My heart physically aches. My brain is numb. It feels like someone gave my soul a paper cut.
Sunday morning: The phone illuminates an empty patient room. I snuck away to chart my morning assessments, only to be greeted with a harsh reality that our innocent bubble has been broken. Another massive tragedy. Another faceless gunman. Another precious day polluted by the shadow of death.
I tend to perseverate on the news. My brain loves the dopamine jolt of a juicy news story. I must keep my curiosity in check because I often fall down the news hole…only to awaken three days later, covered in chips and sweat. This Sunday was no different. I sat in my patient’s room and we quietly watched as the Orlando massacre unfolded. So many questions…who? why? how many?
My mind immediately reverts back into an anxious state, convinced that the world is ending and many attacks will follow. That is the weird thing about terrorism…being anxious about the next attack is proving to not be such an extreme reaction. Look at the past few years: Fort Hood, Boston Bombing, Chattanooga Shooting, San Bernardino shooting. For the first time in my life, my anxious thoughts might truly be validated. Normally, my repetitive worries represent irrational fears, which are easy to challenge and reframe. This…this fear of where our world is headed…is a realistic thought process. I never thought I would see the day.
My generation grew up with words like “terror, ISIS, Al Qaeda, terrorism, massacre” as part of the colloquialism of family gatherings. These vicious acts have almost become a numb aspect of the American psyche.
Um, 50 people were killed by one man claiming allegiance to ISIS. Terribly sad. Oh… what would you like for dinner?
I worry we have become so accustomed to the horrific news that our guard is down. The hateful acts still feel “far away” even on American soul. The bystander effect kicks in…”it would never happen to me.” Well, it could and I urge you to exercise your right to knowledge about self-protection.
The logical part of my brain is thinking that I do have statistics on my side and that a terror attack will never touch my life. The emotional side of my noggin is screaming for awareness and vigilance because another attack is right around the corner. We could have another 50 innocent victims in the coming weeks. The unpredictability of it is almost too much to bare. So, what is the solution? If I had a real one, I would be running for office.
In my book, the solution is to harness the anxious energy and convert it into logical planning. Research. Plan. Communicate. Get with your coworkers and discuss a plan for an active shooter in the workplace. Create an emergency contact. Learn basic techniques for disarming someone. Be vigilant in your personal fight against terror, thus giving us a universal strength against the enemy.
Love and Light (and a little bit of ammo).
Thanks to the man who not only fought the war on terror for many years, but who teaches me so much about self-defense and awareness.