What happens when we ignore red flags?

By Patrice Lewis

One morning last summer, I went outside to release the chickens from their coop. Normally they rushed to the compost pile or the barn or some other usual haunt; but this time they all stood stock-still under the awning by their coop, utterly silent. Their heads were cocked upward. I scanned the skies for a predator but didn’t see anything.

But I was wrong, and the chickens were right. Perched way atop a dead tree was a great blue heron. A heron is a carnivore, but its usual prey is fish, frogs, etc. It would certainly never attack a chicken – not so much because it wouldn’t mind a nice juicy little chick, but because its body is not suitable to a swoop-and-catch like a hawk or eagle. But the hens, responding to a deep-seated instinct, knew it paid to be wary.

Here on the farm and living as we do on the edge of the wild, we often see cases of “situational awareness” animal-style. But this short and seemingly trivial incident actually has some deeper implications for people.

In the kill-or-be-killed crucible of nature, to ignore a potential threat may be the last thing an animal ever does. Yet people will do it all the time. Modern humans living in a modern society with modern conveniences have learned to ignore the internal red flags all creatures possess by instinct. In fact, most Americans have cultivated an amazing ability to disregard warning signs, both internal and external. We still have the instincts, but we’re often too “civilized” to pay attention to them.

But I figure instinct is there for a reason, and that reason might be very important. It’s crucial to listen to that still, small voice inside saying something is wrong. God gives us those little red flags now so we can avoid big problems later.

Ignoring red flags is nothing new. Get online and do a search for “ignoring red flags,” and you’re blitzed with advice on relationship issues. I personally believe an enormous number of failed marriages result from ignoring these red flags while dating.

But what if it goes deeper? If we ignore flags in relationships, where else do we ignore them?

Most mature, responsible people just want to be left alone to do their own thing. We work, support our families, raise our children, pursue our hobbies, socialize with friends and family, and otherwise just try to be good people and make a modest contribution to society.

Because most of us are, well, normal, we frequently suffer from what’s called the Normalcy Bias, defined as a mental state that “causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects.” It’s sometimes called the “It can’t happen here” syndrome.

Because of this normalcy bias, we ignore red flags. We see things for how we want them to be, not the reality of how they are. Europe is undergoing a classic example of this. Leaders there are vehemently denying the cause of massive spikes in rapes, terrorism and mayhem because they “want” all immigrants to be, well, normal, instead of psychopathic killers bent on world domination.

While we pursue our quiet, ordinary lives, we must pay attention to what’s happening around us as well. Like chickens watching for predators, we need to scan our horizons for potential threats and react accordingly on a personal level.

Yes, on a personal level. Very few of us can impact what happens nationally or internationally, but most of us can react to threats to our own selves and our families – if we acknowledge those threats exist. In other words, the first thing to do is strip away our Normalcy Bias and acknowledge the smoke on the horizon means a fire is coming. Awareness, as they say, is half the battle.

What is happening to the economy, and what can we do on a personal level to keep our own canoe from tipping over? Is it time to downscale and get out of debt, and perhaps stockpile some beans, bullets and Band-Aids?

What is happening in our schools, and what can we do on a personal level to keep our children from being indoctrinated into values antithetical to our own? Is it time to put them in a private school or homeschool them?

What is happening to our nation, and what can we do on a personal level to keep the insanity from getting worse? What candidate shows the greater love of country and the ability to recognize enormous elephants in the room when it comes to threats and dangers?

Nikita Khrushchev famously said, “You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright; but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you will finally wake up and find that you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you; we’ll so weaken your economy, until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands.”

An even older quote comes from Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.), who said: “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”

The fact is, very little happens that doesn’t give some sort of advanced warning. All it takes is vigilance and a determination not to depend wholly on the mainstream media, which tend to filter world and national events to support their own agenda.

Folks, it’s time to recapture that internal instinct and pay attention to red flags. And then prepare yourself physically, financially and spiritually. Learn how to safeguard your home and family; learn how to safeguard your money; and learn how to safeguard your soul.

Above all, keep your eyes peeled for predators. Surely we can all be at least as wise as a barnyard chicken.

Learn how to achieve a simple lifestyle without “going green” or joining a monastery. Read Patrice Lewis’ helpful book, “The Simplicity Primer: 365 Ideas for Making Life more Livable”

Media wishing to interview Patrice Lewis, please contact [email protected].

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