Complacency: The Sudden Killer
complacency: (Noun) 1. a feeling of contented self-satisfaction, especially when unaware of impending trouble
It's a beautiful autumn day, the leaves cascading as they are gently blown from their perches high in the branches of towering oaks that have been rooted firmly in the ground for decades. Nothing has threatened nor touched them, and as their genetics dictate, they go dormant in a splash of brilliant color. However, on the horizon, storm clouds are gathering to bring a blight of cold upon the land, disrupting the quiet beauty of the autumn with the cold, unforgiving grip of winter.
You sit there on your porch, sipping your beverage as the sun fades into the horizon, taking in the tranquility of the world around you, all cares leaving your mind, and you are unaware of the storm that is coming for you, that is about to shatter your life and change your world forever.
Just as the trees, we too are dictated to go dormant just as our winter is about to come upon us, allowing our wealth, peace, and prosperity to sedate our minds.
They often call it the 'calm before the storm', that moment of stillness and relief that heralds the terrible winds and flashing lighting, the hail raining down destruction upon the land. These winds are winds of change, ones that can turn even the smallest of trifles into deadly projectiles.
One the single greatest weaknesses that mankind as a whole is susceptible to is complacency. We believe only what we can see with our own two eyes. It is engrained into our nature. Therefore, if no threats are seen or realized, we allow ourselves to be trapped in the faulty perception that all is right and fine, a reality that quenches urgency and blinds foresight. We are all subject to it as individuals and as groups...as nations. As a people, we tend to either forget the past and refuse to learn from it, or turn our backs on the possibilities and ignore what the future may hold. However, change is the only constant, or so they say. History is ripe with examples of how complacency can kill, how the winds of change can turn into tempests, bending the fabric of history.
Example 1: It's a normal gorgeous morning on the beaches of Hawaii. The sun is slowly rising in the East, the sky is turning a spectrum of different colors and a slight breeze blows over the palms as the tide predictably washed in and out. It has been like this for its entire existence. To be stationed there is a bit of good fortune, as it is a place of peace and tranquility where one can avoid having a care in the world. Walking through the sand, looking up at the purple and orange sky, a slight sound can be heard in the distance. From within the rising blinding orb that is the dawning sun, several black specks appear, a slight, high-pitched rumbling of multiple engines can be heard. They pass right overhead and head straight for the harbor's ships and facilities. Then the bombs begin to drop. Complacency: foolishness.
Example 2: The economy is through the roof, and people are happy. If we can just get through this presidential election mess, life will be grand again. We are the greatest country in the world and none can hurt us. We are invincible, infallible. Do you hear a rumble? Did another bomb go off? It does not matter, for that was way over seas, not here, and therefore, we don't care. There is no threat to us, and we will ignore the possibilities, even as alarming data begins to pour into our intelligence networks. Then another bomb goes off, and then another, and another. Then we wake up one September morning and find that two of our towers, four of our planes, and three thousand plus of our people are gone forever. Complacency. blindness.
Example 3: It's coming straight for us, a Category 5 hurricane. This the worst-case scenario, and we have known of the possibility for decades. But as we sit here still safe in our homes, we see no immediate threat that would require action. The levees should hold and feds will come and clean up our mess. The meteorologists are saying that the eye split in two. No need for a full, forced evacuation. We don't even need our buses, so we'll let them sit there. Then, as our bowl-shaped city fills with the waters of a stormsurge, we do all that we can: wait for the feds as our city is turned inside out by rampant chaos. But then we discover that the feds are just as complacent as we were, caught unprepared for one of the worst disasters to hit this nation. Complacency: deadly.
Example 4: Millions of people from other nearby countries are flooding into our borders. We let them in the name of political correctness and an illusion of benevolence, and the argument that their being here helps us. It does not matter that they are hear illegally. We need the people to do jobs that we won't. Let them come in by the hundreds of thousands of millions and not assimilate, deluding our cultures and turning our own people from being the head of the beast to the tail as they are outnumbered in what can only be described as a full-scale invasion. And to prove just how well we can ignore this threat, we'll even be afraid to bring it up or do anything proactive about it as our country, our homeland, is taken from us by outsiders.
And these are but a few more recent examples from US history out of hundreds to thousands that could be chosen from in the annals of human history.
As a good example of how this translates into our own everyday lives, I'll use myself as an example. Things are going very well for me right now on all fronts. However, such things are not meant to last. I bring it up because I plan on practicing what I preach. I'm not going to let up.
Things are peaceful and good, but this is not a time to relax. Times of peace are a time to move forward even farther, opportunities to for greater progress, to push higher. Certainly, they also mean a breath of fresh air and a decrease in stress. But they must not be treated as holidays, for the slightest thing could send me into a death spiral.
Now that I have my goals backed into the corner, it' is time to push even harder, stronger. The doors have all been opened. I just need to run through them at full speed, screaming a battle cry as I do, because though things are going well now, it is not meant to last. But by attacking at full strength, I can make it last just a little bit longer, and ensure that when the tempest does hit, the damage will be lessened, perhaps severely.
However, I came to a startling realization the other day. For all of my efforts, for all of my work, for all of the battles fought both won and lost, I am getting no closer to ultimate victory. For the last couple years, I have wondered why, wondered how it could be getting even harder as I go along, instead of easier. I had always been under the illusion that hard work paid off in ways of peace and victory.
But I have come to the realization, and I'm not sure how, that this war that I'm fighting will never end. The reason things haven't been getting better or easier, despite my best efforts, has nothing to do with how skilled or smart I am, it has nothing to do with my work being inferior in any way. The reason why I fail is because I am fighting a battle that is already lost. How can it already be lost? Well, the truth of the matter is, the war never ends. No matter how many mountains I conquer, there always the trip back down. And following that, there is always something else that comes along, another obstacle, another fight. There is no peace, there is no ultimate victory. The opponent is eternal, everlasting, and it cannot be beaten. That's why it is a battle already lost, because there is no way that I can win. I can fight forever and never ultimately come out on top.
Who is the opponent? What is it that I'm fighting for, and by extension, fighting against? What are we all fighting against, fighting for? The answer is TIME.
We fight against time and we fight for time. We work so that we can have money to spend time doing what we wish, and in the process fight against time to get things done quickly, for time never seems to be on our side. The illusion measured as time is a constant tide of change, one that we cannot ever forget about or ignore, lest such a tide bring a tsunami down upon our heads.
Complacency is a symptom of our forgetfulness. Once something horrific and un-foreseen has occurred, we tend to forget about it and move on. That's not to say that we don't remember what happened. What we forget was how it felt, and why it happened in the first place. The United States seems to have this trait in mass abundance, where there are even movements pushing people to forget about what had come upon them from out of the clear blue sky. Media outlets join them in this effort as all images and mentions are completely erased from the public square.
How dangerous is that? We all knew that it happened, in the back of our minds. But do we really still REMEMBER any more as why it happened and what it meant? Why else are our current efforts being derided or ignored? People have moved on in an unhealthy and unwise way, and this nation, unfortunately, seems to be moving towards complacency once again, ignoring the threats that still face us, seeing them as a mere triviality.
There is no such thing as total security, as some things are completely out of our control. However, keeping a watchful vigil can keep us prepared to the best our ability to face the worst.
We need to look beyond our own realities and awaken from our dreams to realize the truth. We must stop looking only at what is currently before us, and begin to consider what could be coming upon us if we do not act accordingly, what illusion the of safety could be hiding. We must not allow ourselves to sleep as war is made upon us.
There is a fine line between being vigilant and paranoid, and there is another extreme in this struggle, one of over-aggression and oppression in the name of peace and order and quelling potential threats. This is an extreme of paranoia and total control in the name of the 'greater good'. There are those that fear this, and rightly so. However, there are groups sending a harmful message of complacency and forgetfullness, encouraging us to move on from the tragedies without learning from them and realizing what must be done to prevent history from repeating itself. While we cannot prevent every bad thing from happening, as much of it is a product of our very beings, to keep that watchful vigil on the horizon and look beyond what is presented before us, we must find that balance between complacency and aggression, and never let our guards down.
'The War' never ends, for the struggle is eternal. No matter what challenges face us, total victory is unattainable, as in most cases, we are fighting the products of a world, a system that we have built for ourselves, and this is part of the reason of how we can get too comfortable with our current reality. The truth is, this is an imperfect world made up of imperfect people, and nothing will ever go right for long under those circumstances. It's a flight of fancy to believe otherwise, and we must not allow ourselves to fall into that trap, lest complacency kill us in our sleep once again.
About the Author: Shadowflare is a webmaster whose webspace can be found at http://www.thewhisper.net. There his personal blog can be found, which is full of opinion pieces such as these. On December 31st, 2005, he's opening his own internet community to the world. The focal point of the site however is 'Project Legacy'. What it is, remains a mystery to all.