Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's Been Four Days, Get Over It Already

We as a culture are hooked on the quick fix.  Not only do we want our food fast, and our cars fast, and our news fast, we want healing and recovery fast as well, and this has become apparent again after Friday's tragedy in Colorado.

On Saturday they were running stories from victims who were saying that they wanted to forgive the accused shooter but they weren't able to.  Really?  It's already been 24 hours, what's taking you so long? (That's sarcasm by the way.)  Why would we ever possibly even believe that something like this could be forgiven over night?  They have not even had time to process their most immediate thoughts let alone everything else that will go along with it, and therefore cannot forgive the attacker. They can certainly start, but it is a process, not an instantaneous event this soon.

I've actually thought that Jesus statement that we need to forgive someone 77 times, or 70x7 times, is the realization that as soon as we think we are there and have forgiven that something else will come up and we have to start again.  In other words it's a process that we have to work through, although the more we work at forgiveness the easier it becomes.

Then another story tells us about the event being "a nightmare they can't shake."  One of the people who fled the theater without injury, who is also dealing with survivor's guilt, said in a story on Monday "I'm still feeling scared, like stuff that I see everywhere reminds me of his figure or the theater and like exit signs." I was once in an auto accident, which does not even compare to what took place in the theater, and I was still have flashbacks six months later.  Of course he, and everyone else, are not over these events.  More than likely they will be having flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety over it for years, if not the rest of their lives.

This is an opportunity for the news to actually do some good.  To do some actual reporting.  To talk about post-traumatic stress disorder, to talk about symptoms and warning signs, to talk about treatment, to tell people they are not alone.  Hey, it might even be a good time to talk about all of our soldiers coming home who are dealing exactly with this issue and are having a hard time readjusting to society and what we can and should be doing about it.

Instead, the media are making ridiculous stories with ridiculous headlines so that we can say, "get over it," and move on in the news cycle.  It is going to take a long time for many of these victims to process their thoughts and feelings on this, and some will never get over it.  As a victim of Columbine recently said in reaching out "it will get better, but it will never go away."

For once, let's be honest that there are no quick fixes for emotional or physical trauma.  Let's talk honestly about what happened and what will happen so we can help them, and victims of other crimes, deal with their emotions and reactions in real ways, rather than being amazed that they are not over it, forcing them to want to get a quick fix or worse to shove the emotions down so they never deal with them.

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