Monday, March 11, 2013

Collectors of Pain - The Future We Build w/ Self Respect

I love talking to gentle people who hold disparate ideas from myself.  When I can engage in a conversation in a gentle way, I can spot false assumptions more easily, and have the freedom to explore their source and ramifications in an environment which is respectful and non-confrontational.

This morning a conversation turned towards fire/rescue personnel.  My discussion partner said something which sparked a flame in my mind.  When talking about rescue personnel it was said, "They give so much (in their work.)"

My mind started churning immediately; I have special knowledge of emergency personnel.  Back at Carnegie Mellon University, I was a volunteer First Responder who was on call 24 hours a day for days at a time.  I knew all too well the life of an emergency responder.  The highs and lows were unforgettable.  Hours and hours of nothing happening followed by an intense hour or so of activity assisting those in very painful situations both physically and emotionally.  It was exhausting.

I extrapolated my experience to empathize with those that do that work professionally.  Long durations of little to do followed by bursts of hectic activity.  I thought of the hours of dead time with its constant struggle to stay mentally awake, followed by an instant demand to be fully on task with vital attention.

"They give so much..."  They do indeed.  But they also take.  They sit in wait, tensely anticipating someone in pain, then rushing to respond.  The rush to the scene of a bloody situation full of emotional torment and quickly try to help others by relieving the pain.  But  this is not without personal effect.  In reliving others pain, the inevitably choose to expose themselves to that pain.  Their entire choice of profession is waiting around for pain and then swoop in to participate in and then hopefully alleviate that pain.

I thought of gamblers and drinkers, riding the lows and elating in the highs.  I though about what a traumatic life that would be.  I imagine what a traumatic place these men and women have come from that they wish to live that life every day.  What would it mean to want to run towards painful traumatic situations every day?  It is one thing to want to be sure those in need are helped, but it is another thing to want to put yourself personally in the path of pain.

I posed an intriguing question to myself, "what if there was almost no one who wanted to subject themselves to those highs and lows?"  What if large numbers of people wanted to be sure those in need had assistance, but also wanted to keep trauma away from their lives?

Would more people become first responders?  My training was only 60 hours, yet I could respond to 95% of the situations which arose.  What if no one wanted that job personally?  The need would still be there.  What amazing innovations would be invented if no one wanted to run towards pain?  What emergency kits would be developed in the age of instant information, and micro electronics   Swarms of tiny robots who could treat burns, set bones, stop bleeding?  Head mounted communication systems for first responders so a trained expert could guide them in what needed to be done in that moment?

There is an analog to this which is stark and powerful.  For 100 years individuals were happy to own slaves in this country.  Pain and trauma was accepted as the way to most effectively pick cotton.  As pain and trauma started to be come less and less acceptable, supporters of slavery said, "but without slaves, who will pick the cotton?"  Well the pain and trauma did become unacceptable, and almost instantly an amazing thing happened.  With no willing participants in the pain, the need for a solution to the problem of cotton picking was suddenly urgent.  And the profit to whoever could solve the problem would be enormous.

With large rewards, comes large impetus for innovation and within a generation machines to pick cotton automatically were developed.  Looking back, it seems obvious that giant machines running on juice refined from plants crushed millions of years ago is a great answer, but it took people standing up against trauma to bring it to light.
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I am inspired by the possible, and inevitable future.  As more and more people become enlightened and healed from our past traumas, less and less of us will seek out to repeat our traumatic past in the present.  As more and more of us demand self-respect, consistency, and fulfilling lives, more and more painful and mundane job functions will be replaced by such fantastical, yet obvious solutions.

I choose to help push us towards this future, by echoing across my connections the virtues, freedom, and happiness of self-empathy, self-respect, and self-confidence.

I do hope you will join me...

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