In his “vision of a compassionate future,” the Dalai Lama stated that “many people today agree that we need to reduce violence in our society. If we are truly serious about this, we must deal with the roots of violence, particularly those that exist within each of us. We need to embrace ‘inner disarmament,’ reducing our own emotions of suspicion, hatred, and hostility toward our brothers and sisters.” But how do we do that? The most powerful way I have seen this happen over and over again has been through the healing of trauma. The effects of trauma are now well-known. While it is true that for some traumatized people a pattern of underaroused behaviors can surface, such as depression or apathy, for many others, even if they are in an underaroused state some or most of the time, uncontrollable anger, even violent rages can occur. Violence begets violence. Seventy-five per cent of all school shooters were the victims of bullying, for example. Had we noticed that bullying was taking place, had we not minimized it but taken it seriously, had we intervened early and healed its effects, lives could have been saved. Each of us can begin to reduce violence in the world by starting with the healing of our own trauma, thereby reducing our own tendencies to act with suspicion, hatred, or hostility with strangers or the people we love the most.
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