Monday, November 22, 2010

The Isolation Trap

There is a trap that first responders like police officers fall into. It works like this:

First responders typically spend their days dealing with an endless round of tragedy. Every day they deal with people who stop communicating with words and start communicating with fists. All week they attend an interminable series of accidents and heartache too often caused by someone's stupidity. All month they deal with an ceaseless see of faces of people trapped in addictions which are fueled by a life of crime. You may think that the upcoming Christmas season, advertised as a time of peace and goodwill to mankind, would be an exception to this. That's not the police officer's perception. Christmas is the time of year when people who haven't seen each other for a long time get together, have a few drinks... and then remember why they haven't seen each other in a long time. For the cop, Christmas is an unending series of interventions in violent domestic squabbles. The world is a chaotic and often dangerous place.

Here's the trap: Because this is all they see in a backbreaking schedule of lengthy shifts and overtime, they sink into the perception that this is all there is out there. That, as you might imagine, is a pretty depressing place to be.

First responders aren't alone in this. On my daily walks I frequently pass people plodding to the bus stop, the store, the appointment, head down, shoulders hunched, avoiding eye contact, fearful of the world around them.

So here's what we all need to do for one another. When you pass that person in the street, say hello. When you're at the store, hold the door for the person behind you, and say hello.

That's it. Just smile and say hello.

By doing this you're reminding these people that this chaotic world doesn't just contain tragedy, that the bedlam they percieve actually has some sane inhabitants. There are good people out there, though we sometimes don't notice them. It doesn't hurt to remind others about that. Actually it makes a big difference, because it makes people feel that they have a purpose and that they are not alone. Especially at this time of the year.

For more thoughts about Yule, check out the Order of Scathach blog:

In Her Service, Kerr


Caroline said...

These little things are what has kept me over the past year or so sane ...

Kerr Cuhulain said...

Glad I've been able to help then. KC