Are we really this crazy?! All sorts of violence are being reported with substantial amounts occurring at home and amongst familiar folk. Our recovery from one gory headline is callously interrupted by others – the ridiculous, the insane and the downright devilish. The attackers have ranged from obvious time-bombs to seeming angels and the traditional strangers lurking in the dark, inspired or reportedly driven by internal battles, frustrations, abuse, financial crisis, religious obligations, the globally acclaimed venomous lips of Eve’s daughters, action-movie antics, anything and everything including the devil himself (who is said to have denied any involvement in some of these incidences). Home where we seek solace from the troubles and travails of the world out there has unfortunately served as a fatal trap for many, so has school and the work place.
I won’t try to answer any of the questions that cross your mind when these reports hit you or when you’ve somehow found yourself on a front row seat in such unfortunate happenings. Frankly many of those questions may not be answered in this life; clearly though, there are many for which we can hold neither Obama, Cameron, Mugabe, climate change nor the bankers responsible. I will however emphasize that you owe yourself a duty of care. The police cannot be everywhere at every time and in some places they are nonexistent (wink). Preventive and protective measures would do us good and emotional intelligence is a good place to start.
A bit of emotional intelligence would go a long way and it all starts with paying attention to the people you encounter. You’ve heard it several times – communication is way beyond verbal. Oftentimes there are obvious telltale signs we seem to miss or ignore (in the name of love maybe), and a little bit of sensitivity would make it easier to spot changes in behaviour, countenance, or things unusual, strange and awkward. This I guess is how women of old spotted pregnancies even before the bearer (those women were way ahead of pregnancy test kits); they also often spotted the ‘baddest’ eggs amongst us with relative ease. Some called them witches. Well I am not suggesting that you become a crime-detective or psychologist overnight but a certain level of awareness with regards to your environment and the people around you is useful for unearthing possibilities and risks, and for developing your responses or reactions. The truth is that people rarely go crazy suddenly (save for those strategic ‘remote-control’ situations).
Understand that not everyone despite how good looking or composed they appear is emotionally/mentally stable or civil, and that rational behaviour is not quite as common as economists present it (maybe that’s why we have that ‘all things being equal’ clause; with that clause they are exonerated if anything goes wrong. Honestly economists and lawyers are not too distant cousins). Be wary of rising tempers and swinging moods, and when you suspect a foul-mood thread cautiously; not everyone is open to dialogue and attempting to dialogue with some people when they are angry or deeply upset might actually escalate their anger. When some people are angry or upset, they regress into destructive tantrum mode – pick, throw and smash in any direction. You do not want to be anywhere near them. I have been in a work session where a manager in a split moment firmly gripped and lifted a bottle (thankfully, he also dropped it instantly). Luckily, my colleague who had made the comments he did not favour was across the table. Had she been right beside him or closer to his reach, something uncomely would have happened to her that day. Countering anger with anger, or aggression with aggression is unlikely to yield positive results hence you may want to step away for a while and let them calm down. The tone of your voice can actually communicate aggression so watch that too. A gentle answer can turn away wrath.
Some of us have been taught from childhood to aggressively stand up to confrontation of any sort, to win a shouting match at all costs, to assert ourselves by taunting with hurtful words in heated verbal exchanges, and to readily step up to a fight. Hmmm. While you may indeed win some, I must mention that such capabilities can actually get one killed these days. Some women have taunted others well-enough to earn a transformational beating whilst some men have lost their lives or vital organs, or found themselves with the burden of a manslaughter charge from fights that could have been avoided. Discretion is critical if you want to stay alive. Remember, the person you are dealing with may be unstable and irrational; unlike you, they may have nothing at stake. They can cause you harm, claim insanity and of course go free with the help of a good lawyer. Don’t underestimate a person’s physical ability; they don’t need much strength to do damage. The most unlikely objects can become assault weapons including pencils. Don’t attempt to restrain a person if you are not skilled or authorized to do so, save for that being your only survival option. And please if you need to run, run! Do find a way to break it down to your children.
I sure hope I’m not being over-sensitive. On a lighter note, I have sensitive skin and still carry some of the badges I earned from childhood horse-play and adventure. So you can imagine that I am content with that which I have and need no more. Not to mention the fact that emotional scars emerging from violence and such incidences by far outweigh the bodily ones. I want to live life to the fullest and fulfil the glorious destiny God has set for me. I am sure you do too. So alongside all that fasting and praying, let’s be sensitive and pay attention.
Writer: Adebola MacGregor