“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Charles R. Swindoll
“We evaluate people all the time, quite attentively, but they only get our conscious attention when there is a reason. We see it all, but we edit out most of it. Thus, when something does call out to us, we ought to pay attention. For many people, that is a muscle they don’t exercise.” Gavin de Becker
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” –Marcel Proust
(Day 93 of the federal guidelines for social distancing)
As the world seems to be convulsing under the weight of so much chaos, pain, and suffering, it becomes easier to simply accept situations as they are, and to begin to integrate them into our lives as our “new normal.” Doing that leads to the beginning of lowering our guard; and we can become complacent. The very implementations that we need to consider to protect our businesses, communities, and families can become exactly what others will use to cause us great harm. This is a time to pay close attention to global/local security affairs, not less. It is a season for considerate, reasonable prevention planning. It is time to carry out the precautions we should take while we are still left of “the bang.”
When you are left of the bang you are able to identify some of the pre-threat indicators that exist before a violent act is committed, and you will have done so with enough time to be proactive, in order to take the appropriate measures to mitigate the deadly effects of the attack. In this week’s edition of “More than Meets the Eye,” we will look at some of the lessons originally written about in the September 17th edition entitled, Left of Bang. This subject is immensely important to us today as we recognize that violent extremist acts are not only a part of the past, but are very much part of the present as well, and will be a significant part of our future. Just because the mainstream media is not writing about it, does not mean it is not happening.
“Left of bang” is an interesting expression. It comes from the U.S. Marine Corps and means, “…before the bad stuff happens. That’s where you want to be—alert, ready, prepared to respond to protect yourself and your loved ones.” It is being in a ready position to face what comes next, whether it is a terrorist attack, a criminal act, a natural disaster, or a car accident. Being “left of the bang” readies us for “the bad stuff.”
There are often no indicators before bad things happen. Sometimes, they just seem to come out of nowhere.
Fortunately, this is not inherently true for extremist violence. Research shows that most violent extremists, Islamic jihadists, and terrorists show some tell-tale signs before they operationalize a violent attack. They tell someone, often using details, that they are in the process of committing some form of a violent attack. How should we respond to that information? How can we remain in a “left of the bang” posture? Taking precautions before a crisis happens, not merely waiting until one occurs is critical.
Just so we are clear that what I am talking about is really a thing, let’s look at the data of terrorist activity for this month alone, June 2020. According to the Global Terrorism Database, in June 2020 already there have been 14 separate terrorist attacks. That averages to about one a day at this writing. In those attacks this month, 223 people have been killed, 169 have been seriously injured. All of this has happened over the past 2 weeks. These attacks occurred in eight different countries. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves reasoning around the fact that none of these attacks happened to us so they must not be significant or represent an existential threat. That is naive thinking at best.
I fear that there are times that we allow ourselves to become detached from the pain in the world to the point where we begin to believe that if it doesn’t happen to me then it doesn’t really matter. Pretending that there is no significant suffering in the world is an impoverished way to live out your days on this planet earth.
Why does it matter that 223 souls have perished at the hands of terrorists this month? Injuries to 169 people are not to be belittled, however, these attacks did little damage to the greater global population. A noted Terror Analyst, Brian Jenkins described terrorism in three simple words, “Terrorism is Theater.” “Terrorism is aimed at the people watching, not the actual victims. Terrorist’s primary aim is to create an atmosphere of fear and alarm….of terror.” This is the real effect of terrorism. The aim is to cause individuals to think that when I leave my house today, there is a possibility that I will be killed by a terrorist. This naturally leads to more questions. Why isn’t my government doing more to protect me? Why are they so incompetent? Why are we spending so much money on security and the bad guys are still winning? Terrorism creates the fear that terrorists are hoping to instill. This could cause you to ask, “Aren’t we doing the victims a favor by not recognizing the terrorist attacks around the world?” Succumbing to the fear in which they trade would be the wrong response, but recognizing the reality of the tactics of terrorists only castrates their ability to fully impose their will on the general populace. It could, if we let it, cause us to no longer attend local football games without wondering if terrorists are there. When we go to church, concerts, parks, train stations or airports we may wonder if there will be a terrorist threat. We will begin to look at people with unfounded suspicion. This is the real impact of terrorist attacks. These are all situations that could be mitigated “left of the bang.”
Consider how much money has been spent by the United States since the 9/11 attacks. According to a recent study the United States has blown through $6 trillion in ‘war on terror’ spending since 2001 — and its cost to taxpayers will keep climbing for decades, study says. The Department of Defense estimated that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria have cost each US taxpayer around $7,623 to date. One main aim of Islamic jihadist terrorists is to break Western nations for their own ideological/political purposes. They continue to push, threaten, create fear, and in turn cause Western nations to build bigger walls, use more sophisticated technology, and enact tighter controls over our societies. The exigencies that we surrender because of our willful ignorance will not soon be returned to us.
I would like to suggest that we realize, not accept, that this is the next generation’s, “Viet Nam.” No one wants to be in this war, but it will be fought. However, it will not be fought thousands of miles away in a faraway land. It will be fought in our streets, airports, subway stations, schools, parks, and our other public spaces. It will not be the body count that will determine who wins or loses for terrorists; it will be how it impacts the collective mind of our communities.
Will we hide in fear? Will we succumb to the threats of terrorists? Will we take up arms and fight, arming ourselves to the teeth, ready to kill or be killed? So, before we decide to run to our cabins in the mountains and retreat or go all “Jack Bauer” or “Rambo” on the perceived terrorists in our midst, let’s stop and think about what our Creator would have us do.
- Learn what it means to think, “left of the bang.” Learn how you can be prepared, alert, and aware of potential threats in your community. Help your neighbors and family know how they can be the front lines of prevention for these kinds of attacks.
- Resist the temptation to profile people because of their ethnicity, religion, or nationality. Bigotry looks as good on you as it does on anybody else…bad! Love your neighbor as yourself. So unless you suspect yourself of being a terrorist, don’t profile your neighbor. As fellow citizens, we need to be engaging our communities with love, not hatred, nor with fleshly prejudices and biases. Invite a Muslim into your home. Welcome anybody that is quite different from you into your home. Have dinner with them. Share with them the hope that is within you. Love them. Serve them.
- If you see something that is out of place, report it! This is not inconsistent with the first three actions. It is wisdom. In so many studies I have read, people have sensed something wrong, lacked personal confidence to tell anyone and then something bad happened. Trust your gut within you. Don’t let your lack of confidence in your spirit allow bad things to happen to those around you. “Be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove…”
India and China have their first deadly clashes in 45 years…
The Libyan Civil War Is About to Get Worse… https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/18/libyan-civil-war-about-get-worse/
For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at: [email protected]
This is a great article about how terrorism affects people. https://medium.com/@giovanniprati92/terrorism-what…
This is an interesting article on the fear that terrorism creates… https://www.csis.org/analysis/terrorism-thing-we-h…
Tracking potential terrorism suspects… https://www.investigativeproject.org/6685/european…