Living in a World Full of Trigger-Happy People
If I type “define trigger happy” in my Google search bar, I read “ready to react violently, especially by shooting, on the slightest provocation”. The spectrum or continuum of provocation could range from mild feelings of anxiety to full blown violence as we have witnessed with the most recent school shooting.
The young man responsible for what happened in Parkland, FL, did not wake up one morning and decide to go shoot up his classmates at school. What happened at Stoneman Douglas and what happened at Sandy Hook and can likely happen again without intervention and understanding at every level is what Dr. Ivy Bonk defines, what some are calling, The Nassar Effect.
The Nassar Effect is the compounding and gross impact of a situation when left untended, ignored, or avoided becomes, by its reality and magnitude, unavoidable. It is the ultimate manifestation of the unintended consequences of untended wounds.
On display and as a result of the recent shooting, you have those who become “up-in-arms” or triggered by anyone who might want to blame what happened in Parkland, FL on mental illness or those that want to blame everything on guns. All the blaming and rejecting is in reality our own defense and deflecting from personal responsibility. Deflection many times, because we simply don’t know what to do, so it is easier to blame someone else or something else. Brenne’ Brown tells us that blame gives us some semblance of control. “Blame”, she says, “is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability.”
It is difficult to argue that an automatic weapon that was used to take the lives of 17 people should have ever been accessible. It is as equally difficult, in my opinion, to argue that the young man responsible was not mentally fragile. Being mentally fragile doesn’t mean you don’t know what you are doing and shouldn’t be held responsible, but obviously his ability to make sound and rational decisions had been severely impaired.
“Holding ourselves accountable is a vulnerable process”, Brown says. Maybe a first step to being vulnerable during this time is admitting this is an all-hands-on-deck deal. I recently (before the incident in Florida) shared with a group,
“We don’t have ears to hear what we don’t want to hear, until we need to hear it, because when we get to the point of needing to hear it, is it hard to hear and that is because when something is hard to hear, it requires you and I to do something. And if by chance we were still wondering if it is time to do something, it’s time.”
After I shared this one person said to me, “people don’t do something, because they don’t know what to do”. My response, “admit it is time to do something, and that you don’t know what to do, and then after you admit that you don’t know what to do, get busy finding out what it is.” Here is one suggestion:
Seize any opportunity that you have to make a child feel safe and secure and I don’t mean go get your concealed carry license. In case anyone is wondering, “armed and dangerous” is not a scenario conducive to learning. No, I mean take time with students, make eye contact with them, let them know they are valued, build relationships with them, listen to what they are saying, give them a hug or gentle touch. All childhood trauma creates or occurs from a place of insecure attachment. If you look for opportunities every day to build healthy attachments with students, or support those (classroom educators, caseworkers, counselors, etc.) who are in positions to build healthy attachments with students, you are helping to reset a foundation that will begin to deter future incidents like we have recently witnessed.
This article is a copy of a post from The Interrupter Blog. If you would like more information about the work at IMAGINAL Education Group, contact Dr. Ivy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Ivy Bonk is Educational Psychologist/Consultant with IMAGINAL Education Group, Founder/President of ReThink Learning, Inc. She is author of The Day Trauma Came to Class and architect of The Lost Child Theory.