Monday, April 18, 2016

Our new threat: "Increasing Instability"

I'm worried. For a long time I've been concerned that we are seeing more unstable behavior in people's lives, way of thinking, actions or outbursts. We notice it every few weeks when the words "active shooter situation" spreads across the news channels and social media outlets; when another person who is angry; disgruntled; disturbed; lashes out. They are often what we see as "the normal ones", those in positions of security; military officer; leadership roles - and yet as this breakdown occurs more and more frequently it seems that no category or class of individuals is immune.

Why are we such an angry society these days? Did everyone suddenly get denied that promotion, found out their son or daughter is living an alternative (and unapproved) lifestyle, or received the news from a spouse that "it's over, I want a divorce"? Or was this happening all along and it's just now starting to bubble to the surface in larger and more noticeable quantities and occurrences? What if we are starting to break down under stress that's been building for a long time or beginning to crack under the pressure of coping with a shortcoming that perhaps was once manageable and is now turning serious? Some days I feel that we are walking among powder kegs....

I believe that in some cases a meltdown can be triggered by the inability to deal with difficult situations - ones that during certain times might have been able to be addressed. Some of us who struggle with concentration issues, have a tough time focusing on a topic or get easily distracted might have nothing more than a limited attention span or mild learning disability. But compounded, when a job or career is on the line, when relationships are beginning to fracture or during extreme lows in one's life, such minor struggles can take on a new proportion. If someone had issues paying bills or accounting for finances or even going grocery shopping before, those tasks not only get more difficult during extreme stress but sometimes impossible. And once the little things seem out of control and unmanageable it seems far too easy for that frustration to spread into other things. Suddenly the neighbors seem more annoying or too noisy; a coworker behaves a bit oddly and we take it personally and brood over the cause or situation; or a misunderstanding between friends turns into a major rift leaving someone feeling isolated and alone.

There are a hundred things which can trigger what feels like a huge difficulty in relating to the normal world as we knew it. But is that alone enough to account for the times that people snap and act out in violence or are all these situations linked to real mental illness and imbalances that are far more serious? I think what I'm wondering is, how much of what is happening is pre-determined by genetics or chemical make up - and how much could be someone simply becoming overwhelmed. Because when you step back and look at some of the cases, it appears that in many situations, there wasn't a violent history or background of violence. So where is this coming from?

Over the weekend I'd posted this following the shootings of two firefighters in Maryland: "This is our new threat.....every week it seems there is more instability in our world." I'm not sure where we go from here.

Update: the following day, a friend of mine commented on this blog post shared on Facebook.

"Life on Delmarva" • #delmarvausa