Las Vegas – When There Was No Time To Consider
1st responders, Heros, Loved Ones, Performers, Security, Music Lovers of all races, genders, ages, and yes, political persuasions – all were robbed of any opportunity to deliberate; to plan; to act out of choice. They were robbed of any chance to consider what might be best for themselves, those close to them, or any of the 22,000 music goers with them on that beautiful evening in the grass together.
They could simply react. Or paralyzed by fear and shock, do nothing. Or fall dead or injured.1
From the first cracks of rifle shots echoing off of the buildings around them, could anyone actually distinguish them from the whacks of the band’s snare drum coming from concert-sized walls of speakers? Or maybe they were just pyrotechnics? One wouldn’t even consider the sound to be someone shooting-to-kill the friend next to you, much less an all-out attack on the entire audience.
But yet, there were many individuals who, by Grace and election, possessed the wherewithal to move – to get to their feet and move in the direction of victims and away from possible safety.
So many stories of non-discriminatory acts of kindness, service – of selfless sacrifice!
How could these champions simply throw themselves over another person to become their human shield? We can never know until we’ve done it, I suppose.
Those that have performed this miracle for someone are welcome and appreciated to comment on this, if they’re comfortable in doing so …
What’s emerged from this heart-rendering event in Las Vegas is the direly needed relief of a portrait of many spontaneous acts of heroism. We thank God for those who either just had a clear head to react or who had been trained for this sort of thing. But who can ever be ready for this level of sudden carnage except the most seasoned of combat veterans?
Studies have been done to try and explain this seemingly spontaneous reaction to crisis.
According to a Yale study of Carnegie Hero Medal Recipients (CHMR), the recipients explained that when they acted to help, “…the cognitive processes they describe are overwhelming(ly) intuitive, automatic and fast.”
The researchers stated that the study suggests that extreme altruism may be a result of “internalizing (and subsequently overgeneralizing) successful behavioral strategies from lower-stakes settings where cooperation is typically advantageous: helping others is usually in one’s long-term self-interest in the context of most daily-life interactions with friends, family members and co-workers. This leads to the development of helping as an automatic default, which then sometimes gets applied in atypical settings where helping is extreme costly, such as the CHMR scenarios.” (author’s emphasis in bold)
In my own interpretation of this, it is the building up of the reactionary muscles that come from both prior similar experience and the consideration of possible scenarios of this sort.
I remember an incident a number of years back where I found myself running down the middle of the street toward a personal tragedy thinking over and over, “This can’t be real! This isn’t really real!” When we had received the emergency phone call for help from a family member down the street, I took off out the door running with virtually no consideration other than just to get going because help was needed.
“…empathy is what you feel only when you can step outside of yourself and enter the internal world of the other person.” – Douglas LaBier, Ph.D.
“Sometimes, a person’s sudden awakening of interconnection (to others) jump-starts their empathy. At such times, people automatically respond from the heart.” “When empathy is aroused, you let go of your usual attachment to yourself and you want to help; connect in some way.
“… research also shows that your brain is capable of being trained and physically modified through conscious practices. This is known as neuroplasticity. You can “grow” specific emotions and create new brain patterns that reinforce them.
“… What’s more, changing your brain activity reinforces the changes you’re making in your thoughts and emotions. The result is a self-reinforcing loop between your conscious attitudes, your behavior and your brain activity.
“This may sound like science fiction, yet such studies show that you can learn to “reprogram” your brain. In effect, what you think and feel is what you become. And it means you can learn to grow empathy.“
So, while thankfully, there are among us individuals who have an innate response to an emergency, it’s clear that the rest of us can gain at least a modicum of automatic response for when and if the time comes.
That said, there cannot even be a hint of shame or accusation of cowardice for those who simply responded by trying to get themselves and others close to them to safety. Because that’s what the shooter set out to orchestrate. He certainly accomplished this despicable goal – to remove any chance of defensive reaction.
I am called to also consider it a noble act to save oneself for the others who may depend on you for their lives, outside of the immediate situation. Bottom line: there should be no judgement on these types of difficult choices.
And sometimes, all we can do is simply hold on to each other. This might be our only shield of humanity against such an inhumane assault.
It brings tears to my eyes just reading through the accounts of that Sunday night – especially of the loved ones who lost their lives saving others, as well as those whose loved ones were taken from them through sickening violence.
There’s an army rising up, though.
With the relatively recent tragedies of the Twin Towers attack and even back to the Oklahoma City bombing, there are among us more and more individuals who have been awoken to the idea of preparedness for these terrible times.
No, I’m not talking about a fortified shack in the woods.
I’m thinking of how, through increased media-communicated exposure to these heroes, there are men, women, and youth who have chosen to rise up against our natural responses to either fight or flight. It’s the same with natural disasters, Katrina, earthquakes, etc.
People all over the world are considering, maybe for the first time, of stepping outside of themselves to assist others. Yes, we see in the news many instances of onlookers… well, being onlookers… during an emergency or violent attack instead of coming to the aid of a victim. But I believe we are witnessing an insurgence against apathy and inaction in crisis. I believe that along with the increased self-centeredness of our digital distraction there is a corresponding rise in “otherness”. Grace, mercy, and sacrifice are finding a home in our hearts and minds.
It’s not as dour an outlook as we might be led to believe. Most importantly, there are increasing outlets of support and encouragement for acts of kindness; opportunities to serve others; and an upsurge in faith-based experience that truly uplifts and informs in service to the poor and broken and afflicted.
All of this encourages us to step out of our personal agendas and comfort zones to experience the undeniable satisfaction of serving and sacrifice to others in some way.
I believe that it is not only possible for everyone to perform Conscious Acts of Consideration, but that through the Mechanics of Consideration, mindfulness can be learned and made spontaneous.
Through this blog and upcoming book, I will outline the Mechanics of Consideration and how it builds our kindness, perception, cognitive, creative, empathetic, and innovative muscles.
Here at TenSecondsToConsider, my goal is to help us, in some small way, to become considerate heroes in our daily lives.
In the meantime, may God bring peace and mercy to those inflicted with wounds that will be with them for a long time and through Grace, may they find their way to a better life through this horrific tragedy.
1. It’s with a heavy heart that I have this subject to write about so early into my blog life. Just to plumb my own thoughts and reactions to this horror, I am listening to as inspirational and uplifting music as I can find. My personal favorite is contemporary Christian worship and praise music. What do you listen to that lifts your spirit?
This is what Consideration is all about – momentarily interrupting your routine flow of activity to really look at a situation or person as they really are. To experience that person; to cultivate empathy; to grow in understanding of your world and your place in it and to improve it. As the Special Forces would call it, becoming mindful or having Situational Awareness of your environment at any given moment not only protects you, it can enrich your life and others’ lives in ways you may not have believed.
That’s what this blog and these articles and posts are about – the premise that most Conscious Acts of Consideration take Ten Seconds or Less to instigate and/or carry out.
For now I leave it to you: How have you experienced Conscious Acts of Consideration? Have you stopped to consider something ending in a positive result? Please share those stories with me!
I also would appreciate to no end your considerate liking, following, and sharing of my Ten2Consider Facebook, Blog, and Twitter feeds.