When Violence Begets Further Violence
Nurses across the country have watched in shock and consternation as the amount of violence and brutality escalates in cities and communities. Hardly a day has gone by without an additional, heartbreaking tragedy being broadcast over every category of media.
We've passed beyond shock. Our heads are bent and bowed with worry. Some of us have lived through times similar to these before-the devastation of 9-11, the years following the Manson murders, as well as horrific campus riots in the past. We know that venting so much anger and frustration is not the answer for building lasting cohesion.
We've seen it previously in the workplace; the divisiveness of "us against them." We didn't use hashtags, but we knew how to break down teams and divide the feeling of community. We played "new" nurse against "experienced" nurse, day shift against night shift, full-time against part-time, and we got the negativity and blaming initiated. We've done this for years. It never made any of us feel proud, or safe, or happy to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It felt demeaning and sad. Joyless.
After the IOM got involved, we went further and started making nurses feel "inferior" if they lacked degrees, even if they were phenomenal bedside providers. Oh, we knew all about divisiveness and lack of teamwork!
Now, nurses look at the world around us and see the similarities. We see that the divisiveness, the breaking down of people into "us" and "them" via hashtags has led to a world where violence begets further violence. It shouldn't be this way. It MUST not be this way. We can't break ourselves down into individual parts. We are ALL Americans, and as such, we are part of something that is so much bigger than individual families or groups. Freedom is something to be proud of, as nurses have learned when they stand together as a force with their collective numbers.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best:
"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that."
Nurses have learned we must embrace our differences and stand as one for the better good. We are part of a profession that wants to stand proud, united, and humbled, no matter our backgrounds. We ask those who would continue to beget further violence to stand down. It's the only way.