Although we don’t say it out loud, because we all know it definitely can happen, most of us go through life at least acting as though “it can’t happen to me.” We seem content to live our happy little lives, going to work, playing with family, running errands and so on, without giving thought to what we would do if it did in fact happen to us.
For many of us, we depend on others to protect us from anything bad happening to us. This isn’t a bad idea, as long as it is not the ONLY thing we depend on to protect us. We lull ourselves into a false sense of security because there are cameras present, or an alarm system. We depend on emergency services, like our local fire departments, and we feel safer for doing so. So what happens when all of those safeguards that we depend on fail?
In the article linked, the problem was not with the alarm. It was with the family that mistakenly thought that the alarm would protect them when something bad happened to them. Instead of depending on themselves, and then adding the alarm system as a deterrent, the counted on the alarm system as a means of prevention.
I will admit that even I am a little complacent at times, and in the back of my mind it sits there; “it can’t happen to me.” In the news right now there is fear of an Ebola outbreak from an individual who brought the disease back with him from a trip to Western Africa. Sadly, the man has passed away from this brutal virus, and while some of the population are freaking out, there are others who are just passing it off as no big deal. “It can’t happen to me.” I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to adjust their tinfoil hats, but a little extra vigilance couldn’t hurt.
Unfortunately, there are far too many people who lie to themselves and think “It can’t happen to me, not here, not now.” So much so that when something does happen they either panic or just stare in disbelief. We tell ourselves excuses like “this is a safe neighborhood” or “this is not a bad part of town” and so on. Many of us simply hand responsibility for our safety over to complete strangers. Most of us call them the police. We absolve ourselves of responsibility for our own safety, putting faith in things that have no bearing on it whatsoever, quietly mutter to our subconscious “it can’t happen to me,” and go on with our lives.
Granted the chances of anything bad happening to us are low, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t, or won’t happen. It happens to people just like you and me, every day. People’s homes are invaded. People are mugged. Stores are robbed. Car accidents happen. Houses burn. Bad things happen to good people.
So what do we do? We plan. We prepare. We get proactive about minimizing risks. We don’t want our house to burn to the ground so we don’t leave lit candles in the house while we go to the movies. We don’t want to be in a car accident so we drive carefully. We lock our doors. We get alarm systems. We get fire extinguishers. We get a gun and learn how, and when, to use it.
Allow me to present a worst case scenario. Across town there is a 4 alarm fire, and the fire department has dispatched everyone they can to go fight that fire. While that fire across town is blazing away, your home has caught fire. With the fire department already tied up, who’s coming to fight the fire at your house? Those are poor circumstances for your house, and it is probably going to be a while before anyone comes to put that fire out. What if we modify that slightly, and instead of a fire, we use bad guys. It’s still across town, but there is a group of criminals who are shooting up a public venue. While you are watching this drama unfold on your television, your house is broken into by a criminal trying to take advantage of the fact that the police are occupied on the other side of town. What would you do?
Of course, the scenario I presented is highly unlikely. That does not however mean that it is impossible. As a society, we need to get away from the “it can’t happen to me” attitude, and focus more on “what do I do when it happens to me?” Because it, whatever it is, definitely can happen.