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.
14 thoughts on “Failed Situational Awareness – Missing the Slow Slide of Your Community”
I liked this post but I will say Detroit is no longer in decline it been building back up again the last few years and becoming a healthier city and people are moving back into it it is no longer bankrupt.
Thanks for that info Sasha.
I really enjoyed this article, Todd. In early March (when Covid was ramping up) I moved from the Topeka, Kansas to rural Missouri where I had purchased property to homestead/bug out. This area has a large Mennonite population and it is situated near Lake of the Ozarks. I have learned a lot from your articles and podcasts on situational awareness so I keep my eyes open for change. The biggest change I have seen since I moved here is that many who had vacation homes near the lake are moving here permanently. Recently the lake area newspaper ran an article that stated that property sales here have skyrocketed. My concern is that those moving in will bring with them all the ailments of the big cities they are moving from.
Hopefully they wouldn’t. But that is what I’ve seen in Texas. That’s one big reason that communities don’t always trust the new people.
How many people know their neighbors at all? It’s been said 90% of your troubles AND Assistance will come from a 20 mile circle. Aside from the lite aid from the American Red Cross the folks that will get the lights back on and help you clear the debris are going to be local.
COVID has made knowing your neighbor even harder. We are encouraged to hide from each other to limit the spread. Speaking medically masks and social distancing DO help. Lister and Pasteur’s germ theory still seems to be useful. However the social-economic damage from all the Media Hype has been extreme.
Exceptions to the 20 mile rule is Congress. Unless some sort of landlord payment system occurs a LOT of people will be homeless around Christmas. If Congress extends and pretends the situation is under control that crisis will be kicked forward to a new date to be aware of.
Share some time and kindness with your neighbors. Rake their leaves, shovel some snow. See who expresses thanksgiving or helps you with your snow. Actions beats words, but I pay attention to the words.
Matthew 15:18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander.…
Friends you can trust are a treasure. Ecclesiastes 4: …11Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? 12And though one may be overpowered, two can resist. Moreover, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Knowing some facts from various webpages is good but when trouble comes you will know your true and trustworthy friends.
2nd Timothy 1: 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Trouble will come to Christians but God is *still* on His Throne.
What a good read. I appreciate how you you put your faith out front. The demographic resources are great. I just downloaded the nextdoor app.
Seeing the slide where I grew up in Portland, Oregon is ever so apparent now that haven’t lived there since 2013, and am forced occasionally to visit. Its shocking to see the level of decline. The graffiti, trash, and homeless camps are absolutely taking things over.
Keep up the great work Todd, I appreciate what you do to help us be prepared.
Great post. Situational awareness is something that I have going on in my mind all the time: when I go to the grocery store, church, or just a walk around my apartment complex.
When I go to church (only been 3-4 times since we were locked down in mid-March) I always locate the exits, insist on sitting in a certain area if possible (close to an exit). My church, under normal pre-COVID days, meets at a high school. Since the lock downs in mid-March, we have gone through some different ways to worship: on-line only, meeting outside during the summer at another church, now meeting inside at that church at a different time than they worship. Frankly, I am not comfortable attending church in person so I stick to the on-line live worship for now.
I’ve lived in my city for several years now and must say that there have always been areas that I simply will not go. However, in the last 4-5 years, those areas have expanded greatly. I won’t even drive through downtown anymore. There are areas of homelessness that defies description. I don’t have anything per se against the homeless but I did drive by an area yesterday that was so bad. There are dumpsters there but the homeless don’t even or don’t seem to be picking up their trash and putting the trash in the bins. The decline is so visible and rampant that it breaks my heart.
So, situational awareness is foremost in my mind when I am out and about as well as in my home.
Good stuff Todd. There are a bunch of sites full of stats. I was looking at spotcrime.com and neighborhoodscout.com but there are others.
I can think of two hands-on ways of getting to know the neighborhood but they may not be available to everyone. Plus we have the whole covid thing going on so the timing is probably bad but a police ride-a-long and volunteering for your neighborhood watch might be worth looking into for anyone living in a city.
As you know, I’m in Detriot every day and I agree with Sasha for the downtown and riverfront areas. I’m in the neighborhoods much of the time and it’s still desolate with blight still rampant. Not quite as bad as twenty years ago but there seem to be fewer people too. Again, downtown and along the riverfront is improving drastically. We just need that to expand that in a big way. Local government corruption still makes the news often as well.
The truth is that anywhere we are right now is subject to evil and disruption. That’s exactly when we have our guard down. In Detroit, I’m very observant and take no chances. If something looks wrong, I drive away. In the town I live in, I have to admit, I barely notice my surroundings. Something I need to work on.
Sorry for the long comment and this story but you know I can’t help it. 😉 Just today I parked along the street at a CVS store in Detroit. I noticed a mercury pull parallel to the front door full of men. Then I noticed it had no plates and it was blocking other cars. I guy jumped out of the passenger door and ran inside. I decided I didn’t need anything in there after all and put my truck in gear. Here in town, I may not even have noticed that.
Thanks for sharing the story. It reminds us how important it is for us to always pay attention and stay aware!
Best places.net, put in the town and state to get a lot of information, including unemployment, average income, crime and cost of living. My little neighborhood is maintaining itself, but the city is definitely going downhill.
I am on the Crime Date Explorer website and can’t get more specific data than my state, Texas, and I’d like to check my county stats. Have a missed a button to click?
You should be able to drill down to the county level on the left side.