I had a horrific realization that safety was an illusion when I was a young kid in the US Navy.
Back in 2000 I was going to school at Great Lakes Naval base outside Chicago, IL, when I found out something horrific happened to one of my fellow female classmates on base, something that had not occurred to me was a possibility up to that point. In the Navy, women are a teeny minority. In our whole school with hundreds of guys we had maybe 4 females, and the population was even smaller when one looked at the entire base we were on.
I felt pretty safe up to that point. I got hit on by guys but everyone was pretty respectful about it and I figured a little bit of attention was normal. But I was about to experience a total shock, and it was a jolt of horrific revelation. This one morning we were standing at morning quarters, which is where everyone lines up for inspection, and then listens to what the plan of the day is. The pretty young woman next to me was standing there, visibly upset, holding back sobs, tears running down her red face, obviously in distress, holding back some awful pain. It was killing me to feel her pain as tangibly as I did. It was eating me up knowing something grave and terrible had occurred; I had to find out what the deal was, and I had a bad feeling although I hoped I was wrong. After quarters was over I asked the instructor what had happened, why she was crying, and he whispered that he was not suppose to tell me that she had been dragged into a car where she was attacked and assaulted by a group of douchebags. I was like “WTF? You mean fellow sailors attacked her???” Yep. I was not pleased to find out I was indeed right on the mark, suspecting that was why she had been upset.
I then realized the gated community of the base keeping us safe from acts of terrorism or people on the outside didn’t keep us safe from each other. It’s crazy to have to see at 21 that what I thought was safe was actually a zoo and we were running around loose with the tigers.
And it got worse when I got to the fleet shortly after.
But there it is: people can FEEL safe but that doesn’t mean they are. Safety is an illusion and the quicker people realize that the more vigilant they can be in staving off real trouble many don’t see coming. Even when loading groceries into a parking lot in a town you grew up in something awful can happen. We get lulled into this complacency that because nothing has ever happened, nothing ever will and everything is secure.
And then we let our guard down and the inevitable does terribly occur, bursting the bubble we were in, forever changing us and coloring every future occasion.
In reality we really should be on our toes, not paranoid, but watchful and observant of our surroundings. Hey there are bad people in the world. not everyone is, but that small group who truly is evil preys on anyone and everyone and if we can simply see those folks coming we can help keep ourselves as well as those around us safer.