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.