OPINION — As kids, we were taught that snowflakes are utterly unique and beautiful creations. Today, being labeled a “snowflake” is not even slightly complimentary.
It speaks to a mindset of victimhood that is so fragile that it cannot encounter the slightest difference of belief without feeling an existential threat. Contrary to popular belief, the domain of the modern snowflake isn’t just the safe-space crowd on college campuses.
It can also include those who cannot countenance others declining to participate in a patriotic ritual at some sporting event.
There must be some way to reclaim our sense of stoicism and personal responsibility. Of course, it will have to begin at the individual level.
A few years ago, while taking a defensive firearms course, I was introduced to the concept of stress inoculation. It’s best understood as incurring authentic stress during one’s training to better prepare for the intense anxiety of an actual life-threatening situation.
In our training scenario, we were required to make our way through a course of reactive targets that tested our marksmanship as well as our thinking skills under pressure. The stress portion started before we ever fired a shot.
Each shooter had to set down his loaded firearms, pick up a pillow and defend himself against four attackers armed with foam-covered bats for two minutes straight. That may not sound like a lot of time, but two minutes is an eternity when you’re being chased, shoved and hit by multiple assailants.
After that, the shooter had to do a wind sprint – 50 yards out and 50 yards back – before picking up his firearms and beginning the course. The resulting physical and mental exhaustion made a steady shot extremely difficult.
As we each made our way through the course, having to make our shots over, under and around obstacles, our instructor would step in and handicap us in some way. He’d put an oven mitt on the shooter’s primary hand, requiring them to use their support hand to fire the gun instead.
Sometimes a patch was placed over one eye to simulate a partial loss of vision. Or we might have our legs taped together or one arm taped to our side to simulate the loss of the use of that limb. The instructor might tell us that our primary weapon was inoperable, and we’d have to transition to a sidearm or pick up and use another weapon placed nearby.
Meanwhile, other participants were shouting at us to further distract us and add to our stress. Nevertheless, the already exhausted shooter was expected to adapt to each of these obstacles and to continue to think and fight to the best of his ability.
At no point did we have the luxury of casting ourselves as victims. The only way to solve the problem before us was to adapt to our misfortune and continue moving forward to the best of our ability.
It was some of the least fun, yet most impactful, training I’ve ever experienced.
The idea here was to acquaint the individual with real pressure in a controlled environment and to show them that they can still make their own choices to deal with it. With practice, a person can learn to manage the stress of their situation almost instinctively.
This is something first responders do on a regular basis so they won’t fall apart at the moment their help is most needed.
All of us came away with the understanding that, no matter what unexpected challenges are encountered, we each have the capacity to overcome them. Developing the necessary individual grit to do this becomes easier the more we practice it.
Perhaps there is some way that we could create a type of simulation where we could replicate the stress inoculation process to where we don’t fall apart upon encountering a differing viewpoint.
It needn’t be as complex as the life or death scenarios in the firearms course described above. All we’d really need are opportunities to be able to encounter viewpoints or ideas that are unlike our own while resisting the need to force the other person to recant.
It could start out as simple as reading something with which we disagree and choosing to move along without comment. We could work our way up from there. With practice, we may get to the point where we can openly converse with others whose worldview differs from our own without getting offended or feeling the need to shout them down.
Eventually, this could lead each of us to the point where others may be more certain of what we’re trying to build than simply what is causing us resentment, disappointment or anger.
This can only happen when our primary goal is to become the ruler of ourselves rather than trying to rule others.
Which would you rather be known for?
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events and liberty viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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