When Arnold Schwarzenegger says that the ‘Government’s first duty and highest obligation is public safety,’ one just nods his head. But despite such strong words and emotions travelling through the centuries, we still find ourselves a trifle insecure and unsafe… despite all the progress in all fronts… despite the umbrella of technology… despite pepper sprays in the purse… despite Swiss knives to flaunt… despite gym-toned bodies. However, it isn’t one factor alone that helps it is always a combination of security measures that become powerful enough to save even the tiniest or the most timid of us when the situation gets grim.
Prepare and prevent
Why repair and repent?
So think to be safe
From a subliminal dent!
Obviously, a high level of preparation is useful… but before that we need to identify areas where we can flounder and then take steps to strengthen them. Some such areas are what I have listed below… and I call it my RULE BOOK.
Do I allow lack of knowledge and information to make me drown in insecurity?
Horace Mann wrote: ‘Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark all is deluge.’ Why must I let the floods of illiteracy and a lack of information mercilessly throw me against the devilish boulders of crime? My best security armour is my urge to learn and then venture forth. My best bet is to keep my brain active and buzzing with all new information so that I am not surprised and ambushed.
I lean but to learn
And secure moments
I thus earn!
Do I allow myself to be dulled by fear and confusion?
I am not the inferior man. I am not the one willing to be bullied by misinformation. I am never overwhelmed by the unknown. Even H. L. Mencken writes: ‘The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear – fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety.’ Fear, by the way, is a state of mind that rushes in like a tsunami when you don’t need one… and destroys every bit of confidence that you may have harboured for ages.
So get rid of fear
Keep the mind clear
And away you’ll steer
From ugly moments, dear!
‘But how do I conquer my fear?’ you might as well ask. Well, I use a combination of body language and my pursuit of information to keep fear away. Look at your feet when you attend an interview… and if you have fear in your mind, they will slink away into the deeper recesses of the chair you’re sitting on. Pull out your reluctant feet and plant them firmly in front of you… and you’ll see that you will be answering even the daintiest questions without squirming in your seat. There are postures that infuse you with confidence and these are what you need to learn. This is what I do.
Do I let my credit card go out of my sight?
Crime generally happens when you allow it to prosper in blissful isolation… and so I never let my credit card hop from one hand to another or one spot to another without my following its travel plan very closely. And, as a result, the crime-prone minds leave me alone.
What is mine must be with me
And no one else must be free
To tamper and to misuse it
Or mishandle security!
Do I roll down my car windows when a stranger knocks on it at a crossing?
Well, unless I’m sure that this stranger means no harm, I will never roll down my car window. This is one sure way miscreants can gain fast access to your vulnerable points. You are quite literally a sitting duck… and a lonely crossing late in the evening can degenerate fast into a hold-up or a crime previously unheard of.
Be safe in your own cocoon
Don’t open yourself to a goon!
Do I keep excessive cash or valuables at home… and do I forget to lock my home when I go out?
Why dangle temptations and then run around seeking help? We have the facility of bank lockers and that is where these valuables must be stored… and not under mattresses or inside book-shelves! A safe stance is always to have with you what you need and all other precious things be kept away from prying eyes. Most of the burglary cases involve insiders and they are the ones who must not be unnecessarily tempted.
Tempt not the weak in mind
For they will always find
Something great in petty crime
And such times, you can’t unwind!
Have I let myself become fat and weak to even put up a worthy fight… or make a run away if right?
It is good to be prepared for the worse in body and mind, but better to accept that even flight is not something to be mocked. A flight is right when it is to escape might and lets you be there for another day, another fight! Ralph Waldo Emerson has said: ‘In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.’ He has also emphasised that: ‘There is always safety in valor.’
Be strong to stay and fight
Or run if they have might
Elayne Boosler writes: I am thankful the most important key in history was invented. It’s not the key to your house, your car, your boat, your safety deposit box, your bike lock or your private community. It’s the key to order, sanity, and peace of mind. The key is ‘Delete.’ It is sometimes good to ‘delete’ foolhardiness and remain a bit of a coward than show misconceived courage and fight to lose the battle or your life.
Do I flaunt expensive gadgets and excessive jewellery?
And why must I? My gadget is for my ease and not to show or make others feel miserable. My jewellery is like a back-up for unsavoury times and not to be worn in places and times when its display can make my life insecure. A friend told me how her state-of-the-art smartphone was snatched and whisked away by snatchers in the middle of a busy market. She said, ‘I was there all alone and held the mobile phone in my right hand as I tried to read a message. My left hand was holding a bagful of veggies. I was looking at the message one moment and the next the phone was gone. These two guys on a bike just swiped it off my hand and disappeared even before I realised what had happened.’
So my rule book says that I must have the IMEI number of my phone and must have my phone security ON. This is what I do. Even with all this, I use my phone with utmost discretion and I never hold it aloft for I don’t need an applause from anyone.
A phone is a jewel that must
Be kept away from other’s lust!
Do I give away all my movement information on the social media?
Life is getting more and more interactive and smart… but crime is getting smarter and tends to be just as interactive. Online stalking is what can give these criminals some really busty ideas and then executing a crime involving you is easy. They can burgle your house if they know you’re a hundred miles away and happily Foursquaring your whereabouts… or tweeting about how lucky you are to have your entire family away from home for at least a day… I know you’ve got the drift. The social media is great for interaction but must not be made a base for just about every information on you…
Give yourself some cover, some shade
To keep away from a criminal’s blade!
Do I carry unlicensed arms and ammunition with me to protect me?
Well, I don’t need a revolver or a pistol or even a desi katta to protect me… all I need, however, is a sturdy and resilient Swiss knife for that unforeseen moment when crime can pop up and bust my life. Believe me, this humble device has helped me scare away a potential pick-pocket in a dark and dingy alley of Multani Dhanda in PaharGanj. Obviously, a Swiss knife has other advantages too and I love its warm presence in the outer pocket of my shoulder bag.
Every arm or knife is not
Going to put you in a spot
Being unarmed though might be
More harmful than you thought!
Do I let my gadgets conk off when I am out of home?
The worse scenario in today’s times of hi-tech will be to be in the middle of a potential scene of crime and discover that your smartphone battery is dead. That is not just tragic, but stupidity because you have power banks available quite freely everywhere. Just make sure that if you have gadgets, they are always charged and ready for you!
This final rule that I mentioned has an interesting corollary too. There are security and safety apps that are waiting to be used. One of them is the Smart Suraksha App… all it needs is a one touch action to beam your SOS message to five of your chosen contacts. The message is geo-tagged and location too in indicated even if your GPS isn’t ON.
Now the point I was making here is that a smart gadget is as useful as the presence of smart apps in it… and obviously, you as a user too would need to be a smart user.
Our security is thus in our hands… and we need to do that with all the smart guile that we can manage in these smart times.
25 October 2013