The Enchantment of Denial
“Refusal to believe until proof is given is a rational position; denial of all outside of our own limited experience is absurd.” Annie Besant
So goes the famous quote by Mark Twain, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” I was dismayed this week as I poured over countless articles written about the Las Vegas shootings. I was trying to glean something from which we could all benefit. What is it we can all personally learn as a result of this horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1st?
As I viewed video after video of the shooting, focusing primarily on the reactions of the crowd, I was absolutely amazed at how few and how slow people really responded. I kept asking myself, “Why?” Why are they just standing there? Why aren’t they doing something to escape harm’s way? So many just froze, while others dove to the ground. Others simply stood there in disbelief. One man began to wave a rude gesture in the general direction of where the shooting was coming from. I will resist the temptation to analyze his behavior.
The answers to my “why?” questions may be found in a fascinating psychological condition called, “Denial Syndrome.” In one’s mind there is often a sub-conscious refusal to acknowledge that an event has occurred. The person affected just acts as if nothing has happened. The occurring event is so far outside a person’s personal experience base, that his or her mind simply refuses to believe that what is happening could actually happen. This occurred on 9/11 in New York City. It happened in Boston at the Marathon bombing and it happened again this past week in Las Vegas.
Who in their right mind would shoot into a crowd of people? That is dangerous and maniacal! These are the thought patterns that prohibit many from thinking that such a thing could possibly happen. This thinking caused thousands of people to just freeze in place, unable to process mentally what was happening at the moment. For 58 of them in Las Vegas, denial very likely could have been the reason they lost their lives. We need to grasp the reality of the grave consequences of “denial.”
If the thought patterns of denial are sub-conscious, how then, can someone respond consciously to life or death kinds of threats? If our sub-conscious takes over and causes us to go into a state of denial, what can we do? There is something we can do. It is so simple that you will be surprised. Prepare. Simple situational awareness can save lives. It is easy to teach someone to be situationally aware. It is not difficult to implement this awareness into our everyday lives.
***STRATFOR is the best private Intelligence organization out there. Their publications are clear, concise and accurate. I have been a subscriber for 10 years. They are in my opinion, the most reliable source.
From a violent extremist point of view the attack was quite a success. The attacker was able to reap extraordinary carnage in a short period of time and gain incredible media coverage. That is a terrorist’s dream come true. Why is understanding this important to us today? Given the high death toll in Las Vegas, copycat attacks are bound to follow. One of the factors that drives terrorism, after all, is the success of past attacks. “In many ways, it seems as if successful attacks are able to influence future attacks more than simple propaganda does.” Since the vehicular assault in Nice, France in 2016, vehicular attacks have doubled across Europe, all primarily due to the considerable success of that tragic Bastille Day vehicular murders.
Because of this “copy cat” effect, we can expect that there will be an increased tempo of violent extremist long rifle attacks among crowds from elevated firing positions in the near future. What makes this threat even more ominous is the fact that it is not only organizers of music festivals who need to be concerned; any large crowd will pose a tempting target for this kind of terrorism: parades, sporting events, rallies, protests, celebrations and tourist sites, to name a few. Even daily commutes create large vulnerable hubs of crowds of people.
As Scott Stewart from STRATFOR consistently says in his analyses, local authorities as well as federal agents will need to put more of an emphasis on “how” terrorist events unfold. They will then need to mitigate these events rather than focusing on “who” will execute future events. Focusing on the “who” will lead to a plethora of ways to curb personal liberty and freedom, and as in the case of Stephen Paddock, will many times lead to a conclusion that will not prevent an attack.
So what can be done on a personal level? How can you be prepared to face a world where these kinds of threats are possible? “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Believe it. Live like this is true.
Being prepared doesn’t mean being paranoid or always looking for a terrorist behind every bush. Make mental notes as you go along. For example, know where all the exits are so that you are ready if something happens. It is critical to have the mindset that bad things do happen. They will continue to happen. Accepting the reality of living in a sinful, dangerous world is critical to our survival.
Here are a few survival pointers for you and your family.
- Think ahead of time. Create situational awareness. Wherever you are, consider what you will do if something bad happens. Whether it’s a shooting, a fire or an alarm, plan ahead what your response will be. Most often the people who are able to react first are the ones who survive. If you take a look at the Aurora theater shootings, you will find a good example of this occurring. The ones who responded first, survived.
- The key is to know where you will exit and when you might act. When you first arrive at any location, find out where the exits are located. Think for 15 seconds and decide which one you will use should an emergency occur.
- As a rule, try to position yourself near exits. Though no real numbers have been released as to how many of the injuries from the shooting were the result of trampling, I can imagine that the number is high. Get out of the kill zone immediately and find cover.
- Be prepared to help others. The point is not only self-survival. I hope that all of us have determined that saving another is a worthy use of our lives, even at the cost of our own.
- Carry some personal emergency items with you at all times. I know this sounds drastic, but it is a great practice. Hemorrhaging is currently the prevailing cause of gunshot death — and also one of the most survivable. If you can stop the bleeding within ten minutes the victim will have a huge chance of living. In combat units this period is called, the “platinum 10.”
Carrying a small first aid kit is usually not too heavy a task. I often carry plastic gloves, hansaplast bandages for open wound bandaging to stop bleeding and a tourniquet. Twenty years ago, tourniquets were considered a last-ditch effort and their use was discouraged in all but the most extreme cases. In recent years, however, the common wisdom has changed. I also carry a tactical flashlight as an emergency light and as a personal defense tool. Bandaids, alcohol swabs and some form of pain-killers are also helpful.
If you remain frozen without a plan, your chances of survival as well as those around you are greatly reduced. Do not allow yourself to be enchanted by the powerful prospect of denial.
By way of a resource, my wife discovered this passage from Psalm 64 this week. It is as if the Lord is saying that the Las Vegas attack is not new. It has been done before. Be prepared for it.
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
protect my life from the threat of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
from the plots of evildoers.
3 They sharpen their tongues like swords
and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
they shoot suddenly, without fear.
5 They encourage each other in evil plans,
they talk about hiding their snares;
they say, “Who will see it?”
6 They plot injustice and say,
“We have devised a perfect plan!”
Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.
7 But God will shoot them with his arrows;
they will suddenly be struck down.
8 He will turn their own tongues against them
and bring them to ruin;
all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
9 All people will fear;
they will proclaim the works of God
and ponder what he has done.
10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him;
all the upright in heart will glory in him!
Staying Alive: How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters
Terrorism Preparedness Guide…http://www.yoursafetyplace.com/guide/terrorism
How to Prepare for a Terror Attack…http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/60670/home_security/how_to_prepare_for_a_terror_attack.html
What You Should Do If There’s a Terrorist Attack When You’re Traveling…http://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/news/a6924/what-to-do-in-a-terrorist-attack/