Podcast Episode #34 – Gun Violence: Listening to Understand
Gun Violence, Safety, and Support for Families
We have a serious problem in the United States of America with gun violence. It feels really scary to us and we’ve felt powerless to make it stop.
This podcast series is about gun violence, safety, and support for families, In this first episode, we’re going to be looking at what it takes to really listen to understand, and another way we can look at what’s happening with the boys and men in our culture that I haven’t seen anyone talking about.
Next week, we’ll be taking a closer look at Gun Violence as a Collective Trauma – what it does inside our bodies when this is happening in our country. After that, we’ll be looking at what’s happening for YOU in Finding Your Mama Bear, followed by what’s happening with your kids and what they need in Supporting Your Kids.
Today, we’re talking about listening to understand.
Everyone is shouting.
It’s been happening in our country for a long time, but it has gotten increasingly loud, and true listening is happening less and less.
Maybe it’s the fear. The fear of each other. The fear of not knowing what’s going to happen to us. The need to control something that feels completely out of control. It could be the way that things are being talked about – putting up defenses before the conversation even gets started. Whatever it is, we stop listening and we get nowhere.
Perhaps we need to stop listening to the media, who seem to be adding to the fear, and empowering those who feel strongly about something to shout louder and listen less. And by not listening to the media, I mean turning off your television if you still have it on and finding your own sources. Read both sides, even though it’s hard. Model that for your older kids.
Maybe it’s a byproduct of this age of disconnection when we’re communicating without seeing each other’s faces. As humans, we get so much out of facial expressions, eye contact, and body language, but our virtual world is devoid of these communication cues. And our children are growing up in this environment. What impact does that have on them?
We need to learn to listen to one another.
Today I’m going to talk about the general climate, the roots of violence, and something called ACEs to look at what might be happening with these individuals who are hurting and hurting others so violently.
Parents right now seem to have two main fears specifically related to parenting. One is that their child is going to be a victim of gun violence, especially going to school, church or another public place. The other is that their child could grow up and be that person who is violent.
When we can remember this, it can help to put us on a similar page with most other parents.
When no one feels heard, the shouting to be heard gets louder. We also feel really isolated in so many ways as parents, and we either feel like we just can’t take on one more thing or we feel like we have to do it on our own.
The Old Story and the New Story
Charles Eisenstein, author of The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, talks about the Old Story and the New Story. The old story is a story of separation, disconnection, depersonalization, isolation, of needing to do everything ourselves. The New Story is one of connection and interbeing, that we are interdependent, that we don’t have to make changes by force, but that we can find ways to work together.
In the United States of America, we’ve been immersed in the Old Story. Because you’re listening to this podcast, you are part of the big transition that is happening here of moving to the New Story. You are part of the story between the stories, as Charles calls it. You’re making these changes in your home, little by little. You’re working to apply the ideas of The New Story through parenting consciously with your children and that’s part of a bigger and very important movement.
Violence is a huge part of the Old Story.
Growing up without support for the things that have happened to you, and growing up without enough people who have the time, energy and understanding to see and hear you is significant.
The space we cultivate in our families matters. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but there needs to be space to understand another person’s view point and their story.
Hurting people hurt others.
So what’s happened to these boys and men who have perpetuated the violence?
We need to ask what happened to them instead of blaming. And we need to look at it deeply because it is happening a lot.
People who are hurting want someone else to get how badly they feel. A small child who is frustrating you is probably feeling frustrated.
People who kill a lot of people are showing you how they’re feeling.
What happens to someone to make them feel so bad?
ACEs – Adverse Childhood Experiences
I’d like to share a tool for you to understand a new way of looking at what’s happening with these boys and men. It’s called the ACES study.
Dr. Felitti, MD, discovered the idea of ACEs in his obesity clinic. He had a patient who had followed his protocol to lose weight and had great success. Within a short period of time after completing the treatment, she gained back all the weight. Normally, he wouldn’t ask his patient directly why they had gained the weight, but he did and she answered him. She explained that she was sexually abused as a child and that when she had lost weight, men had been paying attention to her. She didn’t know how to deal with and the flood of memories that was coming up for her, so she gained the weight back as self-protection.
He was surprised that something that happened to her so long ago, when she was not even a teenager, was impacting her today. They began asking all their patients about what had happened to them in their early life and started documenting what they were saying. They eventually got approval to do the ACEs study and looked at prevalence and consequences of early adverse experiences. What they found was a strong correlation between the number of adverse childhood experiences a child had before the age of 18 and physical and emotional problems, including violence.
It’s what happened to you AND it’s also how you make sense of what happened.
There are some great shifts happening with this information. Trauma-informed communities are popping up, doctors are working using the ACEs to understand what’s happening with their patients (like Nadine Burke-Harris, who is on the ACEs main page with her latest book) and CPP or Child-Parent Psychotherapy which helps parents help their children ages 5 and under to make sense of what’s happened to them.
We need good parenting information to help us identify when our child is at risk or other children we know are AND we need good support that actually addresses underlying trauma and ACEs.
Next week, we’re going to be looking at cultural trauma and the emotional and physical impact of cultural gun violence on our bodies and nervous systems.
Resources from this Episode
Charles Eisenstein, author of The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible
Drs. Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda, co-founders of the ACE Study, in “The Hidden Epidemic: The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease.”
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