There is much violence in the world, even right here in such a beautiful place as Grant County.
As lovely and as remote as our rural life is, we are touched by the same violent behavior as in bigger cities.
There are people all around us who are either struggling with disturbing memories of past violence that are still causing them pain, or they are now living a life in which violence takes a toll every day.
Some of them are our neighbors, family members or are people we work with. Their lives and experience affects all of us.
The violence they experienced, and which changed them forever, occurred in many settings: the violent parent unleashing frustration on a child or mate; the driver of a car aggressively confronting another driver and the person unable to maintain intimate relationships who lives a life of emotional isolation.
The stories include a prison guard, trained in a quick response, who violently attacks his small son, sneaking up behind his dad with a surprising hug, and of a young soldier returning from the battlefield, who is expecting a life-threatening explosion any moment, unable to respond emotionally to his family, unable to sleep because of nightmares, and overwhelmed by the intruding thoughts and memories of his military experience.
The stories of those affected by violence include a volunteer firefighter, who cannot cope with the sight of infants: the sight brings memories of the fire when he was not able to save a child and, later, was confronted by a grieving parent. He lives with feelings of guilt, and images of the experience.
It is the story of a Holocaust survivor, who while heating her morning cup of tea in the microwave, follows the countdown of the seconds. At the very last one, when the tea is ready, she is aware of the moment when the execution squad fired their weapons. She dies every morning.
The stories include a young wife, dearly loving her new husband, who cannot make love ... who cannot be touched ... who cannot tolerate the loving contact because of sexual abuse as a child.
Some children witnessed or personally experienced violence in their homes, others were affected by hours of brutality on their favorite TV shows. Some of those children are so numbed to the pain that they do not feel their own, or are not able to relate to other people's pain.
The violence affects all of us differently, and for many reasons, yet there are patterns, so very familiar to all of us, that cannot be ignored.
At the time of 9/11, there millions of viewers glued to TV screens, listening to the continuous reports and watching repetitious pictures of what has happened. The involvement was way beyond just getting information.
The same phenomenon occurs now, with the constant coverage of the war on terror beaming into our homes.
Those who watch such TV "shows" long enough have become more and more numb to the suffering, in order to endure it.
Most of us are not aware how much the constant exposure to violence, in our personal lives or through media, contributes to our stress level, which, in turn, contributes to the further increase of violence.
For some, the response to the violence becomes, "this is the way it is and we might as well become used to it." They are not aware of the price we are all paying for getting used to it.
Other coping skills have their own bad effects. The most common ones are a drug abuse (legal or illegal), and an increase in alcoholism. Both are known for numbing of emotional pain for a while. They also lead to depression, in addition to other debilitating effects.
What can we do? Learn about it - the "monsters that live in the dark." Learn about the stress in your life, where is it coming from and how to manage it.
Practice prayer, meditation, form support groups or talk with friends, family or a counselor about your feelings. Limit your and your children's exposure to violence and talk with them.
Those of us who use all available support have a much greater chance of
living through those trying times with the least number of scars.
Yolanda Rommel lives in Canyon City.