A pair of articles on how mindfulness can be used to curb our country's culture of violence – one that pervades police departments and our communities.
Cultivating the ability to choose [a response after a stimulus] is a critical tool in grappling with implicit bias—kneejerk attitudes or actions that can emerge in opposition to the officer’s explicit beliefs. Goerling acknowledges bias is part of policing—as it is with all human encounters, he says—and he believes that self-awareness is the cure for bias. We will never overcome our biases if we aren’t even aware of them, he argues. Mindfulness is one way to cultivate that awareness.
The poorly regulated adult with enhanced reactivity, impulsivity, and a constant state of fight or flight sees in every interaction the potential for being harmed and the necessity to defend himself. The angrier he feels, the less clearly he will think. His reactions will often be out of proportion to the situation, and he will be prone to violence. Because he sees the world as a constant source of danger, he externalizes blame, to his spouse, children, neighbors, government, and “others” in race, nationality, religion, or culture. Angry, blaming, aggressive, and unable to modulate his emotions, he can become a danger to others.
In memory of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, and Brent Thompson.