Being aware of your environment is necessary if you are trying to keep yourself and your family safe. Maintaining good situational awareness is an on-going effort because your environment can change quickly or very slowly over time. It can change quickly when someone pulls a gun on another person and you happen to be in the middle of it or it can be so slow that the change doesn’t register, like when your neighborhood or community changes as you just do life. Either way, the wise and prudent person will keep in mind good situational awareness habits for safety.
Many of you know that I’ve been writing about the Prophet Elisha based on my Weekly Video Devotionals that I post online. Continuing with Elisha, there are a few verse in 2 Kings 2 that point out how awful it can be for parents and children when they don’t maintain good situational awareness of the spiritual environment around them.
In 2 Kings 2:23-24, Elisha is walking back to Bethel from Jericho. Along the way, a bunch of children started mocking him and making fun of him. After a while, he turned around and cursed the children that were being disrespectful and rude.
Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number.2 Kings 2:23-24 NASB
Those that look at these two verses and think that two female bears killing 42 kids was to much for a little name calling, don’t understand what is happening in this situation.
When Society Devolves Morally Around You
Many who read the above verses don’t realize the background. Bethel and Jericho were in Northern Israel. At this point in Israel’s history, the country had divided in two; a consequence of King Solomon allowing his many wives and concubines to sway him away from the Lord. The first King of Israel thought that it wouldn’t be wise to allow his subjects to go down to Judah to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem. So he setup idols for the people to worship, in Bethel and in Dan (see 1 Kings 12:25-33).
As a result of Israel’s idolatry, the people didn’t respect and honor the things of God, including the called Prophet of God, Elisha. The “lads” that were mocking Elisha were really mocking the authority of God. This was a direct reflection of the spiritual bankrupt and immoral people of Israel. The bears and the kids that died were punishment for turning from God. Watch the video devo at the end of this article.
Slow Slide of the Community
Just like the slow slide of Israel in Elisha’s time, neighborhoods, cities and states can experience the slow slide of change and decay. If preppers don’t maintain good situational awareness, they might not realize the changes all around them.
For example, Detroit is a city that you hear about often in the news. Wikipedia shares the major concerns about Detroit…
The city of Detroit, in the U.S. state of Michigan, has gone through a major economic and demographic decline in recent decades. The population of the city has fallen from a high of 1,850,000 in 1950 to 680,000 in 2015, kicking it off the top 20 of US cities by population for the first time since 1850. However, the city’s combined statistical area has a population of 5,318,744 people, which currently ranks 12th in the United States. Local crime rates are among the highest in the United States (despite this, the overall crime rate in the city has seen a decline during the 21st century), and vast areas of the city are in a state of severe urban decay. In 2013, Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history, which it successfully exited on December 10, 2014. Poverty, crime, shootings, drugs and urban blight in Detroit are ongoing problems.Decline of Detroit
Not to pick on Detroit, but this is just one example that is easy to identify. There are many more that are not easily identifiable or some that residents won’t believe because it has happened so slow, they have just accepted it as part of life.
So how can someone stay-up-to-date on what is happening in their area so they can make good decisions and keep a good situational awareness mindset?
Get an Outside Perspective
One thing that someone can do is to ask an outsider what they think of their neighborhood and surroundings. The conversation would go something like this. “Hey Susan. I really need your help in looking at my neighborhood and community from a pair of outside eyes. I would like to drive you around a little bit, like to the normal places and routes I take, and would like to know what you think. Would you feel safe? What do you notice? Don’t worry, you won’t hurt my feelings in what you say. I really need a good outside perspective.”
You would need a friend who would truly be honest with you, but it would give you an outside perspective. Sometimes we are just too close to our community.
Check the Stats to be Aware
Many agencies provide information to the Federal government. This information is available online and can include anything from crime statistics to median income levels. One website that is free to the public is the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer. On this website, you can drill down to your county and get specific information about violent and property crimes.
Another website that would be helpful is USA.com. On this website, you can input your zip code and then get a ton of information on the most recent demographics, income, housing, education and more.
For example, here is the top level information for Bexar County in Texas.
Bexar county is located close to the center of Texas. Bexar county has 1,239.82 square miles of land area and 16.27 square miles of water area. As of 2010-2014, the total Bexar county population is 1,789,088, which has grown 28.44% since 2000. The population growth rate is higher than the state average rate of 25.13% and is much higher than the national average rate of 11.61%. Bexar county median household income is $50,867 in 2010-2014 and has grown by 32.71% since 2000. The income growth rate is about the same as the state average rate of 31.68% and is higher than the national average rate of 27.36%. Bexar county median house value is $126,100 in 2010-2014 and has grown by 70.18% since 2000.USA – Bexar County
Using both sets of information, crime and changes in demographics and income, can help you see changes, both positive and negative about your area.
Use Neighborhood Resources & APPs
With all the ills of social media lately, many might not consider this idea, but I advocate joining neighborhood groups online. Many neighborhoods have Facebook Groups where the information about everything from crime to school events are shared. If you’ve left Facebook for another social media like Parler, you can still use the Nextdoor APP. Also, if you have a Ring Doorbell and the Ring APP, those around you will share out information, usually specific to crime.
Just be warned, you will have to deal with “Karens” and the occasional “running a stop sign” rant, but I have received some good information and insight using online APPs.
Next Level Situational Awareness
Just like the people in Northern Israel in Elisha’s time, you can easily get lulled into thinking your neighborhood and community haven’t devolved into an unsafe place. Taking some time to get a different perspective, get some information and insight, can help you realize if you need to take your situational awareness to the next level when you go out or even if you feel you need to move to another part of town.