Saturday, December 07, 2013

Something different this December 7

Normally, on December 7 I will post something about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I still am, but in a different sort of way.  While most commemoration of this day is about the loss of life, I want to take a brief look at a lesson we can draw from the event.

Quite frankly, the US was caught napping, and we shouldn't have been.  Based on my reading, it seems that our political leaders knew, or at least should have known, that their actions were pushing us toward a showdown with Japan.  Yes, there was a military buildup going on, and while some of it was directed toward the Pacific, most eyes were on Europe and the Nazis.  When the Japanese showed up bright and early on that Sunday morning, we were caught with cold boilers, planes in nice neat tight lines and most of our guys making a lazy morning of it.  We paid for that with over 2,000 dead.

Some would say that it's easy to identify this with the benefit of hindsight, and it is--or at least, it's easier.  But if you put in the effort to stay informed, it's also possible to see these things coming.  I liken it to the situational awareness that is discussed in self defense classes, but with a broader reach.  Just as an individual who is situationally aware would not walk through a parking lot without scanning the area, an individual who is situationally aware in the broader sense will not live their life without scanning the area they live in, the region they live in, their country and the world at large.

Yes, this can be a tall order, but with modern technology, it is manageable and need not take an inordinate amount of your time.  You pay the most attention to those things that are closest to you, either in terms of distance or effect.  The further away they are, the less attention you pay.  Using apps like Flipboard or Feedly and a smart phone or tablet, you can customize your news from a multitude of sources, prioritize the stories and keep up with it all on your schedule.

By keeping up with the wider world and carefully considering what you read or hear, you need not be caught unaware when something like an ammo shortage occurs.  When there is a particularly bad harvest season for a food that you like, say peanuts, you can go ahead and stock up on the peanuts and peanut butter ahead of time and save yourself some coin.  And you may just find yourself aware of the next big economic bubble about to pop before it does, and able to preserve your assets.  Or perhaps you simply figure out that it's time to take an extended vacation at your cabin in the woods a few hours before most folks.

You don't want to live your life in Condition Orange, and you can't.  Try to do so and you will wind up in the hands of those nice fellows with the funny jackets and strong medications.  But neither should you live it in Condition White.  Be aware, not only in the parking lot, but of the wider world around you.  You'll be amazed what you'll see.

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