Last update: 01-Aug-2014 12:14 am
Friday, August 01, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Give thanks in all circumstances
Recently, I sat among three older men speaking about aggression in people around them and lamenting T&T’s frequency of homicides. They were offering remarkable insight, which made me wonder whether our leaders ever spend time talking out these matters. One of them gave us a chilling example of unsolicited fury that he’d freshly witnessed, then, with his usual scholarly demeanour, declared, “Our problem is that we do not know how to resolve disputes in simple situations.” That got me thinking that at the rate people are killing each other, we might be a people without remedy for our negative emotions, culturally deficient in dispute resolution. In fact, on the scale of emotional literacy we may well be dunce.
Emotional literacy (www.feel.org) is “the ability to recognise, understand and appropriately express our emotions. Just as verbal literacy is the basic building block for reading and writing, emotional literacy is the basis for perceiving and communicating emotions. Becoming emotionally literate is learning the alphabet, grammar and vocabulary of our emotional lives.” So what makes us such a violent culture, devoid of respect, courtesy, and concern for others? From my experience, when someone offends us we resort to division rather than resolution and if that is microcosmic of our national psyche then it could account for our seemingly unsuppressed rage. Unfortunately, while we may argue it’s the few making us look so bloody boorish, the collective liability is ours when we’re labelled as barbaric, with other civilised nations warning their citizens about visiting here. I tender that, as a nation, too many of us have lost our sense of gratitude about the freedoms we enjoy, and the blessings we’ve received. There is a lack of thankfulness for all we have and according to psychology professor Nathan DeWall, of the UK College of Arts & Sciences, who links gratitude to a non-violent heart, “Grateful people aren’t just kinder people, they are also less aggressive.”