The Things We See, But Do Not Say

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After every tragedy — from Columbine to Sutherland Springs — colleagues, classmates, family, and friends all come forward in droves with eyewitness accounts of suspicious activities and long harbored concerns.

So why didn’t they say something before?

Hindsight Bias may be part of the reason. Also known as the “knew-it-all-along“ effect, hindsight bias is a psychological phenomenon in which past events seem to be more prominent than they appeared while they were occurring.

The other, more common explanation, is deeply rooted in our social pre-disposition to avoidance — a well-established, self-defense practice deeply grounded in the false narrative of the “it won’t happen to me” mindset.

The certainty of our safety is fading fast. Our protective practices have become too dependent on a reliable response instead of the proactive preventions that stop harm from happening in the first place.

We can no longer afford to live in a world where we simply hope that nothing will happen, and then solely rely on the first responders to save us once something does. We need effective yet practical solutions…today…before this happens again.


Someone May Not See Everything, But Everything Is Seen By Someone

Imagine a jigsaw puzzle who’s pieces have been thrown out the window. Someone is bound to stumble across a tile or two. And while an individual may find the discovery of a random puzzle piece a bit odd, it is easy to see why they might not recognize it’s significance. But what if that puzzle piece was turned-in? What if that stumbled-upon piece was then matched up with discoveries from other people with similar findings? A pattern would appear. Pieces would fit together. A broader understanding of what had happened would begin to be revealed.

A threat assessment program works much the same way. It serves as a “clearing house” of an organization’s concerns. A problem solving process that pieces together clues to identify and then manage an otherwise harmful consequence toward peaceful resolution.

A Joke Is The Truth In Jest

Comedians can make us laugh with their unique perspective. A few even have a simple process for coming up with a joke: If they think about something more than twice, they have to make it funny. It’s their subconscious telling them they found malleable material. This practice that can be easily replicated toward the promotion of safety: If you see something so concerning you think about it more than twice, report it.

The Best Defense Lies Not In The Expensive Cameras And Locks, But In The Awareness Of Everyone Involved

Everyday awareness is the single greatest protective resource available to any organization of any size. The goal should be to replace the burden of fear with the empowerment of proactive participation. Today’s safety is more about promoting social accountability and rewarding awareness than it is about the reactive recourse of Run/Hide/Fight. 

The priority should be to re-frame the conversation toward the promotion of pro-social behavior. Reporting a concern is sometimes the best way to ensure someone gets the help they need BEFORE they hurt themselves or others.

Our willingness to help another is often the first step to protecting ourselves.