Beware of friendly fire!

Beware of friendly fire!

“I am tired, hurt and discouraged.”

These were the words an emotionally wounded community leader said to me over coffee today. He had given his time and energy to support the community and be an advocate for others, but was unfairly attacked for not being assertive enough. As I listened to the pain of this community leader, I wondered “How many good people have been wounded by ‘friendly fire’?”

The term ‘friendly fire’ is used in military or law-enforcement actions to refer to ‘fire’ delivered by others on their own side of the conflict. With our community of Parklands facing many perplexing issues and dilemmas, I am seeing signs of heated disagreements and conflicts within our community resulting with a number of soldiers’ getting injured emotionally by friendly fire. These emotional scars that a number of our citizens have received from others are worse than the physical trauma and loss of property they got as a result of the earthquakes.

When I look at my own life, I realise that when I am threatened or anxious about something, I go on the defensive. Its a natural human response to threats, both real or perceived. When I feel threatened, my tendency is not flight but fight. The problem is that when I react to the threat, its easy to allow the truth to go out of the window.

I wonder if this is true for people going through a disaster. As their anxiety levels keep increasing because of the loss of control of our lives, we make emotion-driven assumptions regarding the intentions of others. Could this be the reason why we are seeing escalating accusations and the loss of trust within our community at the present moment?

I am learning (and its hard) not to react but to take a deep breath and re-examine the facts before responding. I am learning to not let what people tell me affect me. I am learning to stop take a deep breath and not react impulsively. Most important I am learning to watch my words and to focus on words that build up and not tear down.

I want to be a healing influence in my community. I don’t want to be the cause of hurting people who are on my side. Maybe when we all do our part, we wont end up shooting our own team mates.

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