Ants, Grasshoppers and Other Things That Bug You, by CEH II

“Be prepared,” as the motto goes, means to learn from the past while living in the present, and at the same time preparing for the future. It should also be understood in the active present tense of the word “be”– being. Being prepared means to be in a continual state of being and getting prepared. What for? For what comes next– usually the unknown, at the wrong time, and at a high cost. Do something now to prepare for the future so you’ll be ready to reap the harvest of future opportunities. Remember, someone once said, “Planning is simply about not being surprised.”

  1. The Prepared Mind

    The prepared mind is one that wants and strives to be ready. Mark Twain said, “I’ve had plenty of life experiences that turned into ‘life lessons,'” and “Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience the result of bad judgment.” But turning your experiences into lessons or good judgment means you have to get up off the couch and do something.

    A wise man acts. He prepares through education, training, observation, listening, experimentation, saving, preparing, networking, and through being friendly, trustworthy, and a man of high integrity and honor. Wisdom always has experience as a prerequisite. Any fool can stick out his thumb and hope for the best.

    The other side of the coin is revealed in the “Apollo 13” situation. In space, they “made do” with what they had available. You can use duct tape to fit a square “filter” into a round hole. Rent the DVD of the same name on Netflix, and you will understand the intensity and fire in the phrase, “Failure is not an option.” Those who have the will to survive will survive. They don’t quit.

    Physics says that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and one at rest, at rest. You know how hard it is to get into motion, and you don’t want to repeat the start-up process. It’s too much work! So quitting can never be an option.

  2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

    Situational awareness refers to your alertness to things around you in your immediate environment. Above, below, ahead, behind, left, and right. It’s a snapshot assessment of whether you are safe or at risk. It occurs and transforms moment by moment, always changing, as the quality of a cup of water drawn out of a flowing river or snow in a storm. It should become as involuntary as a heart beat or blinking.

    There have been many books and articles written on this subject. You should read as many as you need to get you started, or to upgrade your skill-set in this area. A quick look will show how complex this process can become, and how easily you can make mistakes. Some of these will become second nature and be done instinctively in nanoseconds.

    When you are evaluating your safety in a situation, you should simultaneously think about:

    • Visually scanning your physical situation,
    • Who and/or what is around you,
    • The safety of your physical location,
    • The level of unpredictability (if and how fast things can change) in that location,
    • Your purpose and needs, and
    • What around you can be used for concealment, cover, weapons, medical aids, signals, fire, shelter, water, food, and other necessities.

    These can be incredibly complicated concepts, and each one has its own lengthy number of variables. Let’s check some of the questions you may have about “who’s around you.”

    • Are they strangers or are they known to you?
    • What are your perceived impressions of their intentions or motivations; are they selling cookies or looking for severe violence?
    • How many are there; how many have weapons?
    • Will there likely to be more or less of them in the near future?
    • What is their potential to interact with you?
    • (Perhaps most importantly) Do you know them to be dangerous?
    • Do they “look” dangerous?
    • How do you look to them?
    • Could you rely on any of them for help?
    • How could you eliminate them, if necessary?

    You may notice the future is contemplated in a few of the above questions. It could be said the “goal” of situational awareness is to be aware of and anticipate threats in order to either avoid them, offensively act, or defensively react to them in a pre-determined, efficient manner. Panic is the action/reaction of the unprepared, untrained or unthinking mind.

  3. Get Ready Principles

    In getting ready for whatever might come your way, you should apply a few principles in addition to accumulating “stuff” and training. Remember that stuff and training are used to uphold and apply these principles.

    1. 80-20 Principle. The Pareto principle, commonly referred to as the 80-20 rule/principle/law is the law of the central few. It states that roughly 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the effort or cause.

      When I was an officer in the U.S. Air Force back in the 1980s, we always had to “do more with less.” Meaning we did it with no increased funds, increased manpower, new or upgraded equipment, and usually doing it for free. We also had to make it look like we could do it effortlessly and without complaining. When (not if) you did this, you were rewarded with praise (maybe a medal) and more work to do with even less.

      When involved in a campus ministry in college, our campus director used a saying to keep whining at bay: “You cannot make it tough enough for me to complain!” Being competitive students, we responded pretty well to that saying. No one wanted to be the first to complain because complaining is highly contagious. You wanted to be part of the best 20 percent. In fact, to keep your focus sharp, try to be in the best 20 percent of the top 20 percent.

    2. One-third, 1/3, 33.3% (or one third, one third, one third). When you study the revolutions of world history, you can see that the population will usually break into roughly three groups:
      • Those actively committed and involved,
      • Those actively opposed, and
      • Those who don’t want to get involved, and don’t care.

      You will see these in any group today when there is a disagreement or the beginning of conflict at any level.

    3. You can’t change. This is one of my favorites. I discovered this one day when I was feeling very frustrated with people– the population in general, kids, coworkers, school friends, church friends, and committees. You get the idea. I was driving along when an epiphany hit me. I wanted grasshoppers to become ants or, at least, more ant-like. Why can’t we take grasshoppers and “repurpose” them into ants? Why can’t you put them into schools, clubs, training programs, or the military to turn them into ants? And then it hit me like a bright light. Are you ready for this? Grasshoppers cannot become ants (who work harder), and ants will not turn into grasshoppers (who relax). You cannot change species! If you are an ant, you will always be an ant, and if you are a grasshopper, you will always be a grasshopper. You can teach and learn opposite skills sets and techniques, but you cannot change your species or anyone else’s species.

      Insightful? Yes.

      Frustrating? Yes.

      Easy to accept? Not really.

      When you are prepping, get to know the people you live and work with. It will help you accept them, and yourself, when trying to get work done — or even relaxing.

    4. Responsibility and Response Ability. Your first priority and/or obligation in any situation is either to yourself or to others. It can be one (yourself or others), then the other, or both (synergistically and dynamically).
      1. Responsibility. You must get to the point in your life where you take total responsibility for yourself– physically, mentally, economically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and so forth. You don’t blame others when you fail or expect others to bail you out. If you are guilty, man up and take respinsibility for your own actions, results, and consequences. When asked who is responsible for this mess, and it’s totally your mess, stand up as a man and say without disclaimers, “I am.” Take care of yourself and lighten the load on those who are helping you now and give them a break. They need it. When you do a fantastic job on something later, deflect the praise, to keep yourself humble, and share the credit. Pride and arrogance get you in trouble. (You might end up being a politician.) If you become responsible for yourself and others, you need to have response ability.
      2. Response Ability. Do you have the ability, skills, resources, experience, and will to respond to a situation or set of circumstances outside of your control? Before you see the existence of a problem, become “response able” by aquiring the skills, experience, and resources necessary to initiate a solution, even if it means you have to do the work, all of the work, without praise, reward, or recognition. When (not if) someone needs help (whether they caused it or not), you help because you are the solution maker. You become a 911 “first responder” when the 911 calls you. Help clean up the mess yourself. You’re an adult, a grown-up. Few actually make it.

      Our society is actively involved in creating masses of dysfunctional grasshoppers– those who are dependent, unskilled, apathetic, entertainment (technology) dependent, entitled, and part of the sheep flock or in a herd of followers who will never become responsible for themselves or for others. They will NEVER become leaders.

    5. The Principle of 14. I discovered this one when I was observing my kids having an “intense discussion” as to whose will would be followed. “My way or the highway” was the mindset in question. I’m sure you have possibly “heard” of such a thing happening.

      I went into an adjacent room and prayed for wisdom; then it hit me. I went back in the room, sat the two combatants down, and asked the first, “What is 2+3+4+5?” After a short pause they stated “14.” “Correct,” I said. Then to the other, “What is 5+2+3+4?” After a shorter pause (and rolling eyes), “14.” Then back to the first, “What is 3+4+5+2?” “I get it, Dad, 14.” “You guys are trying to be ‘right,’ in charge, and inflict your will upon each other, and are not trying to solve the problem.”

      When you have the same time, resources, funds, manpower, etc., you can get the same result.

      The Principle of 14” states that with the same resources, yielding the same results, you need to admit that, sometimes, there is more than one way (yours) to accomplish the same goal, and it doesn’t always have to be your way.

    6. Negative Panic. It is a reality that when we are in a set of circumstances where we are facing a choice that may result in life or death, human beings have an involuntary tendency toward denial or disbelief and to slow down or stop rather than speed up. It’s not like when the chicken runs around with its head cut off. It’s more like going into extreme slow motion. We need to decide what action to take: Fight, Flee, or Freeze. We believe we will think logically and rationally, with great speed, and make very wise and courageous choices.

      This is not the time to make a choice; it’s time to implement pre-determined decisive action. However, studies have shown that our brains do not function that way in a crisis/emergency situation.

      You’ve heard it said by survivors of an event that “everything went into slow motion”. We tend to move very slowly, not able to think clearly if at all, and try to search our mind’s database for a similar incident to use as a precedent setting reference to make sense of what’s occurring. However, in these situations we don’t have a point of reference for comparison, so we freeze. It’s the reason why first responders (paramedics, police officers, fire fighters, airline staff, and our military) spend so much time training. It’s so that their responses become actions and second nature in a crisis. It’s so they don’t have to think; they default to their training and act accordingly.

      It’s one of the most important reasons we need to make plans and execute repetitive drills now to prepare for a disaster! You won’t be able to think straight during or after the disaster has occurred. Train now so you don’t have to think.

    7. The Great Depression theme modified. During the Great Depression a theme was practiced by millions. It went:
      • Use It Up,
      • Wear It Out,
      • Make Do, or
      • Do Without

      I won’t go into all of the various applications of this subject, but I’ve noticed in our current culture a variation of it that scares me to death. So I created the following to reflect our culture’s thinking:

      • Use it up
      • Wear it out
      • Give me more for free
      • Make Do
      • Do Without

      These younger generations will be, and have, very little help during hard times. Very few possess useful skill sets, mindset, willingness to work, work ethic, traditional values, spiritual insights, and wisdom.

      We now have technology addicts of any combination of computers, tablets, laptops, phones, MP3 players, and on and on. I’ve included a few snippets from the article, “Expert Reveals the 21st Century Ailments Caused By Smart Phones and Tablets,” by Saadia Chevel.

      • Nomophobia (No-mobile-phone-phobia)— anxious when they ‘lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage; sleep texting (Occurs in the first two hours after a person falls asleep and they are unaware they are doing it.)”;
      • Phantom Vibration Syndrome— the belief that your phone is vibrating or ringing when it’s not.”
      • Cybersickness— caused by a disagreement between a person’s eyes and the movement perceived by their balance system. It occurs when the brain is tricked into believing they are moving while they actually remain still.”
      • Sleep Texting— when people are so fond of their smart phones that they actually send text messages while sleeping and they are unaware they are doing it.
      • Text claw is a consequence of repetitive fine motor activity. Most people work on their phones with their thumbs and in a position that’s not natural for the thumb and wrist joints. This can lead to tendinitis which is inflammation of the tendons. “
      • iPosture— This refers to the slumping and hunching over computers and hand-held devices. “
      • Screen Sightedness— there has been a 35 per cent increase in the number of people with advancing myopia (short sightedness) since the launch of smart phones in 1997.”
      • Dry Eye Syndrome— When people are concentrating on looking at a screen their blinking rate is reduced by a third. This leads to a higher rate of tear evaporation which is one of the leading causes of dry eye syndrome. This can, eventually, lead to permanent eye damage.”

      I do realize there are and will be exceptions and they will be very exceptional. These exceptions will be the “on fire” youthful remenant and the “resistance / resiliance warriors” of our future. They will be committed beyond belief and willing to pay the ultimate price for their convictions. We need to find and train them now as quickly as possible. We’re running out of time.

  4. Conclusion

    Some have accused me of being “too experienced in life”. They say, “We, younger people, can do just fine. Sure, we will make mistakes, but we’ll be okay.” Me, I want to learn/profit from the “experiences” of others and not duplicate their lack of know-how. I don’t have enough time to confirm ignorance and the lack of wisdom and poor judgment. The above is food for thought. Please, pass it on to the next 10 generations.

    “To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:3-7 (KJV)