Aftermath: The Rush to Do -Something-

Minutes after reports started coming in, and long before the blood was dry or even before all the surviving-but-injured victims were transported to trauma centers—-social media was ablaze.

With nothing but the usual.

Political commentators and [some] media professionals trotted out their stale lines of rhetoric, all basking in the blood of the aftermath. The Usual Suspects, those who use every opportunity to blame the guns as they always do, blamed the guns as they always do. It seems everyone has the simple, pat answer.

But there are a couple of problems: Complex issues rarely have cinch answers, and we overrun our headlights.

Westerners in general and Americans in particular tend to be reactive and not proactive. We like to solve problems as they come instead of performing a little preventative maintenance. A semi-recent example of this was the collapse of a bridge on interstate 35 in Minnesota. Its name was Bridge 9340, and on the first of August in 2007 it crumbled into the Mississippi river during rush hour. Thirteen people were killed and 145 people were injured during the destruction. Though it had been inspected, for years it was labeled as “structurally deficient” and no real fixes occurred. The ensuing investigation uncovered design flaws that applied to hundreds of bridges across the United States.

So why didn’t we fix it? Because none of them had fallen down. Until one did.

Bridge 9340

Spending time and money on preventative measures is viewed by some as wasteful, because the direct result of said time and money is something not happening. Proving the efficacy of a preventative measure, especially an expensive one, can be considerably hard to do. Of course, when that bridge does fall, immediately people exclaim “but how could this have happened and who could have seen this coming?!?” I imagine a room full of civil engineers, shaking their heads slowly and looking at their feet–some of them had been saying it was going to happen for years.

In the immediate aftershock of any tragic incident, we feel the need to do something; it doesn’t really matter if it will work, so long as it makes some people “feel safe”. If we’re not careful we lose sight of long term planning, and overrun our headlights.

Politicians of course exploit this about our nature and will sell fear to pursue their own agendas.

Whether you think we’re at war with radical Islam is immaterial–while it may take two to tango, only one side has to decide to throw a punch to start a conflict. They’ve already been punching on American soil; the attack over the weekend was just the latest hook shot in a conflict that will absolutely continue regardless of your personal feelings on the matter. I can’t tell you the long term answers to Islamofacist terrorism, but I know they won’t be presented or pushed by our current political circus in a quip on a news clip.

So what can we do? Take a critical look at this incident and others and come up with some practical advice.

  • Fully understand and accept that you are your own first line of defense. No one is coming to save you.
  • Carry a gun or other form of defensive implement whenever possible and train in its use. Gorillafritz wrote a fantastic piece about weapons in non-permissive environments here.
  • The exact same applies for medical gear and training. You don’t need a full Corpsman kit and some options are easily stashed away until needed.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings
  • Help those that need help, hurt those that need hurt.

There are no guarantees in life, but if you control what you can you stand a better chance.

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