Stand Up

I cannot help but think of the 26 children and teachers who were killed in Newtown, Connecticut December 14th. Two weeks before Christmas.  What does it say about a society where mass shootings are becoming the norm?  What does it say about the killer, and what provokes the immense rage behind such acts?

Are people so alienated from one another that someone can retreat into their own world and convince themselves that this is the best way to go?  The politics of difference play a role here.  How to broach the many levels of difference that exist? Different cultures, different backgrounds, and the horror that anyone challenge our politically correct way of presenting ourselves serve to keep us apart.

Academics have long discussed interacting with the “other”, and in fact many clinicians are trained to approach this “other”. What about the “us”?

I have to question whether our leaders are equipping us with the tools to break through stigma and communicate through the divide. People are terrified of confronting social conventions, simply cannot be bothered or don’t know how to break through. Or perhaps, they are unconsciously or consciously aware of the benefits to themselves when others are in a less privileged position. It puffs up one’s ego, and allows one to sidestep responsibility.

Our liberal universities teach us all kinds of ideas about human rights, equality and open-mindedness. But do they really show people that they are benefitting in their pocketbooks and in their self-defined interests from these social inequalities? At one point, people seem to place a veil in front of their face and convince themselves that their behavior is in line with their values. And the fact that they are privileged is because of their own hard work and initiative. It is extremely difficult to ask someone to sacrifice something of themselves, or to challenge their reputations or incomes.

I’ve always questioned why this is the case. Where is the courage that our society demands? Why are people so afraid to stand up?  As Stanley Milgram discovered in his obedience experiments in the 1960s, people can be herded up like sheep to inflict pain on others. I encourage everyone reading this blog to get the dialogue started and to stop being so scared. It isn’t helping.


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Posted in Non classé.

Posted on 16 Dec 2012, by Janina Komaroff

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4 comments to Stand Up

  1. Patricia L.
    On Dec 16th 2012 at 21:28
    Reply

    Grief is faceless.
    The collective ‘WE’ has failed. It’s up to the individuals behind it to take a stand. By caring about another and paying attention to the little things which eventually add up and become a problem. One slips into rage probably the same way you wake up one day and realize it’s winter, only you know the temperature has been dropping for weeks already. The same way a bad habit becomes an annoying trait, then a real problem, which eventually turns into an addiction.
    My point is, yes, there is a trigger; a tipping point eventually, but the potential for it was there all along. And WE, around that person either notice or we don’t or we pretend we don’t even though it’s there. Maybe we’re not properly equipped to deal with our own selves, our own thoughts, which makes it entirely impossible to deal with the other.

  2. Patricia L.
    On Dec 16th 2012 at 21:36
    Reply

    (Sorry, typo in my previous post)
    Grief is faceless.
    The collective ‘WE’ has failed. It’s up to the individuals behind it to take a stand. By caring about another and paying attention to the little things which eventually add up and become a situation. One slips into rage probably the same way you wake up one day and realize it’s winter, only you know the temperature has been dropping for weeks already. The same way a bad habit becomes an annoying trait, then a real problem, which eventually turns into an addiction.
    My point is, yes, there is a trigger; a tipping point eventually, but the potential for it was there all along. And WE, around that person either notice or we don’t or we pretend we don’t even though it’s there. Maybe we’re not properly equipped to deal with our own selves, our own thoughts, which makes it entirely impossible to deal with the other.

    • Linda Lee Ross
      On Dec 17th 2012 at 10:07
      Reply

      Beautifully written Janina ! As a mom of a child who will start school next year, I have been literally sick to my stomach since last week about this heart wrenching event; what the tiny people experienced who were there, the families, the community, and then having to deal with the intrusion of the media en plus…

      Very courageous of you to find the words to speak to this…

  3. Romualdo Barillaro
    On Dec 17th 2012 at 09:30
    Reply

    I also can’t understand this tradedy it’ so sad and a great loss of what could have been for these young lives. They will spend billions of dollars trying to see if there is life on other planets why don’t they spend that on saving lives on ours. They should use those funds to help Mental Health, Homelessness etc..
    And again last night in California a shooter in a shopping center thank God no one was hurt. And how can we de-stigmatize Mental health when that’s all you hear on the news It’s time for the governments both Provincal & federal to get their acts together.

    Thanks Janina for letting me vent, a writing a great article.
    Ray