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Las Vegas tragedy

03 Oct 2017
@ 01:13 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Very sad news from Vegas today, 58 dead, over 500 injured.

I am not going to say that my heart goes out to these people as such statements always comes across as pathetically patronizing. Whether you are a gun owner or not, this situation simply sucks.

The question we always end up asking ourselves is, how do folk end up in a situation where they feel that this is the best course of action for themselves. This is a very difficult question to answer.

I will not pretend to have the answer to this but there a few things I want to say.

Some interesting facts:

When a mother makes smiley faces and cooing noises to her baby, it stimulates the prefrontal cortex. Eye contact is one of the most important aspects of this fundamental brain building process. As she (and dad) continues to do this, it creates a sense of interconnection in the toddler. By simply smiling, saying I love you and with true eye contact, structures are built in the brain that will eventually allow the child to develop into a well functioning individual. Furthermore, the grown adult may show great courage / risk taking as this sense of interconnection extends beyond physical barriers (the concept of life after death is irrelevant, the person simply trusts).

In contrast to this, a baby that is raised by a very busy / stressed / depressed mother who means well, but does not perform these natural brain building steps with baby, will create an adult that lacks a sense of belonging / community / interconnection. The result of this can be the same as a mother actually physically abusing the child. How many millions of children do you think have been raised in this manner. Perhaps you were one of these children, whether ignored or abused by a parent.

Without this mirror neuron development, the brain develops its own survival strategies. In some instances, the personality will withdraw, in other cases, the person 'acts out'. Or, the person may swing from one to the other. Some of these grown adults will seek self development (which may take a lifetime). Others simply stick to their survival strategies.

As suggested, these are now known and measurable facts.

My point is that to build a strong person or a 'good community member', the foundation for this is love. And by love, I mean direct in your face, eye to eye love. We are fooled by the media into thinking that brave men come about as a result of harsh upbringings. The evidence proves the contrary, love makes us strong, it makes us brave, it makes us resilient. This research into the brain shows that we must first learn that we are lovable and to love ourselves. And by lovable, I do not mean lovable based on what we have achieved. The message passed on to the healthy child is that they are lovable simply because they exist. Then between the ages of 2 and 5 they will be taught boundaries- the clear meaning of the word no, without any negative emotional attachments.

It is only after we have filled this cup of self love that we can share our strengths with others.

If we do not at least attempt to deal with our fears on a daily basis and foster self love, then we run the risk of becoming reactionary, of wanting to control, of forming hate (anti) groups, inflicting pain and so on. If we do not foster compassion for ourselves, we may have little of value to share with others.

If we try to fix problems by applying more control, we may simply add to the problem by coming from a place of fear. Remove the guns and you get the bomb (Oklahoma - 168 dead). And so it goes around, the sickness remains the same no matter the form.

In my game, I have to muster a lot of confidence. I make statements online and through my books which opens me up to the public, this very post is a case in point. Most folk appreciate what I do but there are always the occasional hecklers filled with hatred. Isn't it odd how you can have a bunch of people pass on kind comments but then one mean spirited person can launch an attack and that this one comment can really bum us out for several days. Yesterday, I was attacked over a spelling mistake- yes, crime of the century. This sort of thing used to completely devastate me because I put so much effort into being 'good', of being worthy. But instead, it simply highlighted the fact that I needed to be kinder to me, I needed to learn to like me just for existing, without justification. These days, I find it much easier to deal with such comments. And yes, I make many mistakes and will keep making many more mistakes. I fumble over my words but still I treat myself as being worthy and of having something to contribute to the whole.

Quite often, our concept of love and compassion is simply culturally dogmatic bullshit. We are told to love others but at the exclusion of ourselves.

Understand this - It is only when we treat ourselves as having value and of being worthy of love, that we can understand the importance of treating others this way. With this understanding, we can contribute to others in a meaningful manner. It is most certainly not the other way around, even if putting others first appears to be more noble. In reality, such actions are often motivated by fear and we allow ourselves to be treated like door mats until finally we crack.

There are many things we need to learn if we are to evolve further. I place no such expectation on our species, we each have our own struggles and many folk are truly handicapped as children and may never find their way forwards. We can act with compassion towards such people by simply understanding their situations. We can learn to accept what motivates them but hopefully without becoming negatively effected by them. But we cannot ever fully control them. We simply cannot fully control others.

The best we can do is try to take a long view and to lead by example.

In the U.S, the right to bear arms is an affirmation - "I have a right to exist". This is a very positive statement with great intent. Poke a bear with a stick and he will most likely remove your head from your body. His right to exist is built into him, he does not need a constitution for this, humans need legal rights. Explain the same to a North Korean and that person would probably be thinking - 'if only'. He would not dare offer a verbal response for fear of execution.

Democracy versus dictatorship, the very extremes of societal expression. Many would agree that the balance is to be had in the middle. Yet free countries of the west are already heavily regulated. The problem lies in where this regulation begins and ends. At what point does the affirmation 'I have a right to exist' no longer hold true for the American citizen?

I do hope the people of the U.S can find a way forwards in a peaceful manner. Those that wish to further regulate their fellow citizens need to understand that the constitution comes from a positive place of respect for the individual. It is in its own way an affirmation of love. Therefore, I would ask that you take this precious affirmation into consideration as you move forwards. When you challenge the constitution, it reaches very deep into the hearts of many people. If you act with love as your motivation, you will find your way forwards and be able to work together. If you act out of fear, you will simply create more of the same.

My best to you all, Nathan.


03 Oct 2017
@ 04:29 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Las Vegas tragedy
Miss Riley, full of joy and laughter.

03 Oct 2017
@ 09:12 pm (GMT)

Bob Mavin

Re: Las Vegas tragedy
I agree Nathan. Our old fashioned values are gone.
04 Oct 2017
@ 01:06 am (GMT)

Andrew Murray

Re: Las Vegas tragedy
What thoughtful words Nathan, and a lovely picture of Riley too.

Allow me to quote Martin Luther King Jnr: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Here are my two babies, Zoe (7mths) on the left and Emma (2yrs) on the right, I am doing my very best to be the dad they need me to be in order to grow up strong, resilient, independent thinkers, peaceful, patient and loving humans. Thank goodness for their mother!
04 Oct 2017
@ 04:11 am (GMT)

Joshua Mayfield

Re: Las Vegas tragedy
Thank you, Nathan. As an American, I am troubled not only by the tragedies that keep coming but also by how my nation has forgotten how to grieve and how to support one another through mourning. I won't even start relaying examples of people abandoning sympathy in their haste to make a political point... the list is too long and too sad.

I do hope what I am about to say does not cross a line. If you feel it does, Nathan, I will certainly accept that as I respect this space as something you're kind enough to share with all of us but that belongs to you. I offer this as my own personal experience and hope that no part comes out as proselytizing.

Nathan's opening talking points about child development and the prime importance of love and engagement are so powerful and so true. I am one of the fortunate people whose parents, imperfect though they've always been, gave me all I needed and more. They loved me, they engaged with me, they believed in me. And even after all that, and even with the base of inner confidence that Mom and Dad instilled in me, I still get rattled sometimes. An unexpected criticism, the rejection of a gesture intended to be kind, sometimes the strangest negative response from someone gets through the armor and into the flesh a bit. And I have to pay attention to that and deal with it so it doesn't rot a spot in my soul or psyche. As a young Christian I was fascinated by theological complexities. I still am, but in terms of every day life I find the simple truths to be the most powerful as my years add up. And the simple notion that I wish people in my nation who call themselves Christians would grab onto is that what matters most is what God thinks of me and of my neighbor. God thinks I am worth a great deal, according to my Scriptures. And God thinks my neighbor is as well. That should inform everything in my life. And if the community of us who claim Christ in America would be united in this alone, I believe the effect on our country would be both positive and overwhelming.

Not everyone, of course, is a Christian. And I want to say that all of you who have acquired a love for yourself and your neighbor apart from Christianity have my respect - I'm not sure I would have much compassion for anyone if not for my faith. But I recognize that many people who are not of my faith are very compassionate and kind people. And some who do claim my faith are not kind or compassionate, but I suppose that's an altogether different discussion.

I am the head of prison chaplaincy in my state. I interact with men every day who have committed heinous acts. Each act had an origin. All too often, as I dialogue with these men who've carried out these acts, it becomes clear that whether an addiction factored into the history or not, the origin was a lack of love or an act of hate that they endured. I often think of a young man who I worked intensely with for some months in 2013 and 2014. His incarceration stemmed from drug use. He was 22 years old and had two small sons at home. His sentence was relatively short. We had him in a parenting class. As the class progressed his angry outbursts outside the class increased. One day I got him talking about where his temper was coming from. I learned that his father, who he loved and admired, had "parented" him and his brother by getting home from work, sitting down in the front yard with some beers and having his two sons fight one another until one of them was knocked unconscious. That was his philosophy of how to make men. And this young inmate, in the parenting class, was learning that his father had really instilled more issues than manhood in him. That's where his increased temper was coming from. Like I said, I think of him frequently, and he often comes to mind when I hear about these "random acts of violence" and how people who knew the perpetrator are shocked.

Please don't misunderstand - I do not believe the individual's history absolves him. But I am absolutely convinced that a society that protects and nourishes children and that offers help to the mentally ill and addicted will both see a decrease in violent acts and will be better able to grieve healthily when tragedy does occur. Today I find myself grieving the horrific events of recent days, but I am equally heartbroken over my people's inability to support one another through the aftermath. I cannot change the world in the way I'd like. I cannot change my country in the ways I wish. But thank you, Nathan and Andrew, for the reminder that I have a sacred and eternally meaningful role in nurturing and guiding Noah, Elin, Jude, and baby number four who should arrive in 2018.
04 Oct 2017
@ 08:17 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Las Vegas tragedy
Nice posts guys.

Josh- yes I get it. It does not absolve but we can learn to understand.

Andrew- that is a lovely photo, thanks for sharing.
04 Oct 2017
@ 12:30 pm (GMT)

Lane Salvato

Re: Las Vegas tragedy
Thanks for your kind words Nathan.
05 Oct 2017
@ 06:11 am (GMT)

Peter Bjerregaard

Re: Las Vegas tragedy

Sad news, true. Seeing this from the fairy tale country of Hans Christian Andersen it’s hard to comprehend. But ‘all’s not well in the state of Denmark’ as Shakespeare put it. We have soldiers in the streets for the first time since Labour union fights in 1880.
Here it’s mainly the European Islamic terrorism, we fear. The misguided individuals who have gotten their religion all wrong from the hate preaching clerics of select mosques. Do they have guns? Do we? No, but who needs a gun to drive a truck into a mass of people?

I would really like to get one of these youths - and do what? See, I have the great pleasure of being a scout leader. I see this as an honor. Being able to lead youths towards what? Towards better lives, hopefully. The aim of the scouting movement is helping youths to grow up to being harmonic and resilient individuals and good citizens.
Yes, parents listen up, we do some of upbringing you might have neglected. We get the broken child from a dysfunctional family, ‘allergic’ to adults, to teachers, to police officers. For the first time they meet adults who don’t need to be there, but wants to. Adults they can walk out on.
And they do, but most come back. And that’s the moment, I live for, the moment they realize I spend my free time to be with them. That an adult likes them.

The scouting movement I’m part of is areligious but like our society in general based on Christian values. That’s one of my major problems getting the angry youths from the Muslim society. Some Mosques do great work but most of these youths don’t have religion in a true sense. They just use it as an excuse to call all other racists. So someone has to pick them up before it’s too late. Not because of terrorism, but because of all the ‘usual’ stuff - unemployment, violence, child abuse, imprisonment, you name it.

Still, I’m sure love will prevail. Here are three good kids, all scouts. And mine…



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