Recently, I started reading 1984 by George Orwell. I understand now why people compare the real world to the level of government in 1984. However, I think it's important to remember it's not just the government that perpetuates this level of paranoia and mistrust of others around us. One subtle note in the book is his blatant mistrust of everyone around him as well. Thought Police details not just the government, but everyone around him.
It's the force of the government that drives the fear, but the vessel itself is paranoia and mistrust. Even when speaking of the Prole's he showed a great mistrust for them as well. So in the real world, is it safe to say that the general public is in mistrust of others? Is it safe to say that most people are untrusting of those they don't know?
I believe it is. Many times people bring up Police abuse or killings, the main point people seek is "Why would cops do this?" First and foremost the answer is mistrust. If someone is carrying something even remotely resembling a weapon Police officers are quick to assume that the person carrying it has the intention to use it to harm others.
Is this a safe assumption? Can we really assume everyone carrying a weapon has the intention to use it aggressively? What if their intention is to use it defensively? What if someone carries a gun around to make sure they are prepared to defend against someone who carries a gun to be aggressive? Is it not safe to assume that not all people want to harm others?
Perhaps the real problem with our society is we're so paranoid of others that we live in fear of harm, even from those who would mean us no harm. I don't automatically assume that an officer has the intention to or even willingness to harm me just because they're present. Just because a man or woman approaches me with no real visible signs of their intention, doesn't mean I should assume their intention is to harm me.
It is my belief that this hyper-paranoia is what is driving police brutality and killings, as well as misunderstandings that cause harm to others. Why can I make this conclusion? Because I am one of those paranoid people. It's something I've been trying to work on, because the world seems like a much better place when you don't assume everything is dangerous or everyone is trying to harm you.
So perhaps it's best to mull over the implications of fear and mistrust, rather than label it as "cautious awareness". There's cautious awareness and then there's paranoia. Please make sure to think about the distinction.