What we can do…
When events like Columbine or Virginia Tech or other killings occur, I hear many people ask “What we can do?” At some level, most of us realize these are not spontaneous events but the release of tremendous amounts of pent-up rage which had to accumulate over a long period of time.
These events mean no-one, not a single relative, neighbor, classmate, faculty, or coworker could simply listen to their rage and say “Yes, that must have really hurt.” They don’t have to cast blame, or take someone to court, or pass a law, just acknowledge to the person who was hurt, Yes, that must have really hurt. That diffuses the rage, right then & there. There is no longer any need to carry it around and let it fester & grow.
I believe that everyone needs to be validated as an Individual, and the way to do that is by personal interactions. Talking about the weather isn’t enough.
Add something personal when you interact with others, which will often encourage them to add something personal. Now 2 more people are validated and are less likely to carry the feeling of being isolated around, for it to fester and fester until it erupts in some truly ugly way.
Here’s a surprisingly simple interaction that happened to me in a grocery store:
Recently I was waiting on the grocery checkout line when the customer behind me put an orange colored birthday cake on the counter. I commented to her “That’s a pretty birthday cake. Orange is one of my favorite colors.”
That was a choice. I could have been very superficial saying nothing at all. Or I could have made a slightly superficial generic remark like “Birthdays are something we all have.” But I chose to make it at least friendly-possible, and then chose to open the possibility of friendship even more by adding something personal.”
She also had many choices. She too could have been superficial with a remark like “Yes, we all have birthdays”; or simply ignored my comment; or even been anti-friendly “Mind your own business”. Yet she chose, to my surprise, to stay specific, on this particular birthday cake, and went far more personal than I could have expected. “I wish I could have bought a larger one, but I’ve been out of work for a year, and it’s all I can afford right now. My daughter also likes orange”.
Being specific & adding something personal are the 2 steps I recommend in my N2N – Neighbor 2 Neighbor efforts. Neither depends on any specific technology.