Collective Story: On Community Safety
"This one is different," they'll tell us. "Ah, this one is different," we'll repeat.
"Split-second decisions," they'll tell us. "Yes, split-second decisions," we'll repeat.
"No other choice," they'll tell us. "Of course. No other choice," we'll repeat.
And they are not wrong---because they are correct in the context of the system they have built. And they are not right---just because we have accepted the system.
And for us, the cognitive dissonance is too intense to accept that those who are supposed to protect us would also potentially harm us.
Just as a child must deny the reality of an abusive parent, as a coping strategy, we are attached to the belief that policing systems are solely for our protection and well-being. Or even if we acknowledge the abuse, we reason it away. "Well, Dad doesn't hit ME," the sister says to her brother. "So what did YOU do to deserve it?"
And we become dependent on the system to keep us safe from the people we are taught to fear. People who are often also just trying to survive, albeit sometimes in a way that creates more harm.
What would it mean to consider that this script we have been fed was just that---a script? What if what we've been taught about criminality was also part of that same play? What if we considered that a different storyline and cast of characters can exist?
There are many stories we've been trained to believe (whether the policing system, the medical system or the financial systems). And it can be incredibly destabilizing to the human mind to deconstruct these stories. So most people don't.
But you can.
You can deconstruct these collective stories.
You can deconstruct your individual stories.
And you will find that ultimately, by doing so, you will feel even safer. Because true safety is internal and won't be found through other people or more violence.
Something I've learned from helping people deconstruct stories and create conscious change in their lives is this:
People often want change. But they don't necessarily want to take the actions or release the beliefs needed for that change. Myself included.
Change is hard. But, I promise you, ultimately complacency and complicity is harder.
I offer the above simply for your reflection. What do I, personally, stand for? I stand for a holistic approach to community safety that addresses the root causes that lead people toward harmful behavior. Frankly, that means addressing so many interrelated systems that these are multi-generational changes.