Dr. Lisa Finlay
Director of International Services, Headington Institute, 2016.
It seems that we are grieving violence around the world at an increasing pace and frequency these days. In the wake of the sniper attack on police officers in Dallas, Texas last Thursday night, I have the feeling of being “at a loss”—at a loss for words, at a loss for understanding, and sometimes even at a loss for how to respond. Alongside feelings of grief and anger, I have an increasing feeling of dread. The dread is about the contagious nature of violence itself, about the fact that too often what distracts us from one tragedy is the next tragedy, and about the ways that violence polarizes groups of people. I don’t think I am alone in this.
As a psychologist, the judgment of my own grief and anger is that these responses are natural and it’s important to acknowledge these feelings. But the dread is worrisome—it may be an understandable reaction, but it can also be a paralyzing one. I don’t want to simply acknowledge that feeling, I want to do something with it. One of the things I do to mitigate dread is to connect. I connect with others in grief. (For all the criticism of social media being a shallow way to socialize, there are some profound things that are shared, too—poems, songs, quotes, videos. These help me process the impact of these events.) And I connect with individuals and communities that promote compassion, understanding, and civic engagement in response to violence.
We hope that you are able to connect with people and resources that can keep you grounded in troubled times.