-interest must be considered in determining “truth.” And that doesn’t even begin to cover things such as bias.

So let’s test some more details of each side’s arguments.

  1. One side says Mohammad was a pedophile.
  2. The other side says that is not true and become enraged at the accusation.

Now, here is where it can get ugly…

A person trying to make Islam to be evil would say something like, “If the founder of Islam was evil because he was a pedophile, then the religion of Islam is evil. And if Islam is evil then Muslims must be evil.”

However, once again, that is an untrue statement using logic and fact. For it to be true, all Muslims must also be pedophiles. And we know that isn’t true, by anecdotal evidence and also Muslim religious and judicial guidelines in-place today saying that they cannot marry until a girl is at least in puberty.

Therefore that proves that not all Muslims are evil. Do some Muslims qualify as pedophiles? Are some Muslims criminals because they commit sexual abuse of pre-pubescent children? I cannot provide evidence or statistics to prove that point. Regardless of Mohammad’s standing as a pedophile or not, that alone does not make Islam or all Muslims pedophiles.

So when you hear statements, such as #1 & #2 above, you can’t simply make a snap decision and be assured of your accuracy. You must actually research the issue and know what you are talking about. Or you risk using false information or lies in your SA process. Doing so in emergencies, disasters, or grid-down events can then easily lead to making poor, maybe fatal, decisions based on faulty assumptions which was based on false information or lies.

But we still have the “action” aspect of the SA process I’ve been talking about. If you then take action, what are you taking action on…or for what reasons?

Based on the example statements, what action would or should you take?

My suggestions would be…virtually no action needs to be taken. And that is based on the amount of risk or threat to you if either statement is true or false.

What do I mean by that?

Statement #1 (One side says Mohammad was a pedophile.), even if it is true, so what? Does it require any action on your part? No. Plain and simple, no.

Statement #2 (The other side says that is not true and become enraged at the accusation.), if it was proven to be a lie, what threat or risk is there to you or your family? None. Plain and simple, none.

But, what it does mean to me (or you) is…if a person tries to advocate for Statement #2. I need to be cautious. Why? If a person is perpetuating that lie, they are then a liar and not to be trusted.

There is an exception to that conclusion. If statement #1 was true in your mind but a person can provide sufficient evidence that a reasonable person would believe that Mohammad wasn’t a pedophile, then you need to change your opinion. But, the evidence provided must pass a simple test – it must negate all the evidence you used proving to yourself that Mohammad was a pedophile.

An example of that would be definitive proof that A’isha lied when she said she was 6 when married to Mahmoud, then 9 when forced to have sex with him. That might be difficult, remember her own story in her own words was recorded by eleven authorities. Or, the writings/narrations, written in their holy book must be proven to have been fraudulently recorded. OK, you get the idea on that burden of proof.

But here is a problem, A’isha herself told the story of her and Mohammad, and that story was recorded as truth many times in their holy books. If someone in present day claims that it isn’t true, you would have to naturally ask, “How can a person 1400 years after the fact claim to know more than actual written history recorded multiple times by multiple people who lived it?”

And then you have to bring into the equation that no recognized or credible Islamic scholar or historian raised any red flag over the story of A’isha prior to some modern-day claim of fraud. Why would that be? If it was a lie and a fraudulent story, wouldn’t someone have objected to it being in their holy books in the first 100, 500, or 1000 years after it was written? Why would someone just bring it up in modern times and expect to have any credibility?

Now, there is a more actionable point. If a person tries to claim a different truth, a different factual history, now…ask yourself “Why now and why him?” That is far more important question to answer before you delve into the truthfulness of his claims. You must know “intent” first.

Until you can be convinced otherwise you would be well suited to view that person who is making the claim to be either providing false information due to ignorance, or lying for more malevolent purposes. And you maintain that position until he can prove to you otherwise.

Personal note: I don’t care who Mohammad was or is. Yes,I feel sorry for that little girl, but it happened a long time ago. I don’t judge Islam or Muslims based on Mohammad’s pedophile status or what he did to that little girl. I don’t judge, or at least I shouldn’t judge, one Muslim based on what another Muslim does. What I do care about it the content of a person’s character. If a Muslim, like any other person, lives a decent life and doesn’t hurt others, then they are okay in my book. In today’s world it is easy to be calloused about Muslims and view them as a single group. I urge you not to. Sure, logic and prudence does whisper some caution, but it doesn’t justify bias, prejudice, or bigotry.

Good SA requires the ability to think through all informational input. And you must be able to analyze it with facts and logic. Then, act only if the outcome, or potential outcome, requires it.

And beware of arguments filled with emotions. A solid position based on fact and logic needs no emotion. Emotion is meant to win an argument with little or no fact, without logic, and mostly upon the art of persuasion touching a person’s feelings.

Should that fail, some weak minded people may use “deflection” as a tactic. This is most often used when a person knows their position is without merit, wholly or partially, and uses something else to draw away attention. Example: Christians killed more people than Muslims.

In that argument they are trying to use a moral equivalent to justify their position. But use reason in relationship to your baseline…Christians killing people in the name of their religion or their god is just as evil as Muslims killing people in the name of their religion or their god. They are trying to justify or overshadow one evil act with another. When in fact, both acts are evil. But the person that makes that argument is unable to see the difference, approves of both, or simply can’t make the mental effort to understand the fallacy of the argument they are making.

You will also see some individuals that will use emotion, and when that attempt fails the person will then sometimes fall back to attacking the opposing person personally without the use of facts, reasoning, and logic. It becomes a personal attack vs. a discussion or debate.  Those tactics can be read about in a book called Rules for Radical by Sal Alinsky. The book ironically enough is dedicated to Satan.

Concluding…SA is essential to emergency preparedness. You must be able to recognize truth, false statements, and lies. If you don’t develop that skill set you will not be able to accurately assess information that you are receiving. And that will lead to poor decision making. And poor decision making could easily lead to injury or death through bad actions or lack of action. Us critical thinking skills…think it through…test all statements for logic and reason…and most of all, intent.

 

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Situational Awareness: Part 4 – Team SA

Team Situational AwarenessIn this post I will go over what Team Situational Awareness is, barriers, mitigation and touch on how it relates to a High Reliability Organization. I will focus on communications as an important, the most important, aspect of Team SA.

In the previous post I went over what the barriers are to SA, specifically individual SA. Along with identifying those barriers I also provided ways to overcome them and breakthrough bias.

Team SA is defined as every team member’s situational awareness integrated with every other team member and fully related to, and integrated with, the team leader. That’s a mouthful for the following:

  • Each team member has a specific responsibility/task for a particular mission.
  • Each team member must have a high level of SA for their area of responsibility.
  • Each team member must relay key pieces of their SA to all other team members, especially the team leader.
  • The team leader must keep overall mission SA based on input from team members

Team based Situational Awareness - Team SAThe success of the team mission is based on each team member having good SA. Conversely, if a single team member has poor SA the team’s mission performance can suffer…or fail completely. Consequently each team member must have a high level of SA regarding their aspect of the mission that they are responsible for. And here is the rub; all team members must share critical information with all other team members. If the person who needs Team SA depends almost entirely on good communications among team members.critical information for their SA is not made aware of that information, then the team’s SA is poor and successful mission completion is jeopardized. High quality communications, especially verbal, is essential for the exchange of information and building situational knowledge and the processing of that knowledge.

Knowing everything that is going on all the time is very difficult for any one person, especially during complex high stress operations.  Sharing of mission/task responsibilities is essential.  The same applies to the sharing of SA responsibilities. Shared high quality SA characteristics in teams:

  1. Refers to the overlap between the SA requirements of the team members.All team members help each team member.
  2. In a high performing team, each team member has an understanding of what is happening based on those SA elements that are common to the mission.
  3. When changes are noted that could pose a problem, team members must first take action by speaking up.
  4. All team members are tasked to identify problems before they affect mission accomplishment…hopefully before the mission in the planning phase prior to action starting in the field.
  5. Team members don’t wait to be asked. When you have information critical to team performance, speak up!
  6. Recognize and make others aware when the team deviates from standard procedures.
  7. Monitor the performance of other team members.
  8. The best feedback of your performance comes from others.

Examples of good communications skills of team members:Assertive Communications

  • Assertive
  • Specific & clear
  • No fear of speaking up
  • Realistic & Clear Expectations
  • Not waiting to be askedRealistic & Clear Expectations.
  • Receptive not defensive
  • Share intended actions
  • Identify and share problems before they affect the mission
  • Make expectations of self and others clear
  • Don’t assume someone already knows

High quality communications among team members is the heart of high performing Team SA. High quality communications begins with a thorough pre-mission briefing. Elements of that briefing must include:Mission or event briefing outline

  • Clearly defined mission.
  • Leader’s intent (what success looks like).
  • Each individual must know their responsibilities within the mission.
  • Each individual must know every other team members’ roles and responsibilities.

Barriers to team situational awareness.Barriers to quality Team SA include all the same barriers to individual SA plus:

  • When you start hearing or saying “He thinks he knows everything.”
  • Agreement to, or suggestion of, “mission creep” begins to take place.
  • One or more individuals exhibit a barrier to SA without it being corrected.
  • Communication among team members begins to breakdown, especially verbal, and that breakdown is not immediately corrected.
  • Performance of one or more team members degrades and can’t be compensated for by other team members.

Ways to prevent, or correct, barriers to high quality Team SA are:Overcoming barriers to team situational awareness.

  1. Monitor the performance of other team members.
  2. Identify potential or existing problems; provide a solution in assertive terms.
  3. Recognize and make others aware when the team deviates from standard procedures.
  4. Effectively communicate on a regular basis during non-mission time to set the communication standard.
HRO Pillar - Preoccupation With Failure!

Preoccupation With Failure!

There is a direct relationship between great Team SA and fostering a High Reliability Organization (HRO). HRO is an organizational model that is used in high-speed, high-stress, high-risk, high-hazard, complex environments.

Examples: aircraft carrier flight deck operations, US Navy nuclear operations, air traffic control operations, Special Forces, etc. HRO’s have proven to be very effective at mitigating probability and severity of catastrophic accidents.

The five pillars of HRO’s are:

  1. Preoccupation with failure
  2. Reluctance to simplify interpretations of events or situations
  3. Sensitivity to operations
  4. Commitment to resilience
  5. Deference to expertise

These five pillars of HRO’s work hand-in-hand with Team SA. I will write more about HRO’s and their effectiveness at another time, but for now, know that Team SA is the #1 tool to promote the #1 pillar of an HRO. A team must be preoccupied with failure in order to prevent those failures from happening. Team SA anticipates and/or sees the failures coming before they occur and then take the necessary steps to avoid those failures. But, we will save this juicy tidbit for another day.

As you read through this article on Team SA you now understand that the #1 Good Communicationsway to avoid poor Team SA is through high-quality communicating among team members. Without great communications your team is doomed to failure. And failure can be fatal. Learn and practice great Team SA.

 

Success comes from the ICS incident command system for preppers during grid-down

Your Choice!

 

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No reproduction or other use of this content 
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Situational Awareness: Part 3 – Barriers to SA

Situational Awareness - Barriers * breaking through barriersIn this post I will be covering the barriers to good Situational Awareness (SA) and how to overcome them.  I will explain what those barriers are, their signs & symptoms, and how to overcome them so you can acquire and maintain good SA during any emergency, disaster or “grid-down” situation your family find itself in.

In my last post (Situational Awareness: Part 2 – Micro & Macro SA) I went into detail explaining the two different environments that you must monitor for complete SA, micro and macro.  I gave a solid example of both.  I also walked you through how to analyze the situations and identify different options for action.  Without action SA is not very useful.  But let’s get down to talking about barriers to SA…

First, you must understand that people seldom realize they are losing, or have lost, their SA until it is too late to make significant corrective action(s) for both mission accomplishment and team member safety.

Second, to maintain quality SA requires a physical and emotional commitment to pay attention. The “what” you must pay attention to is not always obvious or instinctual. Most people’s attention focuses on, or gets distracted by, things that are loud, moving, shiny/bright, or that which is close to you; especially in your immediate personal space.

Now let’s touch on specific barriers –

The number one barrier, without any doubt, to high quality and accurate Situational Awareness is “communications.” However, there are more barriers than just communications.  But, all SA barriers can be broken down into to basically two categories, physical and emotional/mental.

Physical:

  • Communication – Hardware
  • Communication – Quality & Quantity
  • Staffing (under staffed, level of training)
  • Tunnel Vision
  • Health (tired/fatigued, ill, injured)

Emotional/Mental:

  • Normalcy Bias (includes Complacency, Perceptions)
  • Competency Bias
  • Overwhelmed (including: stress, distraction, conflict & Paralysis by Analysis)
  • Excessive motivation
  • Culture

The physical barriers to SA are actually easier to identify and easier to deal with than the emotional/mental barriers. However, a lot of attention has to be applied to both. And the biggest contributor in the emotional/mental area is “ego.” You must be willing to admit that you aren’t perfect; you don’t know everything and other people can be smarter than you. That humilty ability at least opens you up to recognizing the other barriers as they occur.

Physical barriers to SA:

  • Communication – Hardware.Here we are talking the communications equipment itself, the stuff you use to Barrier to Situational Awareness can be communications hardware.communicate with others. Whether it is radios, cell phones, signal mirrors or any other piece of equipment that is used for communicating. If it is broken, not compatible, incorrectly configured or people don’t know how to use it then communications immediately begins to break down. Once the information exchange is delayed or absent SA suffers or completely disappears altogether. So how to overcome this barrier?
    • Correctly configure and test all communications equipment prior to use.
    • Train everyone on how to use the equipment…and practice.
    • Anticipate that the equipment will fail, have alternatives and options. Something as simple as spare batteries, solar battery charger, or whistles to use if radios are non-functioning.
    • You can also have a Standard Operating Guide (SOG) that states if you lose communications with your leader/subordinate you will immediately do “X” or “Y”. Yeah that means a Plan B.
    • Then train your folks in scenarios where communications fail.
  • Communication – Quality & Quantity.The mitigation to this barrier can be a bit tricky. When overcoming the communication barrier to SA you have to know one important thing – relevance. The information you are communicating must be relevant to the both the mission and the environment; then it must be communicated clearly, concisely, and assertively. But it almost always must be done in the shortest conveyance possible. Use as few words as possible to communicate the relevant information. Sometimes “words” aren’t even needed. It is common that in the field that distinctive “double click” on the radio means “acknowledge” or “copy” rather than speaking the word. Don’t communicate information that is not pertinent nor relevant. Don’t over-communicate; keep messages short, no “narrations” or “stories” when passing on information in the field.
  • Staffing (under staffed, level of training). The number of people assigned to the task/mission must be realistic for a successful outcome. Too many assigned folks and people get in the way of each other. Too few and people become overwhelmed and/or overworked.  Either usually results in tasks going unaccomplished. All personnel assigned to a specific responsibility related to the task or mission must be trained to successfully perform that responsibility. To help ensure mission accomplishment it is best to have personnel cross-trained in one or more other responsibilities to assist as needed.
  • Tunnel Vision. People naturally want to simplify a complex problem, derive a simple solution, and reduce the
    Tunnel Vision is a barrier to good Situational Awareness

    Tunnel Vision

    amount of incoming information to support a simplified solution. And in doing so people tend to gravitate to their own areas of expertise or comfort zones. And while all that is happening we also tend to reduce, or eliminate, alternative solutions that may be far better than the solution we have fixated on. This is commonly referred to as tunnel vision. The term “think outside the box” has a lot of merit to it. The best way to avoid tunnel vision is to ask those around you what they think of your solution or vision and then accept their honest feedback without becoming defensive. In a High Reliability Organization a leader will defer to others for their expertise in areas where the other person exceeds their own training and knowledge.

  • Health (tired/fatigue, ill, injured, adrenaline). If you are not in good physical condition and healthy then you are seldom able to acquire and maintain SA. You may acquire/maintain enough SA to accomplish the task/mission successfully but you must stay cognizant of where your breaking point is.  Reaching a breaking
    Poor Health, tired, hungry, dehydrated is a barrier to good situational awareness.

    Poor Health

    point, as it relates to your SA, can lower your ability to accept inputs enough that it jeopardizes you and your team. Another example is adrenaline. Adrenalin is a two-edged sword; it can cut both ways – good and bad. Adrenalin affects you physically and mentally in extreme ways; there is little middle ground to the effects of adrenaline. When humans find themselves in life-threatening situations our genetic programming will put us into a “adrenaline rush” pumping that chemical into our system. Essentially the “rush” allows us to “fight or flight” with enhanced capability that exceeds our normal human capacity or capability. Physically we find ourselves able to breathe in more air, pump more oxygen to our vital organs; our muscles become stronger, etc. That gives considerably more ability to fight the threat or flee from it faster than we normally could. The down side to the adrenaline rush is we lose a whole lot of our ability to think logically. Essentially we are stuck with the tunnel vision of fight or flight. Only physical training, simulation training  and experience can get us past the effects of the adrenaline rush forcing tunnel vision on us. “Stop, take a deep breath” has been uttered a billion times to people under stressful situations. There is a reason for it. When we find ourselves in an adrenaline rush or any stressful situation you must recognize what is happening. You must stop yourself from making a knee-jerk reaction, calm down, regain your composure and force yourself to think through a situation. The easiest “health” related barrier breaker to implement is; 1) stay hydrated, 2) eat right, and 3) get enough sleep/rest. Do not neglect these three basic mitigation actions and you are well on your way to overcoming the “health” barrier to good SA.

Emotional/mental barriers to SA:

  • Normalcy Bias (includes complacency, perception, and cognitive dissonance). Humans for the most part like consistency in the important aspects of our lives. We like to see our world as steady and reliable; few surprises. We like others to be dependable and situations to be simple and what we expect to see.
    Normalcy Bias is a barrier to good Situational Awareness

    Normalcy Bias

    Unfortunately that is a death sentence for dealing with emergencies and disasters. When dealing with a task/mission, especially complex ones, events and actions may be well outside of the “norm” and completely unexpected. In some cases maybe even bizarre. As humans we don’t like the discomfort of the unexpected or conflicting inputs and emotions.  We will naturally try to filter them through our biases to change sensory inputs into what we do expect…almost always something less scary or less unexpected than what reality is presenting us with. We tend to force those sensory inputs to conform to our view of how they “should be.” When doing so we will find ourselves distorting reality.  Sometimes we will have a tendency to simply block out the event altogether if it is too unexpected.

There is a definition and explanation for that. When we are presented with two or more sensory inputs that are contradictory to our expectations we can become very uncomfortable, that is called “cognitive cognitive dissonance is a barrier to situational awarenessdissonance.” In other words, our life just became very unbalanced and we hate that. So naturally via instinct or experience we attempt to restore balance. Unfortunately by doing so we will actively seek to avoid situations and  information that influence accurate reality-based SA. That means we will consciously or unconsciously shun anything that is causing the unbalance. And in doing so can make a bad situation way worse by ignoring reality.

Overcoming Normalcy Bias barrier is the single largest challenge most people will face in life because it is the barrier that is the most entrenched into our human brain and DNA wiring. And it is such because it is a survival mechanism for our brains. You mitigate this barrier through training (classroom, self-study & simulation) and experience.  Team SA is less likely to suffer from this barrier because you have more minds working on the same set of mission centered challenges and problems. Therefore you are more likely to have one of the team members speak up and challenge the “norm” or they have had enough experience to have reduced cognitive dissonance.

  • Competency Bias.This barrier is a function of “ego” pure and simple. It’s our view of ourselves and our Competency Bias is a barrier to situational awarenessabilities. It is our vision that we will always succeed.  Or, alternatively, our vision that we are always better at something than everyone else. Simply put it is the thinking that we can’t lose because we are better or luckier that others. That could be we are better trained, better equipped, better people, better cause, or any other host of ego driven self-image visions of grandeur (delusions of grandeur). This barrier is best mitigated simply by understanding that there others out there better than yourself. A more formal methodology would be found in the High Reliability Organization concept of “preoccupation with failure.” Looking at any given situation you are in and thinking through the ways that you (and/or your team) could fail. Then taking steps to mitigate the factors that could lead to the failure. A good test to status with this barrier…does anyone say about you “He thinks he knows everything.” If yes, you for sure should think twice about suffering from this barrier…Competency Bias.
  • Overwhelmed (including: stress, distraction, conflict & Paralysis by Analysis). This barrier is most notably found with young and less experienced leaders. Any situation can have activity and events that spiral Situational Awareness barriersupwards in numbers and severity…or alternatively, simply spiral out of control. So much can be happening that the action occurring and information that is incoming simply becomes too much for a person to handle. Stress is a result of this activity. Stress can also come from the unrealistic expectations of mission success or an unrealistic vision of team member capabilities. Even unrealistic expectations of a good attitude can be a barrier. A great way to mitigate this barrier is to simply ask “Is what I am thinking/planning a realistic expectation of the situation or person given the circumstances that we are dealing with?”
  • Another stressor is conflict among team members. To the detriment of everyone, the conflict itself can become the primary focus of team members and the team as a whole. This tends to happen in teams that have little experience operating together. A leader who is not trusted or respected can mismanage so badly Situational Awareness - Microthey can also drive a team full of conflict. Whatever the reason the team members feel an overriding need to resolve the conflict vs. achieving mission success. Due to induced stress, whatever the cause, a person can get to the point where they are so stressed they will tend to suffer from cognitive dissonance and Normalcy Bias rather easily. When that occurs a common result can be the filtering of sensory input or becoming distracted by the activities that are not pertinent to SA. Sue to the conflict they also could simply “disconnect” from other team members, or the entire team, and not accept any, or limit, sensory input effectively incapacitating them. Mitigation is best achieved by having a team whose members know each other, have trained together, and trust/respect each other.  On the ground you can mitigate this barrier assessing which information is the most important and filtering out the less impactful.  A leader can also ask for someone else to help with informational gathering and processing of specific inputs.
  • Too much information…in large, overly bureaucratic or hierarchical organizations a common barrier is “Paralysis by Analysis.” This barrier is usually erected by well-intentioned people. They have a desire to acquire as much information as possible and then work through projecting all possible outcomes before Situational Awarenessmaking an action plan. This barrier can often show that progress (albeit fake/false) is being made based on acquisition and processing. When in reality all the time and effort put into analysis is preventing a decision from being made on what should be done. You don’t have to have the best decision or the best plan. All you need is a plan that provides for task/mission success. And to come to a decision you only need the minimum of information not the maximum. The delay of action will almost always be to the detriment of mission accomplishment. No, you shouldn’t be impatient to act; but you also don’t want to find yourself paralyzed into not taking action because you are still trying to “figure it out.”
  • Excessive motivation. Also known as a “Can do!” attitude taken to the extreme. These folks will tend to be only concerned about mission accomplishment, often at any cost. While on the surface this may appear to
    Excessive Motivation is a barrier to situational awareness.

    Excessive Motivation

    be a positive trait, it is not. Caution should be given when a person expresses mission/task accomplishment “no matter what.” These people will tend to also suffer from Competency Bias and be so focused on succeeding they overlook the long list of ways they can fail. And not recognizing avenues of failure almost assures that they will follow one of those routes to failure. The best mitigation is well-trained, experienced leaders that have realistic expectations of success and can say “no” when needed. In high-risk, potentially lethal environment, this excessive motivation trait will often result in loss of life of team members.

  • Culture (includes ethnicity & religion).There are human attributes that are attached to certain cultures and religions. However, do not confuse “bias” with these cultural and religious attributes. One cultural attribute that comes to mind is Native Americans to be less vocal, especially in groups or crowds of non-Native Americans. Also, there is at least one religion, Islam, that in some areas of the world have very diminished views of women and their roles. Even a culture that respects all life can be a barrier because they aren’t skeptical enough of other people; or, they will hesitate to take life when the situation demands it for self defense. The best mitigation to these barriers is to be aware that they can exist and have no predetermined image or vision of anyone. Treat everyone equally and that includes you. Ask other team members for an honest assessment of any cultural and religious barriers that you or any other team member might have.

We just reviewed a long list of Situational Awareness barriers. However, you will notice that there are three primary ways to overcome those barriers:

  1. Good communications.
  2. Realistic perceptions and expectations.
  3. Training & experience.

Putting these barrier breakers into practice can sound easy but in reality they can be tough to regularly and appropriately implement. But training and experience can make it much easier to break down barriers in the field. Having a mentor, especially a leadership mentor, can help dramatically.

I will end this with saying again; High-quality Situational Awareness is of paramount importance.

It is your single most important skill to acquire and perfect to keep you and your team safe and alive. Without good SA you are clueless………and will probably act as such

 

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Situational Awareness: Part 2 – Micro & Macro

Situational awareness - pay attention signIt is easier to understand the micro environment by defining the macro environment first. A macro environment is the environment that exists on a much larger scale than your immediate surroundings…perhaps all the way to a national or global level. I am talking about on an international and national level Situational Awareness - Macrofor events that are transpiring. You could also easily include events occurring on a state and maybe even a county level as being part of that macro environment.

The micro environment is much closer to you; that which you have more control over and that which generally has more effect on you. Everything within your immediate surroundings; within eyesight is in the micro environment. Everything that takes place in your home, neighborhood, congregation, and probably even in your city all exists in your micro environment. But for our discussion, for the most part, I will refer to that which is within eyesight when referring to the “micro” aspect of the environment.

So exactly what is the “knowledge” and the “everything” that I referred to earlier?

To simplify it we can refer to both terms as “stimulus” and maybe more correctly, “stimuli.” But either way, it is Sensory Inputsensory input that we receive as humans via the basic five senses; sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. But I am going to add a sixth sensory input in there as well. Some call it “instinct”, others call it “gut feeling”, some others call it the “still small voice.” Whatever you choose to call it is fine with me; I will call it “instinct” for this discussion. Although, I am more disposed to the “still small voice” description but it is too long of a term for writing an article…and requires some additional explanation and discussion that is best left for another time and place.

So everything that we can sense in our environment is the input which we process and then it becomes knowledge. Once we have that knowledge we then can estimate what the various outcomes might be. Based on the probabilities of success of the various outcomes we choose an action, and then take action.

I place all of this process under the single label of Situational Awareness (SA).

Now that we have suffered through defining SA, why is SA good to have? With good SA and a solid understanding of L.I.P.S. you can make great decisions and take actions that will keep you and your family, or team, thriving and out of danger.

Why is the lack of SA a bad thing? Simple, in an emergency, disaster, or especially “grid-down” if you don’t have good SA you will die. And all of your family or team will probably die along with you. I am not sure about you, but death is not high on my priority list.

Let me give two example of SA; micro and macro while being a bit melodramatic.

First comes the micro environment. You are in a “grid-down” situation, you are out scavenging for fuel, yoGang members with guns in grid-downu turn the corner and there are three bad guys. You recognize them as all being bad guys from earlier run-ins, you know they mean business. One is about 50’ from you and has a pistol in his hand, arm hanging by his side. The second is about 125’ from you and has a shotgun cradled in his arms. The third guy is about 175’ from you and has an AR-15, maybe an M4, slung in the low ready position; appears to have a 30-round magazine in place. They are all looking away from you by about 90 degrees so you have maybe 1 – 2 seconds of lead-time on them.

Who is your biggest threat and whom do you shoot first?

Make your choice and outline your reasoning before continuing.

So, let’s talk it through the way I see it:

  1. The guy with the pistol is 50’ away from you and 50’ is a longer distance for the average person (even a well trained individual) to accurately fire a pistol and hit a target…especially under the stress and pressure of a gun battle. This is especially true for someone having to make a “snap” shot. So in my way of thinking he is not a real big threat right away…at least not the #1 threat.
  2. The guy with the shotgun has it cradled in his arm so it will take him a second or two to bring the shotgun into play. Also, it is almost a 42 yard shot for him and a standing “snap” shot at that. At 42 yards if he has it loaded with birdshot you can probably live even if you are hit. Also, most people are not accurate at that distance, especially with an adrenaline rush of a gun battle hitting them. So while being shot with a shotgun is not fun, it will hurt, you are more likely to be hit with a shotgun pellet than from a round fired from the person with the pistol. So he does represent a bigger threat than the pistol carrier.
  3. Now we have the guy with the AR or M4. First, the fact that he has it slung in a low-ready position indicates that he knows how to “wear” his weapon. Holding it in the low-ready indicates that he has some amount of training in weapons handling and tactics. The 30-round magazine indicates that he has a lot of rounds he can throw at you as fast as he can pull the trigger. Or, optionally he may be able to let loose a fully automatic burst at you. To me, this guy is without question your greatest threat. You better accurately throw a lot of lead at him as fast as you can to take him down or get him to run.
  4. Seek cover! You would factor in any cover that might be available to you. Actually, this should probably be your first choice.  They can’t shoot you if they can’t see you and/or they can’t get a round into you. So your Seek cover during gun fight.best bet might be to run for cover vs. standing there and having a shootout with 3 against 1 odds against you.

So there is your micro environment along with its sensory input. Once you absorb that input you process it into meaningful knowledge, decide on action options, choose one of those options and put it into play. OODA at work!

Let’s touch on a macro environment scenario now. Times are tough, unemployment is high, banks are troubled, the Economic collapse of teh US economygovernment is getting more and more tyrannical, and you are hearing the TV talking heads blather on about economic instability and devaluing of the dollar. You have money in a Fidelity IRA, a couple thousand in a BoA account, and your paycheck gets direct deposited. You wake up in the morning and there is a “News Alert” on TV referencing the President talking about the possibility of a bank holiday to straighten out the economic and Bank Holidaydollar problem. He says it’s no big deal and it would only last a day. Most of the TV talking heads praise him for such a bold move. The stock market opens 10 minutes later and drops 350 points in the first 5 minutes, another 500 points in the first hour.

What is going on, how important is it and what do you do about it?

Well, let’s talk it through:

  1. Times have been tough for a long time now and really tough since 2009. Since the pandemic hit in early 2020 the economy has nose dived and unemployment is at historic depression era levels. So there isn’t a lot different here.
  2. We’ve had the lowest labor participation rate for quite a while now, and it has been getting steadily worse since 2009.  Since the pandemic…is it at historic levels. While the unemployment rate has been going down it is mostly based on people being hired for low-paying jobs, part-time jobs, and fewer people looking for work. So nothing major or new here either…until the pandemic hit.
  3. The government has been getting much more tyrannical since 2001 in the areas of regulation and militarizing of police.  So there isn’t a whole lot new here either.
  4. The value of the dollar moves up and down, but it has been fairly strong for quite a while. Mostly this is due to other currencies going down in value.  But “devaluing” the dollar is a serious big red flag. This means that the dollar is about to make a big move (maybe already has) and it is almost certainly to be a downward move. This is a key piece of information.
  5. Hearing the phrase “straighten out the dollar” is a huge red flag. That indicates that something is wrong with it and something has to be done to correct it. This is a key piece of information.
  6. If you ever hear the phrase “bank holiday” mentioned in the US, especially by someone in government, you Government confiscating your IRA & 401k & savings accountshould be extremely concerned about what is happening. This indicates that the entire US economy and financial system might be about to be completely changed. And there is a very, very good chance that any money you have in any form in the bank or similar financial institution is in jeopardy. In jeopardy as in being taken from you, especially IRA and 401k kind of money.  This is an extremely key piece of critical information.

If you don’t act on that information what can/could happen? What actions can you take to minimize potential losses?

So, let’s talk it through the way I see it:

  1. You can’t make any significant move that would have an immediate change in your paycheck being direct deposited.
  2. If you take money from your IRA it will be taxed and penalized…and will take some time…days to maybe hours. While to can’t take any immediate action with the funds you could take a medium term move and transfer some, or all, funds into a local credit union IRA. By doing so you don’t suffer any taxes or penalty and the funds are closer to home and more readily available if needed in the future.
  3. The money in the BoA account is readily available. You could withdraw it and keep cash on hand. Or, as an option, take the cash and purchase a combination of precious metals (golds/silver).

So, you have just been exposed to micro and a macro environment form of stimulus input. The micro environment issues and risks tend to be dangerous and more probable in general. Macro environment issues can be just as dangerous, sometimes far more so, but less probable overall to occur. And macro can also be more widespread. In other words, both micro and macro can affect you but macro can affect a whole bunch more people at one time.

Why is knowing the difference between micro and macro important? You gotta know the risks to both, know what to watch for and understand the potential impact of both while putting them into perspective.  Or…you just can ignore SA and follow the other sheep into the abyss.

Yeah, sorry, I am saying you gotta “think” about important stuff not just some NFL score for your favorite team on Sundays.

 

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Situational Awareness: Introduction

Situational Awarenessnote: originally written in early 2015, updated in 2018, edited/updated again in 2020.

Several years ago I began writing a series of posts about Situational Awareness (SA). I believe SA is the single skill that will both motivate you to be prepared for emergencies and keep you alive during one. And for this conversation I refer to “emergencies” as any emergency, disaster, or even “grid-down.” And I mean all the way to “Zombie Apocalypse” or “TEOTWAWKI” kind of grid-down.

How is it so important and why does it rate so high in my estimation?

Hey wait, you forgot to ask what happened to all the material that I started writing several years ago. Well, I spent  several hours writing a great first post. Then I went back and read it. Boring!

No, seriously, it was incredibly boring. However, it was filled with an amazing amount of terrific information, examples, and great advice. But it was “stick-in-your-eye” painfully boring. So I will write it a little more like I would want to read it.  So on with the article…

Why is Situational Awareness important again? Come on, think about it. If you can’t accurately observe and understand the things taking place around you, then you can’t use that information to make decisions and then take appropriate action. What other skill or training matters if you are clueless to what is happening around you during critically important times?

You must be able to:OODA - observe, orient, decide, act loop

  1. Observe
  2. Orient
  3. Decide
  4. Act

The above is referred to as OODA.

So before I present any more SA information let’s take just a second and review preparedness goals and priorities: L.I.P.S.

Life Safety – You and your family/team must stay fully functional. That means no fatalities, no injuries, and no sickness. You stay as safe and as healthy as possible.

Incident Stabilization – Don’t make a bad situation worse. There is already a problem going on (emergency or disaster) so don’t do things that would make the problem worse than it already is.

Property Conservation – Don’t destroy anything you don’t have to. Resources are valuable, don’t destroy or use resources unnecessarily. You might need them later.

Societal Restoration – Do those things that puts society/family/community back the way it was (maybe even better) before the emergency or disaster.

So L.I.P.S. give us a solid commonsense method of setting priorities and making decisions. <click here for more info on LIPS> Now that we can make good decisions and set the correct priorities we must be able to understand what is going on around us in real terms. That is one part of SA, but there is more.

Purists would describe SA in the strictest of terms as a “state of knowledge.” In other words we have realistic knowledge of the things taking place around us in our environment. Further, Situational Assessment is being able to correctly assess that knowledge. And then there is the whole “action” part of the cycle, etc. If you are a student of “OODA” then you already have an idea of what I am talking about. But, for this conversation we are going to define Situational Awareness as the acquisition of, the processing of, a state of, and taking action on knowledge. That knowledge comes from the environment around you.

When dealing with all things preparedness, there is the “tangible” and then there is the “intangible”. The tangible is easy to identify; if you can eat it, drink it, hold it in your hand, or at least see it, then it is considered tangible. But in many respects that is the easy part of emergency preparedness. The toughest part of prepping may be that which you can’t touch, see, drink or eat…the intangible.

“How so?” you might ask.

Well, that is a great question and one that may raise some debate among all of us in the prepper world. But let me make my case for the “intangibles” being the greatest challenge and potentially the most fatal threat if disregarded.

Let me regress for a minute and talk about the “tangibles”, a complex but not-so-difficult subject to understand. You set a goal based on priorities (i.e. one year supply of food), then you work hard to add tangibles to your supply until you have met your stated goal.  The food you acquired can be held in your hand, seen on the shelf, eaten when needed, and therefore it is tangible.

SA is an intangible and can’t be held in your hand.  And so we must be able to clearly define it to be able to learn about it.

So what is the true value of Situational Awareness? Well, that depends – Do you want to live or die?

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be overly melodramatic but I do want to make a point. If you wish to make high-quality, informed and timely decisions you must be able to acquire, process and use information of your surroundings. Without that capability you are simply spitting into the wind and depending on blind luck not to get any backsplash on you. Don’t laugh, many people live every aspect of their daily life doing just that…you probably know a few.

Now let me share what the overall steps are when it comes to SA in emergency, disaster or “grid-down” situations.

First, you must understand the environment that you will be operating it; establish a baseline or what is normal and therefor expected in that environment. Hence, anything that occurs that is outside of that baseline is not normal and to be noted. You do that by observing what is happening around you – Situational Awareness.

Second, you then must identify the key cues that will indicate that something is sufficiently abnormal (i.e. different) that it would represent an increased threat or risk.  And you must monitor those identified environment elements for any change or deviation from the baseline, recognize when they occur and their relative importance – Situational Understanding.

Third, you project the outcome of the events that are taking place that are deemed a threat or risk to determine the effect it will have on your situation.  You then decide on an option to mitigate that threat or risk – Situational Judgement.

Fourth, take timely and decisive corrective action if required. Yes, I believe that SA without “action” is a waste of time and energy. But that also makes me outside of the mainstream advocating that SA includes an element of action – Situational Influence.

What exactly must you be observing in your environment?  The environment that I am speaking of comes in two forms, “micro” and “macro”. And that is the focus of the next article in this series.

 

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Situational Awareness (SA)

Situational AwarenessOne of the most important elements/principles to emergency preparedness is Situational Awareness (SA) and I refer to it quite a bit in articles. Actually, SA is essential for all the other principles/aspects of emergency preparedness to work properly. Without high-quality SA…all your other training and preparedness efforts are pretty much worthless.

I began writing about SA for preppers back about 2012. In 2015 I wrote an in-depth series of articles that was entirely geared for preppers. And it all promptly disappeared when the site crashed a few years ago.

Yes, I resurrected them and reproduced the articles in the form of “pages” as a topic under the “Principles of Preparedness” in the main menu bar. I made sure the articles were all on the Table of Contents page as well. But, a person has to go digging for that information to find it…something that many people aren’t willing (or can’t) do in today’s fast paced world with limited time. And, because the articles were produced as “pages” vs “posts” they don’t appear under “Situational Awareness” menu item on the left of each page.

Well, I am going to change that…starting today. I am going to reproduce the “pages” into “posts” after I’ve done some editing and updating to each page. Then when all the articles are completed and posted I will turn it into aWildland Firefighters face risk and threats in daily job PDF file for those who wish to save them and even print them for your reference material.

Why am I such a proponent of SA? Simple…my life depended on it…and the lives of those I led. In my former professional life if my SA wasn’t at the top of its game I could get injured or die. And the same was true for the men and women I led. In the later part of my career I taught higher level SA courses to leaders.

It wasn’t much of a stretch for me to see that SA was essential to being a successful prepper. Food storage is great! Having water stored is a good idea. First Aid training is smart. Weapons and training is important. But all of that is 100% useless without quality SA to know what is going on, what to do, and when to do it.

As we see what is going on all around us in the world today with the pandemic, the politics, the violence, and the civil war…well, this topic seemed fitting and appropriate for the here and now.

 

<click here to read the first Situational Awareness article>

 

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Why am I so quiet?

To some folks the title might more appropriately read…“Thank you for being so quiet!”

Yeah, a little humor to start the morning out. But…I think there are a few people out there that would see that statement more as reality than humor. Especially on another so-called prepper website where folks know me. Oh well, enough of that…let’s get on with my message this morning!

Bottom line…I’ve been working like crazy on two things…1) trying to finish a lot of projects on the new place, 2) personal reasons.

As for #2, don’t ask. Let’s just say I’ve been anxiously engaged in trying to accomplish one of the goals of my church. OK, you can ask, but please do so privately.

Now, #1…I have a clear picture of what is coming. And, that being the case…I am doing the best I can to prepare my property to be ready for it. I had a great conversation a couple of weeks ago with a very spiritual man, a man called of God to be a leader in this area. He shared with me some very interesting bits of information specific to this area. Later, on the evening of July 4th several folks, people who are not members of our church, confirmed exactly the things spoken of by our church leader. It was an interesting and informative evening.

Yes, that means we had a Independence Day celebration in our little community. A community of about a dozen families. We are tucked in a small out of the way valley. We are growing closer together as a community, a consensus of purpose, a dedication to thrive, not just survive in the coming times. It was a great evening, incredible food, a marvelous spirit, and some interesting stories.

Sorry, back to my explanation…

So I’ve been getting up between 4:30 and 5:00am each day. I work outside until about noon, then take a decent lunch break and rest. Then work on the inside of the house or the shop for awhile. By the end of each afternoon I am beat! But the wood pile is larger, the road better, the parts, tools, and such are more organized, the solar system is better and getting revamped, and generally the place is coming along nicely. Unfortunately, it is at the expense of an almost elimination of me writing.

I do my best writing in the mornings when my mental capacity is at its peak. However, this time of year, mornings are also the only decent time to work outside without melting into a pile of biological goo. So by mid-afternoon when I do have some spare time…well, I just can’t think clearly enough to put into words what I see happening, my latest evaluation of equipment/gear, etc. So, I am quiet.

All that being said, I have a renewed interest is getting more information out there for folks to read and hopefully benefit from. I am working on another SitRep, I have a number of reviews I am working on, and some other things as well. I hope to start getting them out fairly soon…some as early as this week. But, I thought I owed you an explanation of why I have been so quiet.

But please don’t interpret my quietness with a message that “all is well” or that nothing of worth is happening. In our world today we are seeing history in the making…most of it not good, some very bad. But more on that later…watch for the coming SitRep.

 

 

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4th of July – Independence Day

4th-0note: I originally posted this last year on 7/4 but I thought it would be appropriate to post it again for this year. And yes, I have done some editing for this year.

Independence Day (a.k.a. 4th of July) commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. July 4th is the day for celebrating declaring independence from Great Britain. However, on July 2, 1776 the American Revolution leadership declared the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain after the American Congress had voted to do so. And the 4th is when they  actually signed the document. .

But remember, open warfare had broken out a year earlier between the tyrannical British forces and American freedom fighters.

So if this holiday, the 4th of July – Independence Day, is all about 4th-1declaring independence and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. What is the Declaration of Independence all about?

4th-2Well, just take the first 18 words of the actual document –

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands…”

The Declaration of Independence was all about dissolving the tyrannical government that had been imposed upon them by the British ruling class. In other words, the Americans were fed-up with the tyranny they lived under and were finally doing something really serious about it. The Declaration of Independence was an explanation of what they were doing and why.

But you also have to understand by what “authority” they felt they had to take such drastic actions –

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

They stated unequivocally what the problem was with the British government –

“…the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States…”

If you are reading this post you are more than likely not a first visitor to this website. And that being the case, you know I am not some blogger that wants to be all warm and fuzzy. I don’t believe in sugar-coating currents events and I damn darn sure don’t want to give false hope and impressions of what is going on or where we as a country are headed. I always want to give you the straight talk and the straight, honest answers. But remember, these are only my opinions. Seek out, research, and come to your own conclusions of what is happening in our country today (well, the last 120 years actually) and why. In this day an age of misinformation and deepfake I want you to trust no one but yourself, and hopefully your spouse. I am confident you can figure out this situation, I just want to share some thoughts that I think are important to where we are as a country right now.

The Declaration of Independence listed approximately 26 grievances against the government of Britain.  Among those I found these specific items to be especially interesting:

  1. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  2. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
  3. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  4. 4th-3He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  5. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
  6. For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  7. For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  8. For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
  9. For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  10. For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses.

Let me make a note of those just for conversation’s sake:

  1. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. Judges now “make” law, are appointed by the President, serve for life, paid by the government (who sets their pay scale), and the Supreme Court is untouchable even when ruling against the Constitution. Even the most minor federal judge in the middle of nowhere can stop the President (the entire Executive Branch) from performing their Constitutional duties. Does that sound even remotely right?
  2. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, 4th-4and eat out their substance. The layers of government bureaucracy, local level to the federal level now number in the 10’s of millions of employees. All serving in a system wherein they can arbitrarily create policy and regulation that carry the force of law. And those laws can ruin people’s lives, destroy businesses, and devastate entire communities.
  3. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. Not only do we have a huge standing Army, we have a huge standing Air Force, Navy, Marines and National Guard. We now have a situation that dwarfs what the Declaration of Independence complained about. And it costs us 100’s of billions of dollars every year. Money that we have to borrow…driving the country into bankruptcy.
  4. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. Our military now 4th-6has unlimited powers, via the NDAA, even within the borders of the US. Posse Comitatis is no longer recognized by the federal government or the military. The military is free to arrest, detain, ship to another country, or kill any US citizen within the borders of the USA by the simple order of the President, and in some cases, by local military commanders. And God-forbid you ever fall under the designation of “potential domestic terrorist”…you have no rights, no protection, no Constitution…you are at the mercy of government officials.
  5. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: Our government has now subjugated US law to UN law, agreements, and in some cases even Sharia Law. That is in direct opposition to US Constitutional law. In some legal jurisdictions now, Sharia Law (Islamic religious law) is now recognized as superior to US law. 
  6. For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: One only needs to look at the nearly 1.5million law enforcers stationed throughout every community, at every possible level of government, to understand this problem. There is little resemblance of yesterday’s peace officers to today’s fully militarized law enforcement officers who operate at the whim and will of federal guidance and political direction.
  7. For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: The political class, ruling class, is virtually immune to arrest and prosecution for the crimes they commit. We see one politician after another commit serious crimes with absolute impunity. Such is the benefit of the political ruling class. We have a two-tier judicial system…the ruling class…and everyone else.
  8. For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: This goes without saying. But it is even worse than you 4th-5might think at first pass. Not only does the government, at all levels, impose taxes on its citizens at will and without authority or permission…it also eliminates the payment of income taxes by those they wish to exempt. It has gotten so bad that over half of the country’s citizens pay no income taxes while the minority of the population support the entire country’s finances…including the immense welfare system that the majority non-taxpayers benefit from.
  9. For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:  The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the previous Patriot Act, and the present Freedom 4th-7Act…as well as a host of non-laws (Presidential Directives) have eliminated the effect of the Sixth Amendment found in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The government can, at its own discretion, deprive citizens of rights, property, money, and freedoms through the imposition of “policy” enforced by police. And they do so to the tune of 10’s of billions of dollars each year with impunity. There is little to no defense against such arbitrary civil forfeiture acts of government in today’s system. The Civil Asset Forfeiture laws allow property owned by citizens to be seized without due process, without even any criminal charges being filed. Law enforcement simply takes the property from citizens. This is done to the tune of tens of millions of dollars each year.
  10. For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses. The policy currently in use and in 4th-8force by the US government is called “rendition.”  The current policy of rendition is the government sponsored kidnapping and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one country to another to avoid the US legal system. And in so doing allows the torture and indefinite detention or execution of prisoners that the US federal government wishes to impose itself upon.

So, I guess some things haven’t changed.

Well, that isn’t exactly true:

  • We are taxed by government far more heavily now than prior to the American Revolution.
  • We are regulated by government far more so now than prior to the American Revolution.
  • The ruling government is far more controlling over the population than prior to the American Revolution.
  • As percentage of population, we have far more government officials, bureaucrats, and regulators than prior to the American Revolution.
  • 4th-9As a percentage of population, we have far more law enforcement officers than prior to the American Revolution.
  • We have far more laws, regulations, rules, policies, and codes than prior to the American Revolution.
  • As a percentage of population, we have far more politicians than prior to the American Revolution.
  • As a percentage of population, we have far more people in jails and prisons than prior to the American Revolution.

Pretty much according to every negative aspect of life prior to the American Revolution, we have it tenfold worse here in our lives…in our good ol’ USA. Right here, right now…in our day and age!

So what does that mean? To answer that question let’s look at who signed the Declaration of Independence:

Adams, John
Adams, Samuel
Bartlett, Josiah
4th-13Braxton, Carter
Chase, Samuel
Clark, Abraham
Clymer, George
Ellery, William
Floyd, William
Franklin, Benjamin
Gerry, Elbridge
Gwinnett, Button
Hall, Lyman
Hancock, John
Harrison, Benjamin
Hart, John
Hewes, Joseph
Heyward Jr., Thomas
Hooper, William
Hopkins, Stephen
Hopkinson, Francis
Huntington, Samuel
Jefferson, Thomas
Lee, Francis Lightfoot
Lee, Richard Henry
Lewis, Francis
Livingston, Philip
Lynch Jr., Thomas
McKean, Thomas
Middleton, Arthur
Morris, Lewis
Morris, Robert
Morton, John
Nelson Jr., Thomas
Paca, William
Paine, Robert Treat
Penn, John4th-13a
Read, George
Rodney, Caesar
Ross, George
Rush, Benjamin
Rutledge, Edward
Sherman, Roger
Smith, James
Stockton, Richard
Stone, Thomas
Taylor, George
Thornton, Matthew
Walton, George
Whipple, William
Williams, William
Wilson, James
Witherspoon, John
Wolcott, Oliver
Wythe, George

Collectively how do we refer to these men today?

We call them, or at least use to call them, freedom fighters, patriots, honorable men, and Founding Fathers. We revere them, we honor them, we appreciate their great sacrifices that they made in founding our country and providing a rich heritage of freedom, rights and liberty.

But what if all of that Declaration of Independence stuff was all occurring in today’s world?

What if a group of well-known and honorable men got together, outlined a long list of unjust tyrannical actions of today’s federal government against US citizens?

And then these pillars of society declared that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish that government, and to institute new government. What would happen to these individuals?

Well, let’s look at what DHS and the FBI has to say about it.

You are considered a potential domestic terrorist if you are any of the following:

•    4th-14Americans who believe their “way of life” is under attack;
•    Americans who are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”;
•    People who consider themselves “anti-global” (presumably those who are wary of the loss of American sovereignty);
•    Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”;
•    Americans who are “reverent of individual liberty”;
•    People who “believe in conspiracy theories that involve grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty;”
•    Anti-abortion advocates (a.k.a. Pro-Life).
•    Bulk purchasers of food.
•    People who pay cash.
•    People who want internet privacy.
•    People who display “liberty” or “freedom” oriented bumper stickers.
•    People who display the American flag.

4th-10So there is little doubt if the Declaration of Independence was written and signed today, all of those original Founding Fathers, all those patriots, would be swept up in massive FBI raids, using no-knock warrants with fully-militarized SWAT forces.

What does that tell you about the condition of our country today?

What does that say of our freedoms, rights and liberties?

What does it say of our massive system of government, especially at the federal level?

What does it all have to do with an “emergency preparedness” website?

Let me make it real clear for you…A major threat to America today is the police state. No, not the threat of a police state…the growing police state that we live under right now. And that very same police state that grows ever stronger each and every day.

At some point an event will occur, and the country will be thrown into confusion and chaos the likes of which you have never ever seen before in history. And when that happens the grid will come smashing down and it will come down completely. When that happens I want you and your family to be prepared. Better yet I want you to have a group of like-minded preparedness folks organized and supportive of each other. And best of all…if you could have a whole community ready for emergencies and disasters…that would be my dream!

Folks it is coming. I assure you of that. Our country, our government can’t survive much longer…history has proven that over and over again. Please prepare yourself and your family for the emergencies and disasters that are coming.

In the mean time, because your are prepared, you will be ready for wildfires, recessions, hurricanes, earthquakes, unemployment, retirement, epidemics/pandemics, and most other natural and man-made disasters as well. And because you are prepared you shall not fear.

Just please understand what we are dealing with right now…and what is coming in the near future. Please prepare yourself and your family. And while you’re at it…enjoy your 4th of July, Independence Day, by remembering what this day represents, who was there originally, why they were there, and what principles they believed in.

Please prepare!

Be a modern day patriot…be a Founding Father!

 

 

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In my opinion…and I ask you to…

note: It took me ten days to write and edit this article to make it read close to what I have in my head and in my heart. I asked my wife to read the article last night for editing and content. She complimented me on the content and gave no suggestions on changes. She did however tell me the article was too long and not many people would read it because of that. She felt that in today’s world people don’t want to take the kind of time it would take to read the entire article. She suggested I reduce the content without watering down the message.

I thought about it for a while I shared with her I wasn’t going reduce the article’s length. I told her most people might not read it because it was too long and I was OK with that. Some folks would read it regardless of its length. I went on to say I am not trying to reach everybody, I am only trying to reach those few who who will actually care enough to invest the time, respect what I have to say, and are willing to help change what is happening now. I hope you are one of those people that I can reach…and together we can make a difference, serve each other, and make things just a little better. If not you and me…then who?


Well, it’s time for me to run my mouth about what I see happening. Some of you are not going to like what I have to say…I mean really not like it. Some of you might completely agree. Some I am sure will think about what I say and weigh it against their own opinions and thoughts to see if they might find value in what I’ve written. To all…I am saying what I believe and believe what I say. I am not saying these things to alienate or to please. I am not writing this lightly, I take it seriously. I am sharing my voice to hopefully, in some small way, help resolve the situation we find ourselves in by getting folks to think and then act accordingly. And our current situation…well, it is horrible and getting worse. As with most things worth solving, it’s going to be hard. And only level-headed, decent, understanding, moral, ethical, unbiased, and thoughtful folks are going to make the effort and invest the time to help with that change.

You might be thinking…Why is AH writing this article now? OK, fair enough. Answer = Desperation. No, I’m not desperate. The situation in the country right now is desperate. The forces of evil are winning and we are losing any hope of improving our wretched condition. I write this article trying to do something to influence folks to do better, to be better, to help make this desperate situation less evil, less desperate. If you are not willing to be open to ideas that might work, then please don’t read on. If you are open minded, honest, a decent human being who cares about the future of this country AND believes in the Constitution and our country’s founding principles…then I write this article for you…and for our future.

One of the reasons I’ve been relatively quiet for a couple of weeks is due to my research, verifying what I feel to be true, and listening to a wide variety of opinions and views. Then I have given hours and hours of pondering to what I feel and also validating everything against my two standards; 1) eternal gospel principles, and, 2) the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights). This article, an opinion piece, is the result of all that time and effort. I hope you get something out of it. Over the ten days it has taken me to write this article I’ve learned a lot about myself, our country, our situation, and the two paths that will dictate our future.

There are two aspects of the situation we collectively find ourselves in…two simple but opposing forces…good vs. evil.

Let me address the easy part first. Looting is wrong and illegal. Riotous behavior that results in the destruction of property is wrong and illegal. Physically harming another (assault), other than in self-defense, is wrong and illegal. Those people doing any of these activities should be arrested, charged, put on trial, and allow a jury to determine guilt or innocence…and then a court to apply an appropriate sentence. Yes, I am calling for justice for the wrong doers in our midst.

Next…protesting is legal and constitutionally guaranteed. Boisterous, loud, obnoxious, ignorant, animated behavior while protesting is not illegal and is actually also a guaranteed right under the Bill of Rights.

Also…I personally have absolutely no problem with protestors using streets, roads, and freeways to do their protesting. It is perfectly fine with me. And yes, even that behavior is not illegal. At least not according to the Constitution. If drivers are “inconvenienced”…too bad, so sad. I support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights…NOT a driver’s level of comfort and convenience. If you don’t like getting held up in traffic…then take a different route that avoids the protest. If you are surprised by a protest and get caught up in a traffic jam…TOO FREAKING BAD! That is your fault for having pathetic situational awareness.

I believe it a God-given right to defend yourself from bodily harm, to defend your property from destruction or theft, thus enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as our Founding Fathers clearly and unequivocally stated.

OK, that pretty much should cover the easy side of expressing my opinion. But, before I leave this part, let me share one thing…


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.


In case you didn’t recognize the above…it is from the Declaration of Independence. That document, hallowed in nature and form, is the founding basis of the American Revolution that ultimately created the United States of America. The first Constitutional Republic governed by the people, for the people…the longest running Constitutional Republic in the history of the world. A simple declaration that states government gets it power/authority by consent of those it governs vs people getting their rights from those that govern them.

That being said, there is a fundamental issue at hand…is what is happening now in America justified under the Declaration of Independence? Or more succinctly…is it legal in regards to the spirit and letter of the law?

Before anyone can answer that question let’s look at a view of things that may make some folks uncomfortable, others will become mad as hell, some won’t believe it, others will simply dismiss it. So be it…don’t read it if you don’t want to…no one is making you read anything. I am simply expressing my right under the First Amendment…freedom of speech. And of course…you are free to disagree, free to not read it, free to voice an opposing opinion, free to choose according to the dictates of your conscious and heart. At least we are free to do so now.

Let me challenge some of you directly at this point. No, not everyone. Some of you have already done your research and learned truth, learned facts, learned to see reality and understand what it means. To everyone else…please listen.

The basis of the conflict we see in America today has three roots or pillars, that is driving it.

The first is the easiest to see and recognize it for what it is. There is an organized effort in this country to overthrow the Constitution. And by doing so usher in a totalitarian state…a police state. A state run by an elite few for their benefit, for their gain, for their comfort. They desire one thing…ultimate, uncontested, unrestricted power. Plain and simple…they want power…power over everyone and everything. There is no political pigeon-holing those behind this effort by applying labels such as Progressives, Liberals, Communists, Fascists, Republicans, Democrats, Left, Right, Conservatives, etc. Why? Because those that who have the insatiable desire for a totalitarian state are part of all of it…all of those groups have totalitarian foot soldiers and leadership in them…some more than others.

Second root/pillar are those folks who have been historically repressed, or, through individual and systematic efforts, have been inhibited from reaching their full potential. Yes, you read that mouthful correctly. But, before you get too carried away let me explain. In the USA slavery was a part of life, a way of life, cultural in nature, form, and function; and enshrined by all levels of government at the very beginning. Slavery was based in two factors/beliefs; 1) it was economically beneficial to use a person’s labor and not compensating them, 2) some races were viewed as not equal mentally or spiritually.

Official government sanctioned, legal, Constitutional slavery was finally overthrown barely 150 years ago. Unfortunately, the laws preventing equality were not overturned until less than 60 years ago…and then only at the federal level. It then took decades of legal battles in the courts to force those legally guaranteed rights upon states, counties, cities, and even businesses.

But an interesting, albeit sinister, event took place the same year that the federal civil rights legislation was passed. That event…a touted and praised program designed to control the same people that the civil rights laws were meant to free. They even labeled it The Great Society. It was anything but.

So while a federal legal precedence was being molded to provide unquestionable and legal equal rights…another government program was invoked that ensured those same people would be repressed, controlled, and worst of all…used. Used as puppets, and in some cases as foot soldiers in the totalitarian cause I mentioned earlier. The Great Society was anything but.

The third leg/pillar of our current events is sheer stupidity. Yes, maybe that is a bit too harsh…I admit that. But it is true none the less. Some of it is superficial stupidity, some of it is much deeper and rooted in bias that knows almost no bounds. And unfortunately, it is directly aiding and abetting those behind the very first pillar I mentioned above…the lust for unmitigated power.

Let me explain the two aspects of this stupidity I speak of…

Clearly the looters and destroyers hidden among the protestors are the first part of the “stupid.” And they are so easy to see.

George Floyd is murdered by four cops who know exactly what they are doing, have been trained on how to do it, and have a long history of such behavior in a police department that is infamous for violent and illegal behavior against its citizens. OK, that event is a bad thing…and evil thing…and the spark.

But then you see morons breaking into an Apple store to steal phones, tablets, and accessories. Then their moron cousins break into stores stealing all manner of clothing that probably will never fit them. Then more of their extended moron family set fire to businesses…businesses that serve their own communities…and owned by their neighbors! Stupidity at its core…the perfect examples of it.

Now…a more complicated form of stupidity. And I readily admit that the term ”stupidity” probably shouldn’t be used in this next case. It is insulting for one. But, it may be entirely inaccurate. A much more exact term is probably something along the lines of “ignorant complicity.”

Remember the first pillar? Those are the folks  who I would deem “informed complicity.” They know exactly what is happening, why, and willfully engage to accomplish the end goal. I am not talking about those folks now. I am speaking of those who through lack of knowledge are complicit in accomplishing the same goal as outlined in the first pillar.

Now you ask…Who are they?

Well, judge a person by their actions. Or, in this case…identify a person, the ignorantly complicit, by their actions.

If the end goal is a totalitarian state, what is a primary roadblock to accomplishing that goal? Plainly it is rights, liberty, freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Or more plainly…the loss of power of the individual and the transference of that power from those individuals to the government. Once the government has a sufficient amount of that transferred power…they can completely dominate the population they oversee. And our Founding Fathers saw it in their day, revolted against it, defeated it, and put safeguards in-place to protect it from happening to the newly formed Constitutional Republic, then or in the future.

So why am I rambling on about all this instead of just identifying the remainder of the stupid…or more politely and accurately identified as the “ignorantly complicit”? I have to lay the groundwork for my opinion…or most would dismiss that simple identification out of hand.

To identify those individuals of whom I now speak I have to base my opinion on evidence. And there are multiple types of evidence; empirical evidence, anecdotal evidence, experiences of yourself and the experiences of others. Is that evidence valid and provided in context?

Well, for my research I used statistics provided by what I believe to be reliable sources. I also put most of the weight on actual events with real people resulting in real outcomes recorded on audio and video and presented in full context. I also used my own personally observed experiences…I was there and heard and saw it myself. I intentionally and purposefully avoided such pitfalls as bias, clichés, and straw-man arguments. To test my “bias” I would ask myself…Does their behavior meet a legal standard or my own personal preference? My personal preference doesn’t matter in the least…it is a matter of only legality. Meaning…is it compliant with the Constitution.

Now, when all this evidence gathering and pondering was done I was able to identify what I feel is the problem. I’ve heard it said before…”The problem is all of us!”  No, it is not. The collective “we” are not the problem! The problem is bias and ambivalence.

Bias is a tendency, inclination, or prejudice for or against something or someone. Ambivalence is simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (such as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action.

OK, about now you are asking how in the heck did I come up with that. And man, I agree with you…how the heck did I come with that load in relation to what is happening in America today!

Let me explain a few situations or examples to help clarify my answer to the “problem” infecting America.

Example: The death of George Floyd. There is all kinds of video capturing his death. You can see multiple angles, all of the interaction that took place, hear the audio, and watch him die. Now, what came into your mind?

  • Another cop killing another black man!
  • A cop just doing his job!
  • A cop refusing to listen to a dying man!
  • A criminal resisting arrest!

And obviously the list could go on at some length. The problem we have is that our personal bias provides us our own narrative. Our ambivalence causes us to retreat into our personal safe zone of bias. Thus, we lock ourselves into our own reality regardless of the facts of true reality.

When looked at in actual reality, based on facts, the key facts are:

  • The store clerk reported a non-violent crime that actually falls under the prevue of the Secret Service – “…integrity of our currency…”.
  • A police officer performed an illegal/criminal act.
  • The suspect told the officers he was dying.
  • Four police officers ignored that information.
  • The suspect begged for his life.
  • Four police officers ignored those pleas.
  • The suspect had an adversarial relationship through prior employment with the lead police officer that actually killed him.
  • The lead police officer had a long history of on-the-job performance complaints against him.
  • The police department has a history of “use of force” issues, including killings, and they have been investigated multiple times for that problem.
  • A suspect, only a suspect, died while in police custody…the ultimate judge, jury, and executioner situation.
  • Three other police officers stood by and allowed the lead police officer to commit a criminal act and watched a man die in their custody without taking any action to prevent it.

Those are facts…period…end of story. The ultimate failure of “To serve and protect”…unfortunately.

Here is the problem…bias and ambivalence. Good people have been taught/trained since early childhood to respect and obey police. Good people have been taught/trained since early childhood to feel that criminals should get what they deserve. Good people have been taught/trained since early childhood that police are the good guys. Good people have been taught/trained since early childhood that some groups of people commit more crimes than others. Good people have been taught/trained since early childhood…fill in the blank. All of it creates “bias” in our personalities.

Then we see a police officer with his knee placed on a man’s neck, in the process of killing him, watching three other police officers assisting in that death…well, that’s where the contradictions begin.

Our brains begin to form a mental picture:

  • Cops (good guys) dealing with a criminal (bad guy).
  • Cops (good guys) struggling with a criminal (bad guy) who must be resisting arrest.
  • The bad guy doesn’t look or act like me.
  • Crowd forming (more bad guys) yelling at officer (good guys) to stop killing him (bad guy).
  • Cops (good guys) in more danger from the crowd (bad guys).
  • The people in the crowd don’t look or act like me.
  • Man (bad guy) dies.
  • Oh well…he probably deserved it anyways.

All of the above is based strictly on bias.

The problem lies with reality:

  • The man is not a criminal – he hasn’t been convicted or even charged with a crime. He is “suspected” of trying to use currency that a convenience store clerk thought might be counterfeit.
  • The man is not a “bad guy” – he hasn’t done anything in this situation to warrant that label…NOTHING!
  • The police perform a criminal act by knelling, with practically his full weight, on the man’s neck.
  • The police ignore the man’s pleas for his life…that he is dying.
  • A man dies as a result of the illegal act of a police officer.

And that causes a short circuit in our brains called ambivalence. When faced with conflicting information, confrontation based on conflicting principles, we will usually retreat into our comfort zone. And that comfort zone is usually composed mostly of bias vs actual fact-based reality.

So then the whole situation gets worse…much, much worse.

Since the whole thing is caught on video from multiple angles there is no room for incorrect reporting by the police. And their intentional misrepresenting what actually happened in their reports would be quite natural. They don’t want to get into any trouble for killing a man so their natural tendency would be to lie about it. Or, at the very least, grossly misrepresent the situation. But, they found they could not do so faced with a significant volume of video/audio showing facts, truth, and reality.

How does it get worse? A group of people who feel oppressed takes up the “cause” of the man…the killing by police officers. Now the question is…”Are their feelings justified?”

First off, feelings don’t have to be justified to produce a reaction. It is called “pathos”, simply meaning what a person does, or how they react, is based on what just excited their passions or emotions. But, we can still ask the question…”Is their reaction justified?” Again, their reaction doesn’t have to be justified…no, not at all. Why? Because it is an action based a feeling and feelings are seldom based on logic, facts, truth, and reality.

But, is this situation and resulting action(s) based on truth, facts, and reality?

The crux of the matter is police violence towards a black person. And in this case, four police officers killing a black man. Is there any historical context for this? The answer is an unqualified “Yes!”

Historical facts…

  • The United States was founded legally approving of slavery.
  • Most slaves were black.
  • The Constitution didn’t even recognize slaves as a fully complete person.
  • The United States, business, and individuals economically benefited from slavery for over 80 years.
  • Even after slavery was abolished extreme racial bias existed and was even formally approved of by the Supreme Court.
  • In the mid-1950’s the civil rights movement began in earnest with peaceful protests for equal civil rights and against racism.

So how did police officers conduct themselves during those original peaceful protests? It is almost unimaginable how horrific the police behaved. It was the very obvious essence of evil. They used high pressure water hoses against the peaceful protestors, beat them with clubs, used attack dogs to maim them, and shot more than just a few. Even young children were victims at the hands of police…those who touted the motto “To serve and protect”!

So there is no doubt that facts, truth, reality is there that the civil rights advocates have a very valid concern when dealing with police. Yes, that means the evidence is clear and compelling. If you try to justify that abhorrent behavior you are probably coming from a perspective based on bias.

But, do police today have a fact-based track record of using excessive force against people? And in this case…regardless of the race of the person.

Here is where I did hours and hours and hours of research. For over 10 years I’ve been writing on the excessive use of force by police, the militarization of police, and their general misconduct. Over the last 6 months I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of video based examples of police conduct. And I am telling you point blank…we have a serious problem in the law enforcement community! I have dubbed it the “comply or die!” mentality.

And before I go any further…don’t try using a false narrative or a straw-man argument against me…it doesn’t and won’t work. I’ve done my homework, I’ve done my research, I’ve spent the time finding out the fact vs fiction. And no, please don’t try the old tired line…being a police officer is dangerous work. No, it is not. It barely breaks into the top 50 most dangerous professions. Even an on the road salesman is a more dangerous profession. And yes…based on BLS statistics.

So there exists 1,000’s of videos (unedited, in context) of police misconduct…everything from sexual assault (sometimes with minors), to planting evidence, to outright murder. And hearing the police officers talk about people it is obvious that many are racist. Actually, many just about hate everyone who isn’t one of them…a badge carrier.

And about now I am sure there are more than a few folks who might be saying…Those are only a few bad apples, the majority of LEOs are good guys. Really??? Show me statistics, evidence that it is only a handful of bad apples.

But, better yet, answer this…if it is only a handful of bad apples…then why don’t the “good guys” arrest the bad apples and put them in prison. That would result in two things; 1) criminals wouldn’t be wearing a badge doing terrible things to people, 2) civilians in general would respect LEOs far more than they do.

Now, let me take a minute to state two things; 1) not all cops are bad, and Peace Officers are good guys, 2) there has been a change in the last few months, and especially the last few weeks, where District Attorneys and Prosecuting Attorneys have shown the moral courage and guts to prosecute criminal cops. To them I say…THANK YOU!

Now back to the protestors…

They have a historical context of abuse at the hands of police…a terrible and disgusting history of such. They have current and clear evidence over the last couple of decades of police being able to abuse people, kill people, falsely charge people, etc. And lastly…they’ve had enough of it! If you can’t see that…then once again you are probably blinded by bias.

So these folks are sick and tired of suffering…and being killed…at the hands of police and they want their voices to be heard. I say good on them!!!!  That is what the Constitution and Bill of Rights is all about. Our country was founded on principles that they are currently employing.

Let me reprint something from earlier in my article…


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.


The questions for most of us would sound something like this…

  • Do we approve of their right to protest, to attempt redress of their grievances?
  • Do we understand their plight, the historical evidence, the facts?
  • Do we support the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our country’s founding document The Declaration of Independence and the principles outlined therein?

Or, do we sit there watching the news and saying something like this…

  • They need to get a job!
  • He got what was coming to him.
  • The police were just trying to do their job.
  • They were just following orders.

Or statements that might be far more gross in tone and content.

Before you launch into some sort of tirade…I am not talking about the looting and arson. Those are criminal acts and should be dealt with appropriately. I am speaking of protestors. Do you support their cause or not…or at least their right to protest?

If not…you have a problem because you are not dealing in reality, you are dealing from bias.

As a Christian I believe there is sin. Sin is violating God’s outline of appropriate behavior for us. I also believe that sin is sin. However, commonsense tells me that some sin is worse than others. Not loving your neighbor as yourself is violating the actual words of Christ. I consider that a sin. However, murdering your neighbor is far, far worse. So for me…there is a degree of sin…a severity scale if you will.

So let me ask you a couple of things…

  • Is shooting peaceful protestors with rubber bullets worse than blocking traffic?
  • Is yelling at police worse than being hit with flash-bang grenades?
  • Is throwing a water bottle at a riot control police officer in full protective riot gear worse than being gassed with CS gas (commonly known as tear gas)? Oh, by the way…CS gas is outlawed by the Geneva Convention for warfare. But, police all over the United States use it against unarmed civilians.
  • Is protesting and blocking traffic worse than using the military against civilians?

I could go on but I believe you get my point.

Who is the biggest threat and/or who is the most dangerous right now in these circumstances?

Great question and relatively easy to answer…just apply Risk Mitigation principles to it. In other words…What risks/threats have the highest probability of occurring and if they do occur how severe is the impact?

So right now what are the top threats to you, to your community, and to our country? Based on probability and severity here is my list of the greatest threats/risks/dangers:

  1. Military
  2. Law enforcement
  3. Law & Order extremists
  4. Rioters/looters/criminals

My reasoning?

  1. Military – This is a no brainer…they have the most weapons, the most powerful weapons, largest numbers of personnel, propensity to simply “follow orders”, and history of violence against US civilians.
  2. Law enforcement – This is an obvious one as well, but for different as well as similar reasons. They have a wide range of weapons available to them and in significant quantities. They have large numbers of personnel, mobilize quickly, and are well organized. They also, for the most part, have a propensity to simply “follow orders”. And there is a notable number of current instances of violence against civilians. And many law enforcement personnel right now are stressed, are questioning their civilian leadership, in some areas officers are calling in sick when they are not, and some officers are at times refusing to answer radios calls to come to the aid of those they swore to serve and protect.
  3. Law & Order extremists – These folks are a little more difficult to identify. However, they fall mostly into two groups; 1) political orientation, 2) philosophical beliefs. While the two on the surface may sound similar, they are not. Political orientation that I speak of is in terms of Republicans, conservatives, and others that believe that the protestors are somehow violating the law and should be stopped. They tend to not understand the difference between protestors advocating for a cause and looters/rioters committing crimes. They also tend to group all protestors with rioters and looters. There is also a tendency with these individuals to advocate for extreme measures when dealing with protestors, especially if there are some looters and rioters mixed in with them. For example: use of tear gas (CS), rubber bullets, stun grenades, and batons to beat civilians. They also tend to be vocal supporters of “shoot to kill” all looters. And they also support the use of the military in dealing with civil disturbances. So why do these extremists believe in such things? Fundamentally they do not understand the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the founding principles of the United States, and they almost always, through their “law & order” clichés believe in a police state and similar political ideology.

The other group I referred to are those with specific philosophical beliefs. Mainly it is a philosophy that they are defending their community, their families, and themselves against injury or property damage. While that is an admirable goal, there is one slight problem…ignorance. For those who maintain this philosophy and are trained with their weapon, educated in the law, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and understand “use of force” there is no problem at all. Actually, those folks are to be respected, admired, and applauded because they reflect Committee of Safety and Militias that were formed in Colonial America to oppose British oppression. The problem comes in where armed groups of individuals attempt to protect their communities, families, and themselves who are not trained with their weapon, not educated in the law, do not understand the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, and do not understand “use of force”. These folks are dangerous…period. I rate the probability pretty low because the chances of someone encountering one of these folks in a conflict would be pretty low. But, if the encounter takes place it will be unstable and the severity could be as extreme as loss of life.

  1. Rioters/Looters/Criminals – I rate these folks dead last in probability based on the chance that it could affect you. Well, I should add…if you are maintaining Situational Awareness. Simply avoid areas that are prone to protests and riots. Avoid becoming involved in public conflicts and avoid areas where curfews exist. Avoid not just high crime areas, but also, crime prone areas. I rate severity pretty low because if you use common sense encountering such a situation is low. And if you did encounter this situation you can more than likely extricate yourself with little difficulty due to a larger numbers of folks…getting lost in the crowd. Or if needed…appropriate use of force to defend yourself or your family.

Charted out it looks like this:

So now what? What is my point? Why am I using my time…maybe wasting your time…to write all of this?

For me it is simple…I am asking you to…

  • Drop bias
  • See reality
  • Understand context
  • Put everything into perspective
  • Support the Constitution
  • Support the Bill of Rights
  • Truly understand The Declaration of Independence and support it
  • Do not support big government
  • Do not support a police state
  • Do not support the use of the military against civilians
  • Support reforming police departments across the country
  • Oppose federal/national standards for local police
  • Support the demilitarization of police
  • Defend truth
  • Defend righteous people and causes
  • Understand others
  • Defend your life, defend your family, defend your property
  • Defend others who can’t defend themselves

Most of all…stand up as an American…defend the founding principles that made this the greatest country in the world…save our country before they have complete control.

I am asking a lot…I know. Many of you may not be up for it. Some of you are already fighting mad at me for challenging your bias. More are mad at me already for speaking the truth, using facts, historical context, evidence to plead my case. So be it.

I am looking for those few people who still have morals, integrity, courage, fortitude, and the desire to return our country to a stable foundation based on two things; 1) enteral gospel principles, 2) the Constitution.

Are you one of them?

I think you are!

 

 

 

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Threats, Risk, & Mitigation: Part 4

In this series of articles based on threats and risks to the “prepper” I have covered a lot of ground. My goal was to provide all preppers a Grid-Down anarchy lawlessness riotvalid and reliable system of threat/risk assessment by which those risks/threats could be ranked. Once ranked, you can design a plan to mitigate the associated risks and threats for any given event.

Back in the Introduction I identified the two parts that threats/risks pose to the prepper, they are; 1) probability, 2) severity. And you state it as, “How likely will the event occur from now and how severe will the outcome be?”

We do have impact through manipulation of probability and severity and thus can reduce the events impact on us, our family, our group and our community. And to more fully understand how that happens I went through the vehicle accident mitigation efforts and how companies and government reduced both the probability and severity of vehicle accidents. You can do the same when it comes to planning for the events that will plunge you into an emergency, disaster, or even a grid-down event.

In “Part #2” I touched on the Concern Level and the time-frame in which a plan needed to be created. The Concern Levels are Little, Moderate, Serious, and Critical. Obviously all levels to be mitigated but the Critical concern level needs to be addressed, a plan devised to mitigate the problems…and to do so quickly.

In my last article I wrote about what I feel are the most pressing issues that my family and I are facing at this particular time. Based on the ratings I assigned to each potential event here are the events in order of concern with the highest concern first:

When I charted it out in “Part #3” it looked like this –

Threat Matrix PersonalSo now is the time to figure out how to mitigate each event. For learning purposes I will go in reverse Concern Level order.

Heart Attack –

Reduce the probability of occurrence & time frame: I eat reasonably healthy, exercise regularly, have a complete Heart Attack is a prepper concern, risk, threat during grid-downphysical every three years. I have also educated myself on what the warning signs look like. I also don’t go too far beyond what I feel are my physical limitations. I am married and go to church which also statistically reduces my chances of a heart attack.

Reduce the severity should it occur: Those around me daily are trained in CPR. In our little group of friends that hangout together we have a couple of well trained medical folks. I came across a bottle of “nitro” that is part of my medkit as well as aspirin.

EMP or Nuclear Strike –

Reduce the probability of occurrence & time frame: There is nothing I can do to affect this item except at the ballot EMP Nuclear Strike is a concern, threat, risk for preppers during grid-down.box. I vote libertarian which tends to lend itself to voting for the person least likely to use a nuclear weapon on someone else, and thus, the other country to use a nuclear weapon on us. Considering the only use of a nuclear weapon was at the hands of a very liberal/socialist/progressive/democrat and same for the near use of one, I feel I am doing the right thing.

 

Reduce the severity should it occur: I live in an area that is not attractive to a direct strike. I have tools and gear that can be used without power. I have some gear that I have taken modest steps towards protecting against an EMP strike.

Invasion of USA –

Reduce the probability of occurrence & time frame: There is nothing I can do to affect this item except at the ballot Invasion of USA is a concern, threat, risk for preppers during grid-down.box. I vote for the person least likely to get us into a situation where we have foreign troops landing on American soil. Note: I think it is a virtual impossibility that any country, or combination of countries, can or will invade the USA.

Reduce the severity should it occur: I looked at the disruptions that were likely to occur in this event. They were: food distribution disruption, communications break down, power disruptions, martial law, violence and potential for occupation. To mitigate these I have taken the following steps: 1) I have food storage and the ability to grow more. 2) I have various capabilities to obtain information via emergency radio, I have Ham radio capability as well as alternative means of communicating. 3) I have the ability to provide minimal power via generator and solar. 4) I have the ability to “bug-in” for a sustained period of time. I have obtained skills to assist me in resisting martial law. 5) I have means by which my family can defend itself against violence. 6) We have multiple levels of planning to “bug-out” to alternative locations that are less likely to be occupied.

Epidemic / Pandemic –

Reduce the probability of occurrence & time frame: I have no opportunity to affect either of these events on any Epidemic Pandemic is a concern, threat, risk for preppers during grid-down.reasonable scale. On a family scale we can self-quarantine for a substantial amount of time removing our exposure to others. We have personal protective equipment that can add a layer of protection should we be forced to be around potential carriers. We have multiple levels of planning to “bug-out” to alternative locations that are less likely to be occupied.

Reduce the severity should it occur: We have a basic supply of over-the-counter medications. We also have a supply of basic antibiotics. We have a significant supply of vitamins to supplement our immune system.

Stock Market Crash –

Reduce the probability of occurrence & time frame: I have no control and no input that can prevent the stock market Stock Market Crash is a concern, threat, risk for preppers during grid-down.from crashing.

Reduce the severity should it occur: While we do have some percentage of our retirement accounts in mutual funds, those funds are managed with a certain degree of safety above that which affects the stock market in general. We have the ability to move our stock based mutual funds into “cash” funds with a single phone call and trigger points set to do such. We don’t have all of our retirement funds in stock market related investments. We have some in “cash equivalents” that can be redeemed for cash almost instantly. We have other funds that are in precious metals, other commodities, and real-estate.

Retirement –

Reduce the probability of occurrence & time frame: We don’t want to reduce the probability of this event, we Retirement is also for prepperswelcome it.

Reduce the severity should it occur: We have retirement accounts and other investments that will carry us through retirement vs. dependence on Social Security. We have food storage. By the time we are both retired we should have our retirement property debt-free. We are working towards being able to provide approximately 50% of our food ourselves. Our retirement home will be off-grid and thus reduce the costs of utilities, etc.

Financial Collapse –

Reduce the probability of occurrence & time frame: I have no control and no input that can prevent the financial Financial System Collapse is a concern, threat, risk for preppers during grid-down.system from crashing.

Reduce the severity should it occur: We have a cash emergency fund. We have a precious metals emergency fund. We have other commodities that have real value. We are working fervently towards a debt-free retirement property. We have part of our retirement investments in a “cash equivalent” that can be redeemed within hours should the need arise.

Flu –

Reduce the probability of occurrence & time frame: I have no opportunity to affect this event on a large scale. On a Flu is a concern, threat, risk for preppers during grid-down.family scale we can self-quarantine for a substantial amount of time removing our exposure to others. We have personal protective equipment that can add a layer of protection should we be forced to be around potential carriers. We have multiple levels of planning to “bug-out” to alternative locations that are less likely to be occupied.

Reduce the severity should it occur: We have a basic supply of over-the-counter medications. We also have a supply of basic antibiotics. We have a significant supply of vitamins to supplement our immune system.

Police State –

Reduce the probability of occurrence & time frame: This event is inevitable, every civilization that has ever existed Police State Militarization Of Policehas ended up as a police state. We are already well into a police state at this point in our country’s history. It has become institutionally and culturally embedded. There is no reversing it. However, that being said, I can be aware of it currently, and each step in the future where it gets worse. I can seek out those political candidates that oppose it and vote for them. I can protest steps that entrench it even more (i.e. military vehicles, automatic weapons, grenade launchers, etc. being given to local police departments). Finally, I can speak of it whenever and wherever appropriate to those who will listen to reason and logic, helping to make others aware of it so they too can take steps to resist it. Preppers need to fight against the police state.

Reduce the severity should it occur: This is a tough one. I can basically take all the “Severity” steps listed above and place them under this single event. I must have the following ability:

1 – Ability to defend myself and my family against oppression and violence.
2 – Ability to provide medical care to my family, group and community.
3 – Ability to communicate with others outside of normal media and communication channels.
4 – Ability to provide food without normal dependence on the regular food distribution chain.
5 – Ability to provide, filter and purify water.
6 – Ability to provide a minimal amount of power outside of the normal power grid.
7 – Ability to identify and group together with others who also wish to resist police state occupation (i.e. martial law) and organize accordingly.
8 – Ability to “bug-out” to alternative locations where the police state might not be as bad.

To be able to accomplish that list of missions/tasks, I need to:

1 – Have a sufficient supply of weapons and ammunition on-hand.
2 – Have sufficient medical training and supplies.
3 – Have multiple layers of non-standard communications capability.
4 – Have food storage and ability to grow a sustained food supply.Oath Keepers fight against the american police state.
5 – Have water storage and the ability to obtain more. Plus have filtration and purification capability.
6 – Have a generator, stabilized fuel, and the associated technology to use it. Have a solar generator and properly sized storage capacity.
7 – Find people that feel like I do and coordinate a response plan.
8 – Identify people outside of my area that are willing to enter into a reciprocal agreement to take in each other should the need arise.

What was interesting that I am sure you may have just recognized is this…

“Prepare for the worst and hope for the best!”

By preparing for the worst possible scenario that is inevitable you actually have prepared for all the other potential events. The only difference is what event to prepare for first.

I would suggest going through your list of Potential Events and rate each one. Then chart them out so you can see preppers need to Take Action to prepare for grid-down emergencies and disasterswhich your greatest threat with the most risk is. Once that is identified start looking for what the individual components of the event are. Now, take that list and start identifying what you can do to limit the probability of the event from occurring, or should the even occur what can you do to reduce the severity of the impact it will have on you, your family, your group, and your community. The resulting list will give you clear indication on where you should focus your time, energy and money.

I would suggest that you not look beyond the “community” level at this point. Actually, I would start with the steps to reduce the impact to just your family. Once that is firmly accomplished then move on to your “group” and then finally “community” can be your final goal.

I hope this series of articles has helped you with a valid and reliable way to identify threats/risks and how to minimize their impact through preparedness activities. As I close this series of articles I would propose to you that this system will also work in any environment where risk/threats must be assessed and mitigated. That would especially be true to mission planning. In the planning process identify the risks associated with the mission. Then work down the list of each risk on how to reduce the probability that the risk would occur, and then if it occurred how could the severity of impact be reduced.

This is a valuable tool in the prepper’s toolbox, good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009 - 2020 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
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