Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On A Serious Note

Every now and then I come across a news story that reminds me that real life incidents can be more violent and cruel than anything we read about in comics or see in film. In comic books in particular death is usually a momentary inconvenience and the protagonist usually gets over it in due course. See the recent Captain America Reborn or Darkest Night series as a perfect example of how fiction can treat violent death as no more inconvenient than a head cold. Hell, even SPOCK died… but he got better.

Tragically it doesn’t work that way in real life. In the real world dead is dead. No do overs, no backsies…do not pass GO. All you are and all you ever can be ends right there. And, unlike in comics, there are no superheroes to swoop in at the last minute. Batman is not there to catch you when the bad guy comes out to prey. WE have to be the superheroes because we are all we have.

The point of this ramble will become clear as I tell you about a young lady who could easily have been someone you know. Someone who might have shared our hobby…I don’t know. She could have been my daughter or your girlfriend…It could even have been YOU. Her name is …was Chelsea King and she was a 17 year old high school student in San Diego, so the story did not get big play here in NY. By all accounts Chelsea was a smart, delightful young woman well on her way to a very bright future. She went missing on February 25th while out for a jog. Chelsea’s body was found Tuesday in a shallow grave by the beach where she was running.

Her body was found six days after King went missing Feb. 25 and two days after police arrested John Albert Gardner III, a convicted sex offender whose DNA they said was found on King's clothing near where police believe she was abducted.

It’s an ugly story that is far too common. Here we have a decent young person who was just starting to live her life robbed of that life and all of her potential. She died violently, in fear and all alone. Her family lost a daughter and the world lost all of the contributions she was ever going to make to our collective value. It was a crime that you can never put a price on. Murder robs all of us every single time it is committed anywhere.

Chelsea’s life was taken by a predator, no more than an animal. What is worse is that this particular predator had priors. Chelsea was, by all accounts, not his first victim. Unfortunately, just like in comic books, the bad guys often find their way back to the streets. Predators are a fact of life. Superman is not. But there are things you can do to protect yourself. It is called Self Defense.

There is a misconception that most people hold with the term Self Defense. Most people seem to think it involves martial arts and various fighting skills. In fact true Self Defense rarely requires any fighting at all. What it does require is AWARENESS of your environment and staying away from potentially dangerous situations. You don’t need to be a martial arts expert or a survivalist to protect yourself. Your brain and common sense will do in most situations!
Believe it or not we have our own version of Spider Sense. We just fail to notice it. Our brains process an enormous amount of ambient data regarding our surroundings. Sights, smells and sounds that we never consciously acknowledged go through the computer in our heads.

Sometimes that ambient data raises a danger signal. That is when we feel the “hair raise” on the back of our necks or “feel” someone nearby. Unfortunately, these days we are normally plugged into an I-Pod or some such other gadget that insulates us from our surroundings and “dulls” our “Spider sense”. A word of advice here…UN PLUG occasionally. It may just save your life. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the safer you are going to be. Listen to your instincts. It is better to feel silly after a false alarm than to be dead because you ignored your instincts.
Avoid isolated areas after dark…especially when you are alone.

Take a minute to look around when you find yourself in an unfamiliar or isolated environment.
If you sense something and your instinct says run…then run. Don’t hesitate because an attacker sure won’t.

Keep 911 on speed dial on your cell and don’t be afraid to use it.

If you are on a train platform after hours, stay in the common area near the token booth and away from the platform edge. Try to ride in the front car.

Finally, don’t be afraid. Believe it or not New York IS a relatively safe city. Being self aware will just make it SAFER.

The best way to beat the bad guys is to live well...

That’s 30


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I keep forgetting that we are spending more , and more time attached to our I-pods , and what not and are completely unaware of our surroundings. We should all try to find time to up plug from our devices , and become more aware of our surroundings it might just save a life some day.