Fayetteville, Arkansas over the last decade has constructed an extensive network of multi-use paved trails that prove many miles for walking and riding without having to dodge automobile traffic.  But too many out enjoying a pleasant day seem to think that a lack of cars means paying attention is no longer necessary.

I was treated to an example of this recently.  The etiquette of the trail is to let people know if you’re passing them by calling out something along the lines of “on your left.”  But this assumes that everyone is alert.  The fellow who drifted left as I was passing him after having declared my intention illustrates what I mean.  As I was working to avoid colliding with him, I spotted the headphones rammed in his ears and realized what the problem was.

The oblivious fellow was a perfect case of what Jeff Cooper called Condition White.  People in this condition stumble through life, blissfully inattentive to anything beyond a fascination with what may or may not be going on in their own heads.

Those of us who carry guns legally spend a lot of time talking about Cooper’s conditions and situational awareness.  But it’s important for us to understand what makes a person not wish to be aware and what staying alert actually means.

Going about in Condition White may be due to mere laziness, and that’s an affliction that is common to all of humanity.  Or it may be fear—fear of having to take action, fear of risking pain and loss.  Guaranteeing that you will lose the fight is a kind of victory for some—the outcome is chosen, even if not one that a healthy mind would prefer.

This act of abnegation of responsibility is one that we who carry become sensitive to.  It is jarring to see someone drifting down a hallway, gaze glued to a cell phone, crash into walls or fellow occupants of the space.  This is reminiscent of people who toss trash out their car windows.  It’s not so much that they don’t care about the harm they are inflicting on the rest of us.  In many cases, they simply haven’t taken the time to consider that there is a world outside of themselves.

Sadly, we in the gun community have our own share of these oblivious types.  Go to a gun range or to a place in the woods where shooters practice, and you’ll see what The Yankee Marshal recently described, spent shells, plastic ammunition trays, shredded targets, damaged scenery, and empty junk food bags.  I realize that brass casings fly far and wide, but a good rule is to pick up more shells than you expend, regardless of who fired them, along with as much rubbish as you can carry.

And I’m sure that my readers here are with me on this.  But we all need the occasional reminder to take off the ear buds, put away the electronics, come down from nirvana to reality, and give attention to the world around us.

Otherwise, people will be shouting at us what I said after swerving around the unaware cyclist:  Your other left!

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.

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