We got to talk about the general lack of interest in the type of training Dave is attempting to introduce to the martial art community as part of their regular training.
I can only remember a few points Dave made, but essentially he said that people today are simply not concerned over the possibility of being attacked and when something unexpected does happen, they are totally unprepared to cope with the situation.
Dave pointed out that people lack a sense of awareness. . . in all those simple, yet important areas that will assist them in avoiding conflict and fights. Instead, people tend to feel they can cope with the unlikely situation that might occur and when actually faced with danger, make all the wrong choices. (We discussed the road rage situation I posted on Van's forum where the "wrong decision" resulted in the death of a person.
Dave and I also discussed the following article and how "being aware" is not the same thing as being "obsessed" with violence and the possibility of being attacked, which may be as complicated problem for some martial artist and non-awareness.
Epidemic of violence: Post-traumatic stress
Sadly, Orlando's and Orange County's surge in violent crime can be compared to a socially contagious epidemic. Both the city and county surpassed their annual homicide records in 2006; and, murder is among the leading causes of death in Orange County. Juvenile crimes are at an all-time high.
In perspective, our community has been through a lot in the past few years. In 2004, we suffered three catastrophic hurricanes after 44 years without any. The storms disrupted families, lives and housing. Catastrophes can have a long-range effect on community mental heath and well-being. Post-traumatic stress, which can take years to resolve, is well documented following catastrophes and can lead to anger, aggression and irrational violence.
Often the violence is random, irrational and without apparent meaning. Some random violence may be related to post-traumatic stress. Several years ago we suffered a wave of domestic violence. Partner violence produces post-traumatic stress for adults and children.
We have had surges of DUI crashes and have led the United States in pedestrian deaths. Hospital statistics show an increase in heroin-overdose deaths and a wave of crystal-methamphetamine abuse here in Central Florida. Cocaine is an ongoing epidemic, and alcohol and drugs are well-known factors in violence. People suffering from post-traumatic stress often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.
Migration patterns can also affect mental health and rates of violence. In the aftermath of the hurricanes, people relocated and others moved to our area to help with recovery efforts. In addition, we are one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States, which makes it difficult to strengthen the ties that bind a community together.
The American Academy of Family Physicians' position paper on violence indicates the environment in which children are raised plays a role. Children who grow up in violent homes are more likely to become victims or perpetrators of violence in adulthood. They look; they learn; and they repeat. At Harvard University, Dr. Michael Rich discovered that MRI scans of children's brains exposed to violence actually change over time in areas of the brain where memories are stored. Exposure to violence changes our brains. Is it any wonder pediatricians are calling for more restraint on children's TV-viewing or music-listening habits?
We need ongoing dialogue in Central Florida, followed by organized efforts to push through task-force recommendations such as those of U.S. Rep. John Mica, Dick Batchelor, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the Juvenile Justice Commission. We can succeed in reducing the incidence of violence with concerted citizen involvement, self-awareness, personal responsibility and community change.
As famous anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Kevin M. Sherin, M.D., MPH, is the director of the Orange County Health Department. He is also the president-elect of the American Association of Public Health Physicians.