The title itself is disturbing. Why? When people speak of this, all sorts of things happen.
Eyebrows are raised. People become concerned. Those in law enforcement and in the military and anti-terrorism organizations may question whether there are reasons for concern simply because someone spoke or wrote these words down.
Others quarrel over gun control laws. People become angry and exchange insults. Things settle down. Then another incident shows up in the news. Is it a terrorist act? Is it the unresolved anger of a victim of bullying? Is it a disgruntled fired employee? Or a person who felt cheated and robbed and abused in everything related to divorce? Or did a person feel abused and cheated out of justice in the courtroom? Did an abuser fear being reported or incarcerated?
Whether we support or oppose gun control, if the fear of guns could be removed, there would still be the threat of poisons, knives, hatchets, axes, bombs, vehicles, fire, arrows, spears, and who knows what? It seems if we want to bring down violence of this sort, we have to be pro-active. We have to examine the triggers. But more than that, we have to examine what builds up the pressure in some people to the point where they are in danger of exploding. Once we have a list of triggers and pressure builders, then we can look into how best to reduce or eliminate those.
Building a List of Triggers
I do not have military or law enforcement experience, and I would not presume to have as much insight into this problem or how best to resolve it as those who have studied it from every angle for years. Some study it from the perspective of a psychologist, a police officer, a swat team member, the FBI, real experts in the field.
But I do know what it is like to be angered, to feel that dread, the loss that can at least drive a person to rant. Many people have. Personally, I believe the concerns or triggers experienced by any person can lend insight. Not all terrorists are triggered by the same thing, and the fact that something would not trigger one person does not mean it would not trigger someone else. For that reason, it is better to collect a list of triggers first and then prioritize them later.
I would like to start a list of triggers here and if you would like to help add to this list, feel free to add a comment to the end of this article. When collecting a list of anything whether they are items for a project plan or entities for a database design, when the list starts to become substantial, the items will tend to fall into natural groupings. Grouping those items together can call to memory other potential items or in this case triggers,. The groupings may help to identify which agencies to work with. Or they might identify potential projects, or they may help to identify which people or agencies to work with or what non-profits to form. Or it can identify products or services for a business to make available as long as it does not take unfair advantage of desperate people or promise something that cannot be delivered.
Starting the List
I have experienced some trigger which have upset me tremendously. While violence has never been my modus operandus, I have experienced pain, depression, despair, anger, and periods of intense ranting and raging against those who I felt were responsible for causing injustices either against me or against others. So I will start with those that come to mind for me. I will also take note of things that seemed to upset others I knew or things I suspect may have triggered terrible tragedies I have seen in the news or perhaps we have all seen in the news. Again, please feel free to add to the list and later on see if there are any efforts you may want to become involved with, or lead.
List of Potential Triggers
- Cyber bullying
- School bullying from fellow students over time
- School bullying from teachers–grade bullying, public shaming.
- Pain from false accusations.
- Also pain from true accusations, being held responsible or judged while others are not judged.
- Rejection from a love interest.
- Break up.
- Things that trigger fear of getting in trouble, shame.
- Fear of abuse.
- Feelings of injustice.
- Divorce and losses associated–children, home, property, income, loss of marriage.
- Drug addiction leading to robbery.
- Unfair government sanctions. Punishments for being poor. Deprivation of faithful parents in a divorce. Revoking drivers’ license unjustly. Child support that is not child support.
- Removal of children from the home.
- Being fired.
- Frustration finding work due to discrimination–race, gender, age, things that bring hopelessness anger.
- Being denied a leg-up promised–unemployment for a short time, sale of storage items, repossession of a vehicle.
- Denial of perceived rights.
- Constant rejection, mockery, taunting and abuse
- Obsession and rejection from a love interest.
- Bunny burner–rejection after date or sexual encounter
- A child abuse or a molestation.
- Rage over criminals who got away with their crime.
- Rage over rejection for employment or for joining a club.
- Ostracizing of any sort.
- Death of a parent, a child, a spouse, a sibling, a friend, a loved one.
- Robbery as an act of desperation but resulting in a shoot-out or hostage situation.
Something came to mind as I tried to start this list, and that is that it could be enlightening to create a list of targets. For instance, some acts of violence have had specific targets–a race, a religion, an organization, a gender, or sexual preference, membership in a particular gang.
One thing that should come to mind is that if someone is thinking about going toward any of these forms of violence, the payoff is not good. It is not the right or best way to handle a problem. Whatever someone’s fantasies or fears maybe, such actions can only make things worse while failing to solve the problem.
If a person hopes to go out in a flame of glory and carry a message to those who remain living, the message will likely be misunderstood or missed altogether. There will likely be those who don’t want the message to be received. There will likely be people who want to punish the person causing the violence by refusing to accept their message or even fighting against it.
The best thing a person can do in the face of rejection is to respect the rights of others to reject. The best thing is to refuse to validate their rejection or their mockery. Allow it to be a part of them and not you. This is their problem, their foolishness, their blindness, their lack of wisdom, their lack of integrity. Externalize it as long as you can do so honestly. And if it reveals something you can and should improve, then by all means count it a great success that you received knowledge that will empower you to improve. And if someone else gets the benefit out of your improvements, so be it. That’s a good thing.
The important thing is to gain insight, to improve your perspective, to learn how to feel that pain of rejection and control yourself–make a choice how you will respond, evaluate possible responses, and choose which one is best rather than just firing back in anger. If it is hard, allow yourself to celebrate when you win. Celebrate your little victories. Don’t wait until the big victory comes.
What I just said in the previous question should brighten a light-bulb in your mind. It may be a huge key to bringing down violence on a large scale.
Self-control and development of healthy perspectives are skills to be developed just like math, English, History, or any other thing taught in school. But this has a direct value and improvement to life. In that sense, it is more like study habits that help some students get higher grades, but more important.
Change of Perspective
If we want to see a change in behavior, there has to be a change of heart and perspective. And angry people don’t change their minds simply by being told to snap out of it. In fact, it may help to make another list of things that people do that don’t work.
- Telling people they’re wrong–this angers them more.
- Patronizing. This fans their anger into a raging fire.
- Dismissive attitudes. This sets up an adversarial attitude.
- Betrayal of any kind. This destroys trust and eliminates opportunities for helping.
- Upbraiding, scolding, criticizing, threatening, bullying, mocking. This lights the fuse directly.
- Lecturing. This may include Socratic questions if the person feels belittled or played.
- Pat solutions. Trying to “fix” the problem with off-the-shelf solutions everyone already knows.
- Reasoning why their perspective is inferior, unwise, unenlightened, foolish.
Personally, what I believe works must involve de-escalation, and you cannot de-escalate by commanding them to calm down or snap out of it. It cannot happen with a threat of having them arrested. It takes empathy.
Empathy is not telling them you know what they’re talking about. It is not saying “I know, I know, I know”. That only makes them feel you don’t know and you are only trying to get them to stop talking so you can preach at them.
Empathy requires active listening. Asking, “Do I understand correctly that you are concerned about X?” or “Do I understand correctly that you’re telling me X?” Don’t tell them you understand, but show them, and make sure you do understand where they are coming from. Just the fact somebody listened can go miles in taking away a person’s hopelessness and desperation and feeling they have to engage in violence to get someone to listen.
When things de-escalate, discuss the possibility of finding a good solution together. Instead of focusing on what you cannot do or telling them, “We can’t do that” every time they suggest something, try suggesting what you can to together. What you can do matters. What you cannot do has no value, and focusing on those things can only increase a sense of desperation and hopelessness.
Applying These Ideas
Looking at the list of triggers, what faulty perspectives bring people to violence as a problematic solution? How might one listen actively and propose a positive plan of action for solving each problem on both a small scale and a large scale?
It is awesome when you can help stop violence before it happens. But how much more awesome would it be to help people on a large scale? What if the root issues that have thousands or millions of people upset could be resolved so that our nation stops being speckled with examples of violence on a small scale in nearly every large city?
How can we make our world a better place?