Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Situational Awareness

August 10, 2016

Situational awareness. It's becoming a lost art. From people walking into traffic while their eyes are glued to their cellphones to Pokemon Go players who drive into a crowd, people just don't seem to be paying much attention to what's going on around them. It can be fatal. Just ask the families of some of the people killed in the Islamic terrorist attack in Nice, France. Some of those mowed down by that truck never saw it coming because they were looking at their cellphones instead of looking around them.

Those who study such things refuse to sit in the back of a restaurant, are always aware of possible avenues of escape in the eventuality of someone coming through the door with intent to harm. Their mantra, even if they practice carrying a concealed firearm, is that it's better to avoid a confrontation than to have to fight through one.

This morning I was driving the Thruway enroute to visit my mother. I was minding my own business, driving as I usually do, when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. A grey minivan was right next to me in the passing lane, except he had drifted into my lane. He wasn't cutting me off; had I not taken immediate evasive action, he would have hit me in my driver's door. I instinctively swerved onto the berm, nearly losing control, but managing to bring it back onto the road without overcorrecting. You know how you often ask yourself after witnessing some dangerous action on the road, "Where is the police when you need one?" As I regained control, a state trooper passed me, turned on his lights and pulled the other driver over. I just kept going, thankful that it was a close call instead of a rollover.

That driver may have been distracted, may have been texting, or just momentarily inattentive, but he was situationally unaware. But so was I. Had I been scanning the rear view mirrors as I drove, I would have seen him earlier and perhaps wouldn't have needed to take such evasive action. Today it turned out OK, but I got to wondering how often I'm not situationally aware, either of my physical surroundings, or of my spiritual surroundings. How often I've missed opportunities God gives me to share my faith, not noticing the distress and pain of someone right next to me, or been unaware of the subtle mechanisms of the devil as he seeks to plant seeds of doubt or fear. Today's close call was just that; a disaster divinely avoided, but also a wake up call to pay attention to life itself; a call for which I am thankful tonight.

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