Desensitize (v): to make (someone) less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty, violence, or suffering by overexposure to such images. (Google)
The times that we are living in right now, right as I am writing this post, are pulling out an array of emotions: anger, confusion, fear, disgust, sympathy and acceptance. Acceptance. Acceptance which means that what is, is what will be. With all that is happening do we notice that we are becoming desensitized to our vivid and unmistakable reality.
The National Institute of Mental Health has done several studies about the effects of television and video game violence on young children concluding that they became desensitized. The major effects include:
- Children may be more fearful of the world around them.
- Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.
- Children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.
Do these symptoms sound familiar? Here’s what I know…
Two Fridays ago, I joined my family in the small town of Pigeon Forge, TN to attend our bi-annual family reunion. The day before, on Thursday, five policeman were killed by a single sniper in Dallas, TX. And on the Wednesday before, Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer while in his car with his girlfriend and child watching. Then the day before that, on Tuesday, Alton Sterling was shot after being restrained by police officers in front of a Triple S Food Mart with several patrons just steps away. Back on Thursday after, before I left for Tennessee and again in the same week as those incidents, I pulled over into a vacant parking lot to text, so that I wouldn’t be doing so driving, and before I could send the text I started to strategize about how quickly I could call 911 if a police officer pulled up so that they could call him and let him know that I’m not doing anything suspicious. Just avoiding an accident.
This past week, I learned of the “suicidal” hanging of a black man in Atlanta along with 84 women, men and children killed in Nice, France after a terrorist plowed through the crowd during the Annual Bastille Day celebration. That evening I didn’t shed a tear because I 1) I was out of them and 2) I knew this wasn’t going to be the last mass killing incident for terrorist or the last suspicious death of a young black man.
At work, I tried to separate what was happening in the world with what was sitting on my desk, but I couldn’t. I became mad at everyone who wanted to act like nothing was happening. Just going on with their day, not having to worry if they would see their husband again or if some stranger would walk into the building ready to make a statement with the loss of our lives. Oh wait, they don’t care because it doesn’t directly affect them. Only black women, men and children and anyone who chooses to live their Islamic faith openly.
The Check Out
Now let’s go back. Two Friday’s ago, when my family and I went to Pigeon Forge, TN. I’m glad to say that I checked out. I got off of social media, turned off CNN and any other news shows and just lived in the moment. I decided to fight what was trying to suck out the gift that God gave me, and all of us — love, hope, trust and forgiveness. So for three days straight, I didn’t do anything but drown myself in those actions.
This week, I am pleading with my readers who are falling into a desensitized state to check out. Even if it’s just for a day or an hour, check out. We all need to be focused on making things great and not settling for what is but in order to be strong enough, mentally and physically, we must CHECK OUT. Our children depend on us to do so. Steps have and are being made but the race is long from over. So take your break now — take a family trip, log off of social media, meditate, write, or whatever it is that allows you to disconnect. Re-up so when you must check back in, you will be ready to attack the next incredible challenge with all that you have.
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I ran out of tears, too. But not the anger. Anger at apathy, mostly. At people critical of positive change. I have to remember that one day we’ll look back on the other side, and hopefully we will have been a part of something great.