A Lesson From London

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As I was lying in bed last night trying to sleep, my mind kept drifting back to the events in London.  Every time something like this happens it eats at me.  From an outside perspective, it can seem like a “small” event.  The loss of life, and the number of injured is not “large” in comparison to other terrorist attacks.  That is of course, unless you were involved, or it touched your life in a meaningful manner.  In that case, the attack is very real, consuming, and may well be the defining moment of your life.  Regardless of where you stand, be it one inch, or thousands of miles, there is a warning, and a lesson for everyone.

The warning is simple – The world can be a dangerous place.

There are those who will strike at the most inconvenient time, at the most vulnerable location, with the intent of inflicting maximum damage, maximum violence, while hoping for maximum shock value and exposure.  Fortunately, the math is firmly on your side.  The odds of being involved in a terrorist attack are likely smaller than the odds of falling off your roof while hanging Christmas lights, into a bathtub, and then drowning.  Even though they are statistically anomalous, they make and lead the news because of their savage nature, and the fact that they are nearly always perpetrated against innocent civilians.

The attack in London yesterday, and the similar incidents in Europe over the past 12 months are not new.  Anything can be weaponized.  Don’t underestimate the power of conviction and commitment.  We will eventually see this type of attack in America as well.  This threat is only one of many you will face throughout your life.  It is easy to become paranoid, to change your life, to live in fear.  It is also easy for others to pray on this fear, to use it as justification for their actions, to use it as a distraction.  If that happens, they have won.

There is a hedge against fear, and that is the lesson – Preparation is all that matters.

No physical boundary, vetting process or security protocol can prevent the spread of ideas.  If we want to live in a world that values the free and unfettered flow and access to information, we have to tolerate that risk.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think the juice is worth the squeeze.  As I mentioned previously, the odds are in our favor.

To borrow a phrase from my friend Dom Raso, you need to develop “The Will to Fight”.

If you do not want to become a victim, become hard to victimize.  Train yourself.  Make yourself strong, physically, and mentally.  They are interrelated, and feed off of one another in ways that are not always obviously apparent.  In this day and age that statement seems very counter culture, it may not fit well with skinny jeans, but I cannot stress the importance enough.  Take a look around and judge for yourself.  Do you see soft targets?  I do.  I see luxury, excess, and comfort as the baseline standard of our first world society.  I see it creating potential victims who are unwittingly helping their future attackers load the gun.

It all starts between the ears, everything else is an add on.

On the ground in London, with a terrorist behind the wheel of a vehicle, the best you can hope for is survival.  Flesh vs. metal and momentum has a very predictable outcome.  Once the attacker exited the vehicle, the odds of injury and death are still present, but so is the chance to make a difference.  For those with the will to fight and engage, do precisely that.  For everyone else, aid those in need.  Be the difference between life and death for someone.

We, and many other countries, have soldiers fighting a kinetic battle across the globe, doing their best to plug the holes in the dam as they appear.  Sometimes our actions are effective and less water makes it to our side, sometimes the actions create more holes elsewhere.  Bottom line, some water is going to get through, there is nothing we can do to completely stop it.

Educate yourself on how to have a positive impact on a catastrophic situation.  Learn how to defend yourself and protect others, learn how to stop bleeding, learn basic first aid.  Prepare your mind, so that you are ready in the event the world throws its worst at you.  It doesn’t take much, simple skills can save your life, or the life of someone else, but only if you are prepared.

Preparation will positively impact every area of your life, whether you end up using it or not. You can take the power of fear from the hands of those that would use it as a weapon, empowering you, not them.  You will respect threats, but not fear them.  We will never stop terrorism, but we can lessen the impact.

It starts with the will to fight.


15 thoughts on “A Lesson From London

  1. Sitting in London during vigil. I’m an American here on business. Frequently. This hits home on so many levels. Amen that preparation is our best tool. And our brains – eyes and ears. Everyone should know Thanks for thoughtful response.


  2. I was going through my small purse looking for something-its a HASSLE- I carry a RAT turnicut, other med kits and my keys are always under it all. I keep thinking-You’ll never need that!….but I know better. Go Bag, Full Medical kit in vehicle as well as full K9 kit along with horse supplies and add IV bags in that mix. Sometimes I think Im crazy, Ive seen too much, I might have PTSD…other times- I know its the right thing to do and carry. I saved a guy in Jackson Hole on a snowmobile outing a year ago. Had to use the paddles and an injection. BTW…I carry 4 human staplers in the kits. Great on head wounds after packing. I do active avoidance and my will to fight is Good To Go. Thanks Andy. Sleepless in the Desert.


  3. As I prepare for our upcoming trip abroad, all this is going through our minds. Be mindful, be alert, be prepared, and still plan on enjoying our travels. Mahalo for reinforcing these thoughts.


  4. Great essay Andy, one thing I would add… after the preparation, you need to maintain the discipline to remain Situationally Aware. I come from an aviation background, military and airlines, and that phrase has been part of my professional training since the beginning.

    It amazes me to watch so many people fully consumed by their electronic gadgets and totally unaware of their surroundings; walking, sitting and driving. Those few seconds it takes to react to an audible or visual warning may have removed a possible life saving reaction from a limited number of responses.

    “It ain’t brain surgery, but you need to pay attention!”


    • Situational Awareness is Key. But to learn that in the manner in which you react within 1-3 seconds takes training. The training involves knowing what the bad actors can, will and want to do. Part of why people serve- is so that others can be “free” to live. And those that live, eat and breathe SA have many many sleepless nights,


  5. Agree 100%. I have been a certified first aider for years, this is one thing. Another thing is – I have been “window shopping” for martial arts for years but I am training in Krav Maga for some time now. The trigging point was watching all those terrorist attacks on TV and realising that a simple action from one person (even better – a few people) could change the outcome. My Krav Maga trainer writes a “blog”. One of the articles was entitled “Freeze, Flight or Fight”. So many people just freeze, making themselves and the others easy targets. Apparently, the attack in London lasted 82 seconds (!!!!). A decision has to be made pretty quickly.
    I honestly hope I will never be in a situation when I will have to fight but I also honestly hope that I am prepared now in case I will have to do it.
    And a message from Britain: I am not afraid, London is not afraid, we are not afraid. If I can fight, so can the others.


  6. Pingback: Weekend Knowledge Dump- May 19, 2017 | Active Response Training

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