July 8th, 2008
04:18 PM ET

How to stop the violence: Feel the pain

Jerry White
Survivor Corps, Cofounder

The morning papers and nightly news are filled with reminders the world can be an unpredictably dangerous place. Earthquakes in China, cyclones in Myanmar, tornados in the heartland, war in the Middle East and gang violence in our cities. There are fundamentally three types of threats to human survival and security: disasters, disease or violence. The third is the most disturbing—deliberate victimization and cruelty.

We are at war, and the number of people engaged in violence is growing daily. At the moment, there are 39 armed conflicts raging, and more than 80 percent of those injured and killed are civilians, not soldiers. To stop this man-made epidemic, we must work together. No one survives alone.

I've wrestled with the issues of how to overcome crisis and suffering throughout my life. When I was 20, I stepped on a landmine while hiking in northern Israel. I lost my leg, and spent months recovering in an Israeli hospital, learning firsthand what it takes to overcome. I wrote about what I have learned about survivorship and resilience in I Will Not Be Broken: 5 Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis.

There are five basic steps a person must undergo in order to complete the cycle of recovery from trauma. First, we must face facts: this awful thing has happened and we can't turn back the clock. Second, we must choose life. It is still worth living, but we must actively choose and hope for a better future. Third, we must reach out – isolation will kill us; we need each other. Fourth, we must get moving – no one else can do our physical or emotional rehab for us. Finally, we must give back. Turning around to help those who are struggling alongside us will boost our serotonin levels and complete the cycle of our own healing. Givers, not takers, end up thriving.

It’s hard to read the papers and watch the news at times… tempting to turn the channel. But empathy is key to our personal and global survival. Only by recognizing the pain in ourselves do we begin to see others in pain as our brothers and sisters. As we work through our own pain, we find it satisfying, and even healing, to reach out and help others, replacing the cycle of violence and suffering with one of growth and peace.

–Jerry White, cofounder of Survivor Corps - a worldwide network of people helping each other overcome the effects of war and violence—and author of I Will Not Be Broken: Five Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis. All net proceeds from sales of I Will Not Be Broken benefit Survivor Corps programs to help survivors recover worldwide.

Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Thank you for the name of your book and for a wonderfully written post. I have a chronic illness that has sidelined me and I recognize that the steps you mention are the same for those who are chronically ill. Acceptance and reaching out can be difficult but isolation is worse.

    Annie Kate

    July 8, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  2. Victor in Saanich, B.C. Canada

    Jerry: – "We are at war".
    If that be the case, then as the old dirge goes – " pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and everyone goes!!".
    The minority fighting the battle [ and forgotten mostly!!] should not have to bear the load!!
    The battles should be taken no matter where they lead or end up!! Vietnam proved that you don't tie a military to a specific region or country and you use all the ordinance no matter what the collateral cost!!! Otherwise leave!!

    July 8, 2008 at 9:14 pm |
  3. Joyce Spies- Wilmington, Ohio

    God bless you Jerry for helping others. There are angels among us and you are one of them!

    July 8, 2008 at 9:11 pm |
  4. Sherril Johnson

    This is a good book for people with chronic illness, also. I put it on my reading list.

    July 8, 2008 at 7:51 pm |
  5. EJ (USA)

    Jerry, I was just about to ask you 'Did you know Princess Diana?' when I read this on your site.

    Jerry arranged for, and escorted, Diana, Princess of Wales, on her last humanitarian mission, to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and then spearheaded efforts to promote a mine-free Middle East with King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan.

    I think your book will make a nice Christmas, holiday, or birthday gift for several people this year.

    Very inspirational. I'm so glad I read this blog post today!

    July 8, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  6. EJ (USA)

    Nicely written. Very beautiful. Good luck to you Jerry.

    July 8, 2008 at 7:26 pm |
  7. Bill

    I have to say that this is an amazing post and an fantastic book for a worthy cause.

    July 8, 2008 at 6:23 pm |
  8. Lilibeth

    Thank you for the beautiful post. It is inspiring to hear how you channeled your experiences into a lifetime of caring and giving. I couldn’t have said it any better.

    Also, there are people who are fortunate to not have had to go through intense trauma that Jerry described. The world longs for your empathy as well and is very much in need of your help in any form, whether it’s time, talent, or treasure. The world needs you now more than ever.

    Edmonds, Washington

    July 8, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  9. Cindy

    We are definitely at war within our communities, our nation, the world and most of all within ourselves! It seems that most people are in it for themselves and could care less to help anyone else. We have become the "it's all about me" generation. And if the problems don't have anything to do with you then it doesn't matter, it is over looked.

    We have to get out of that state and get back into reality. Too many atrocities are going on today that should be stopped. But because we only care about ourselves we don't put enough pressure on others to stop the stealing, killing or wars. So we let it all rage on, unstopped around us.

    When will we ever learn that you have to stand up and be heard to make a difference in this world and that the world doesn't just revolve around you? It's not up to a chosen few to change things. It is up to us all. So we all need to roll up our sleeves and get busy.


    July 8, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  10. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    Very nicely written.

    It is a very sad statement that violence is a man-made disaster. If society could just evolve and relate to one another in a civilized manner, maybe we could put violence on the list of obsolete things.

    Refuah Shelemah – Complete healing

    July 8, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  11. Diane N.

    All I can say is thank you for this, the book name and site.

    July 8, 2008 at 4:45 pm |