I woke up angry. Really angry. I want to start a revolution. I want to climb a mountain of longing, build a bridge from unconscious incompetence and walk childhood back to the valley of deep connection. How many people need to pick up a gun and plow down a classroom to bring attention to the overwhelming devolution of childhood? The heroes and victims in these tragedies ripple to unparalleled numbers. What kind of disconnection is happening that the desperation of one gunman goes unnoticed until the first shot rings out? How can we look the other way at the violence that disconnection brings to all of our lives? I refuse to live in a world where there are no solutions. I know there are. We have the science, the great minds, the big hearts and the history to know how to address these things.
I know this, I see the biggest hearts everyday standing in front of large numbers of children with their hands tied and little to no support. I see money poured into “academic mediocrity” which takes away a teachers ability to do what they started out wanting to to: love and connect with children.
Unfortunately with unrealistic demands on most adults in most children's lives, where is the time to truly make connections that can heal and grow compassionate humans? The following excerpt from Psychology Today highlights this:
“First, the Columbine Shooters--Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold--experienced acute and chronic rejection. Rejection, like physical pain, hurts. Is the pain of rejection enough to cause people to behave aggressively? In the years since the Columbine shooting, my colleagues and I have shown that rejection causes people to behave aggressively. Rejected people blast others with loud and prolonged noise, dole out large amounts of hot sauce to people who hate spicy foods, and thwart others' opportunities to obtain desirable jobs. Social rejection causes people to behave aggressively even toward innocent third parties, suggesting that victims of rejection-related violence need not be involved in the rejection experience.” (1)
What is the opposite of rejection? Connection. Connection. Connection. Let me say again: Connection.
“To be kept in solitude is to be kept in pain,” writes the sociobiologist E. O. Wilson, “and put on the road to madness. A person’s membership in his group—his tribe—is a large part of his identity.”
This past weekend I had the pleasure of sitting with a group of forward thinkers; people who know in their hearts it has to be different and are seeking to find what that is. During this time together, the group learned how to make a direct connection with the intensity of the environment when something is threatening. In this case the lesson came from the songbirds responding to a Cooper’s Hawk. The participants felt the intensity before they ever saw the hawk flying after his next meal. This was not a workshop in intuitive magic. It was a workshop about our neurological systems and our innate sensory response to the patterns of the natural world: Our connection with our entire environment. This knowing is our inherited neurology and biological evolutionary wiring that is available to all people. The only magic involved is in remembering the connection processes that wired the brains and bodies we have today.
How did they do this? Listen here:
Our brains are wired to survive. As the human species evolved, the brain added the necessary “sense of connection”. Our neurology discovered, that if we worked together, we had a better chance of surviving; so social connection needs were written into the codes of our DNA. Author Matthew Lieberman, a social psychologist and neuroscientist highlights this in his scientific research, stating:
“Social pain signals that we are all alone—that we are vulnerable—and need to either form new connections or rekindle old ones to protect ourselves against the many threats that are out there”.(2)
He further shows that:
“Whenever it has a free moment, the human brain has an automatic reflex to go social.” (2)
What if, during the many moments in any given day, there is not an opportunity to “go social?” If one is patterned on disconnection, then what incentive do they have to care?
Let's "do" into being the change. You can do something now and be part of the solution today. Although I believe in gun control, focusing on it distracts us from the real issue at hand. Why do they do it? The more provocative question is “Why wouldn’t they?” If they have no connection, what are they left with? What are they patterned on? What is underlying such desperation and resentment?
Here are some ways you can make a difference right now:
Facilitate Connection. Facilitate Connection. Facilitate Connection.
Make eye contact and offer a smile.
Acknowledge a child who looks alone.
Acknowledge someone's hard day.
Ask a question. A connecting question. A kind question.
Offer any kind word you can.
Words and actions that bring us together are of love, those that separate us, even in a small way turn us away from love and connection.
TEACHERS: LET’S START A REVOLUTION!
Let’s have a “We’re not going to teach” day", or a “Connection Only Day”. Start a revolution and JUST SAY NO!. Be a united front and instead of protesting and picketing by NOT going to school, go to school and NOT TEACH for a day. Spend the day focusing on only connecting. Call it the great “Connection Sit In”. Spend the day just dropping in deeply with each child and allowing them to be seen. That is what brought you to the profession in the first place. That is why your dedication continues.