Best defense: Never forget that complacency kills
Last Thursday, a released dash cam from the Pasadena police showed a man fatally shot by a police officer. The cam footage shows the suspect pointing a gun at the officer and being shot seconds after.
In such case, when you point a gun at the police, the results are not hard to anticipate. I watched the clip and I don’t want to discuss about the details in the scene. What got my attention is actually the reaction of the officer and the way he acted when faced danger.
In situations like these, the reaction you have is a life saver.
I spent a lot of years in the military and during 2005-2006 I was for some time in Iraq. Every single day I saw a sign that was strategically placed and impossible to miss: complacency kills. The signs were at every exit control points for every base and FOB and the message was clear.
If you let your guard down you’re dead.
A message that was intended to keep us alive. When you are a soldier and leave the base, you are tempted to forget about vigilance as long as you did it times before and nothing happened. But without being ready you can easily get ambushed or hit by an IED.
Being hyper vigilant makes sense in a war zone and trusting your instincts can make the difference between life and dead. I’m not suggesting that vigilance will keep you out of trouble, but it will certainly mitigate the risk of getting caught with your pants down.
From this point of view I am glad that the officer had his head on a swivel. And being prepared and trained for force escalation can make a difference one day.
Because of the military I am particularly sensitive to noises and my survival mechanism reacts with instincts shaped by “complacency kills”. Sudden bangs or just barking dog are some association I still make with possible danger. And now, after many years I have moments when I am asleep and I hear my dog barking.
While it can be just a cat, my mind anticipates with those war moments and I find myself ready for a fight while my wife walking in and wondering why I have that crazy look.
I believe that it can be a form of PTSD or as the history is calling “battle fatigue”. There are differences contexts, but basically a traumatic experience can continue to have negative effects on the psychological life and overall performance. My outdoor life keeps me away from falling in this area, but there are a lot of guys out there that fight with their memories so they don’t cause any more triggers.
I remember that we had some trees around the house. Each year, my father chopped them in such way that I believed they will never make those golden apples again. What he actually did is just putting those trees to a little stress. This way he pushed the trees to believe it’s in trouble and will work better to stay alive and produce more fruits.
Now, I don’t know that from the botanical point of view this is “right or wrong”. But, I can tell you that working under a little pressure will make you perform better.
At least this is happening to me when I’ve been under stress.
Still, you don’t have to push yourself too hard as we all have different limits. But, a healthy dose of pressure and challenge will keep you away from growing complacent. And in the matter of survival training, stepping out of the comfort zone and keep training and learning news skills is pushing you beyond your perceived limitations.
To finish this, I just want to say that you must be vigilant and push yourself everyday. There is no default mode that you can play, as you can easily fall behind.