Desensitized- A New Normal?

Mist and Fog of Denali National Park, Alaska

     Desensitization is a process where the reality of life is colored by the continued saturation of stressful actions, situations and surroundings. Wanting to survive this stress, we find a way to rationalize what we experience and to put it simply “make it normal” in our own little world. That is my own perception of desensitization as I make sense of what I have been introduced to over my many years working in the world of violent crimes.

     Not the bad guy in the boat, but an oar that helps us stay afloat and guides us as we empower ourselves to maintain in life. Yet, like a kid with too much candy…we have devoured desensitization to an extreme. In today’s world…reality is fluid and manipulated constantly by marketing schemes filled with glitz and pop and special effects. Video games must be marked for mature audiences as they powerfully exploit killing and violence- in a setting that is able to enchant and beguile the mind into a new world. Intoxicating as these games are, they are masters at desensitizing as well. And slowly…we become attached to them…and detached from reality. We learn to react with such swift responses…relying on our fingers to keep our avatars alive for one more hour. We drink the power and control…the bombs…the graphic deaths and become satiated with our victories… all of this in the privacy of our homes.

     Tv and movies also are great desensitizing tools. Those reality shows that have nothing to do with reality…The fist fights, bullying, jackass jokes and collusion of pranks that are downright spiteful yet make us laugh. Talk shows where guards are used to keep the actors apart…we watch knowing it is not real but cheering and jeering just the same. We fill our time as voyeurs in this world staring at our 55 inch screen tvs. Watching our beloved action movies where buildings are blown up, the bad guy is mowed down as the hero holds a gun in both hands and one strapped to his/her back.

     Then we come to true reality on tv. The news shows us war, strife…killing of masses across the planet whether by natural destruction or human carnage. We watch as we eat our dinner…shake our heads and wonder where we are headed- and take another bite. This is all so much for a mature person to handle, but our kids are present too and soaking this all up to fit somewhere in their world. We must remember this.

     And now we have the glamorization of guns…beautiful steel, killing machines. Sorry, I know guns don’t kill, people do….and people do so swiftly in a blink of an eye with a gun. I know that there is never a simple answer to the complex problems in life. But we need to be willing to face them nonetheless and be real. Guns…loved by many as a symbol of freedom, and patriotic righteousness. Hated by others as symbols of war, hatred and death. There is such a divide, the bottom of the crevasse between beliefs is bottomless.

     But those who kill no longer look at life as valuable, only seeing through a screen of anger, rage and depression- the list is long. And they kill, successfully obtaining brief moments of power and control over their world. We grieve for the losses, valid tears of deep sorrow for the innocent. But we are not willing to change our ways. Too addictive, too seductive. Take our guns away? Our basic rights to bear arms? Never we say…just find a way to stop the violence.

     Desensitization is a drug of sorts. In little doses it helps us in a crisis. Combine it with adrenaline and we can run into a burning building to save someone, meticulously work in high stress situations with methodic rhythm and balance. But overdose and we become totally numb to the beauty of life. No longer feeling empathy, becoming self-centered…our mantra is self-preservation. We see the world as against us…must carry our concealed weapon to the park to play with our children. We eat with a sidearm strapped to us and dare not go out in public without one. This is not my reality. This is not what I want for my children and their children.

     So we must confront this new normal that we have all together created. We must sit together and discuss how to stop the tragedies from recurring. A real discussion about what this world means to us and what we want out of the future. A frank look at what is happening and the why. We must not be intimidated by corporate interests that are not human interests but money interests. We must not walk in the mist and fog of denial but face our problems, and create answers that serve all of us. A big task is ahead of us- I have hope that we are up for it.

Finding My Way Back Home


     It has been one of those days. The kind where I wonder if I got out of bed on the wrong side. The one where I seem to suck all the air out of the room with my stressful sighs- my meager attempts to relax and gain control over my emotions. Yes, it has been one of those days. I always feel a bit empty at the end of it all. My head a dry well of thoughts and unconnected to the present. I love living in the present. Stress steals me away and it is in these times that I really must work hard to find my way back home.

     I won’t get into the details of my day. Hard to frame into a picture, the puzzle is very complicated and over 1,000 pieces. But I hold out hope that things will change. I admit I am stressed by my day and the heaviness and worries of my tomorrow. I understand that while I have the luxury of venting myself within these words, others are literally struggling to survive. I must humble myself to realize that my life is but one, my thoughts and concerns but mine. How they grow and prosper is up to me and how I tend them. I am already feeling a bit better. A bit more in the present. I know that tomorrow is another day, new challenges and new stresses that I must face. But they are not here yet, I hold them out before me with hope and determination that I will once again make it through and find my way back home.


Sounds of Silence

     As I sit here surrounded by a shroud of silence, I come to relish it. There is something to love in the quiet peace at the end of the day. Looking out into the dark pool of night in the countryside. I have found that there are so many sounds of silence. I tend to welcome them often and I contemplate them even more.

Alaska- Majestic Silence

     I am one who can easily drive in solitude in my car each day. The silence around me filled with thoughts. Lists of things to do while looking back at yesterday. They fill my head. On a good day I can meander and drift into thoughts of hopes and dreams for a while. It is a good silence and keeps me moving forward. My mother used to ask me how I could be so quiet in the car. I would smile and tell her that I was thinking. She always thought aloud I guess. Not me. My best thoughts come in silence.

     However, silence can also fill the space of anger. The quiet may taste bitter with its emotion held tightly in check. The silence all-knowing that hurtful words may have been spewed never to be forgotten, or sitting on the tongue ready to fall. A silence of reflection and needed quiescence. A silence to heed.

     There is also the silence of breath held in anticipation waiting in expectation. You know it and I’m sure have heard it. When we watch competitions and just for a moment hold our hope in silence as if in a spell. Finally shattered by screams of fans in exaltation or despair. The extra point was good, the goal was made, the game won or lost. And the bit of silence is gone as quick as it showed up.

     There is the silence shared between two people when our hearts are heavy and low. It comes with sorrow or sadness and grief. It is an important sound of silence. Just and strong, it stands on its own. But many people fear this interlude and try to fill it with words and babble. It is an important quiet peace and should be respected but not feared. When left alone it says so much more than words.

     One of my favorite moments of silence is suffused with tenderness and love. It seems to suspend in time and feels fuller than the sea. The song of this silence may sing of honesty, understanding and unconditional love. Eyes meet, a gaze is shared, assured that love is pure and deep and will be forever. I can sit in this silence and watch the world drift by losing myself in its sweet fragrance. No requests and no expectations, just being in the moment with our souls.