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No matter what you have to say about the current situation, the one phrase that I think a lot of us can agree on is that we are living in interesting times. Our computers and phones live stream these interesting times to us 24/7. This post is going to concentrate on tips for the average person that wants to avoid taking part in civil unrest or protests. It seems pretty clear that most people would rather not participate regardless of how the news portrays it.
There are some that say that if someone doesn’t take a stand then that means things are not going to improve. While that may be true I ask you to consider how dedicated you are to a cause before you take action. As we will discuss later in this post, it can be hard to stop violence if you find yourself in an escalating situation.
While you may have strong opinions one way or another, there is a difference between that and being “all in”. Unless you are very dedicated then the consequences and risks are probably not worth going towards potential trouble.
On Not Going Towards The Trouble: Staying Safe During Civil Unrest In America
Curiosity is natural but it can also be dangerous.
Restrictions that were put in place due to COVID-19 are being eased or ignored. Obviously there is some risk of contracting any number of illnesses from being in crowds of people, especially those that are shouting and touching one another a lot.
While it may be tempting to try to go observe peacefully the events that are occurring in your area, you need to consider just how worth it is really to you. Sure there is nothing like seeing something with your own two eyes but the cost of that could be great.
Those of you that have kids and teens that are old enough to be going places on their own or hanging out at friends, or that are being left home alone need to talk seriously about the dangers of going towards potential trouble or ongoing trouble and unrest.
Avoid peer pressure. I am talking about adults and younger people too.
Getting caught up in the energy and group of a crowd is easy to do. I have heard of these types of incidents in my own area. Somebody gets an idea and suddenly 10 people or more are getting themselves into a situation that is not at all what they anticipated. Emotions are high and it is easy for people on both sides of any issue or argument to see too far into something and make some assumptions that can lead to a major escalation in little time at all.
Just because everyone else seems to be doing something doesn’t mean it is a great idea. Even if you really like a group of people, it is important to think for yourself and consider your well being and that of your family.
That being said…..
Watch out for family trying to talk you into things. Carefully consider any ideas, favors, or anything that they may ask of you during these trying times.
Family is important but a lot of people have an up and down type of relationship with more than one member. While it is important to band together and try to help one another at times, one must think carefully about these actions. Who doesn’t have someone in their family that loves drama? I bet most of us can name quite a few. You also need to think about if it is worth it to ask for help from someone or invite them to be a part of your life. Sometimes people expect far more in return than is fair or that you can give even if you want to.
Plenty of families have people in them that are suffering from addiction and substance abuse. Even during good times, it can be challenging to help someone in this position even if they want to be helped. Do you have the resources and determination to deal with the potential trouble of substance abuse and addiction? Has the person made any indication that they are going to meet you halfway? Can they contribute at all to the household?
Families can be very divided when it comes to politics and moral opinions. It can be very hard to overcome these barriers and help each other out. If you couldn’t hang out or talk before all the unrest and the pandemic, I am not going to say that there is a good chance you can now. I wish it were different but as stressed as the average person is, dealing with long standing issues may be too hard or even impossible without causing both parties a lot of grief and trouble.
Avoid talking about potentially volatile subjects. I have found that plenty of people find it refreshing to not “go there”.
A lot of people are simply tired of constantly talking about the state of the world and would love to have a conversation about other things. We all know that some subjects get people really worked up and that it can vary by the person. Don’t bring up subjects you know are going to be upsetting and not do anyone involved any good. This is generally a good habit to be in nowadays because what you say can and will be used against you if you run your mouth in front of the right person. It happens all the time regardless of your personal beliefs and opinions.
It is just the times we live in.
I wish I had a magical way to make it different but I am afraid there are a lot of very deeply rooted issues that are going to have to be dealt with before we get back to having a society where people can talk freely and change their opinion later without it getting thrown in their face a month or a decade later. People change and grow and unfortunately, even when they change for the better, even minor or moderate comments that are offensive can be brought up and used for their ruination socially and at work.
At 37, I am thankful that every dumb or ill informed thing I said as a kid and teen was not recorded in some way.
Do not give out too much information online or in person.
I write for a living. It is my job to talk about preparedness and survival skills and try to give advice that can apply to a whole spectrum of situations and people. Part of that job means giving up some of my privacy. I get paid to write though and I don’t dish out everything even though I get that paycheck for talking about some things.
The people I see on social media or Youtube channels that take pics and tell everyone basically every firearm or prep they have as well as their various opinions on a ton of volatile subjects baffle me, especially since only a tiny percentage are making any kind of money off of these revelations. Stop acting like you want to impress others and get attention. This is far different than trying to impress the popular kids. You could be putting yourself and your family in grave danger.
One thing I have noticed about a lot of the events that have happened is how many people are trying to film or get that shot or video that will go viral. Instagram “Influencers” are going out to events that hold a lot of potential for violence just to get a little boost in their popularity. Since so many have gotten called out for this behavior, they are at even more risk for ridicule and targeting even by those that they have the same opinions of.
I have to say that trying to get videos when people are pushing and shoving you seems like a terrible idea. Once it comes to that, having a phone in your hand rather than getting out of harm’s way or defending yourself, seems like a big risk to get that shot that chances are you are not going to get much for in terms of fame or monetary value, especially with so many others shooting the same scene.
You know how many times I have turned down prepper reality shows, interviews, offers to host prepper shows on TV, etc? More times than I can count on my fingers. Some of these same places keep hassling me even after I turn them down. I sometimes even forget to tell my husband when I get another one. They don’t seem to get it that I don’t want the trouble because there is no doubt in my mind that with that type of fame often comes hassle and trouble that is not worth the amount of money one might get in return. Very few people become high paying stars in their field.
Remember that no matter who you are or your opinions, it is easy to justify terrible acts if one feels they are morally superior or if someone convinces themselves that an act is for the greater good.
Moral justification is a powerful thing and incredibly dangerous. When you get right down to it, basically anything from treating someone poorly to outright atrocity and brutal violence can feel justified by someone if they feel it benefits the majority or that they are morally superior in some way. Remember that no matter who you are and where you live, there is someone out there that feels “above you” or better in some way. Most of the time it doesn’t really matter and everyone can just ignore each other for the most part but when emotions are high and things are in turmoil, this is a fact that you need to be very aware of.
Violence is easy to start and hard or even impossible to stop until it simply cannot go on any longer.
Going into an area purposefully where there is civil unrest increases your chances of experiencing violence. It only takes a small catalyst for an otherwise peaceful protest to turn into something awful that results in a lot of people injured or worse. Remember when a car backfiring caused a stampede of people in Times Square? A single fistfight at an event is sometimes all it takes to turn the tide and cause a snowball of violence.
You may not be able to talk someone out of committing violence.
I have been watching some videos online. Who hasn’t? One thing I have noticed is that there are plenty of people that have made efforts to talk others out of escalating situations and committing violence. Sometimes they are successful and sometimes they are not. These same people are actually putting themselves between others to try to prevent violence as well.
When it comes to friends and family, you may not be able to talk them out of going towards trouble and committing violent acts. They may not be planning violence outright but deep down they might be thinking about what they are going to do if things go a certain way. Emotions are high and a lot of people consider what is going on not just unrest but a revolution.
No matter where you stand on any major issue there are people that will try to trigger you and use your reaction against you.
One must be very careful about triggering. Plenty of people have been publicly shamed and humiliated after being manipulated into some type of reaction. Agitators can be extremely persistent. I also think it is worth mentioning that video is easy to edit. The right snippet can portray a very different scenario than what actually happened. Cutting and splicing audio is well within the skill set of most people if they want to do it.
Will an outburst do any good? You need to ask yourself this and think before you react. I have seen way too many videos here lately showing people taunting and trying to get someone to hit them on film. This is not good behavior no matter how strongly you feel. I completely support someone defending themselves from harm but trying to get someone to hit you merely because you disagree on something doesn’t solve anything at all.
Do not openly brandish firearms in public places unless your life is truly in danger and you must defend it.
There is a difference between a gun strapped to your belt and having one in hand that you wave about in an unsafe manner. Pointing a gun at someone will get you arrested. Even if there are open carry laws in your state, you can’t go waving them around at protests. Even if technically the protest is not sanctioned and the legalities get hazy, chances are you are going to bring a lot of trouble on yourself. Also just because you have a firearm doesn’t mean that a crowd can’t harm you.
I love having guns but one has to be careful about the amount of confidence they give some people to act in a more brash way. A gun is a defense tool and a darn good one but don’t make the mistake that it makes you untouchable in a crowd.
I think the advice I have been given since a child is good. Don’t point a gun at someone unless you are really serious about using it. Otherwise, keep it down and your finger not right on the trigger.
Other Tips and Bits of Advice
- Plan your shopping and work commutes around areas of potential unrest.
- Have a get home bag in your vehicle.
- Consider what you can use for a weapon. A lot of everyday objects can be utilized if necessary. For some options check out my article on improvised weapons.
- You should carry a weapon or something for self-defense on you at all times. There are many options including pepper spray, tasers, and keychain weapons. A knife is an excellent choice, especially if you cannot carry a gun.
- Keep a decent medical kit in your car or get home bag.
- Try to keep the kids and the elderly at home. Sorry, but times like these may mean that you have to move fast. Also keep in mind that if you are worried about kids and elderly family members during civil unrest, it can lead to different decisions that don’t turn out good for anyone. Would you leave someone old behind to get trampled to save yourself? Of course not.
- Avoid being out in the evening or at night. Consider what you can do to make it easier and not so boring for teens that are having to stay at home more. For more in-depth advice on moving around during times of unrest, check out my previous article.
- Talk honestly with your family about safety measures and avoiding trouble. Explain the risks and consequences.
- Be prepared to answer some tough questions and offer a lot of advice to kids and teens. This is a very trying time to grow up in and a lot of them don’t know how to deal with all the emotions and propaganda that is being thrown at them.