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Perspective: Responding to a traumatized world

Dan Kenney

We live in traumatizing times. The current war on Ukraine and the over 3 million refugees fleeing for their lives, over half of them children, shines a bright light on trauma.

Trauma is what happens inside a person as a result of what happens to them. Trauma is a disconnection from ourselves because it is too painful to be ourselves. You can see it in the blank stares of small Ukrainian children watching from dark windows. This just as the world is beginning to have some sense of breathing room after being in the grips of a pandemic for two years.

Over 10 million deaths worldwide, 1 million here in the U.S., children who have lost siblings or parents, grandparents, to the invisible killer. Add to this, those fleeing from violence south of the border or those displaced from natural disasters or those who have been affected by shootings. No wonder during the past two years depression and anxiety in youth has doubled. 26% of children in America will witness or experience a traumatic event before they turn four.

We need to recognize and honor the trauma people have experienced or are experiencing. We need to start seeing each other for what happened to us instead of what's wrong with us. Just by changing the question, we begin to become more empathetic. Healing takes place within community. We need to heal one another.

I'm Dan Kenney, and that's the way I see it.

Dan Kenney is a retired elementary school teacher and the founder of DeKalb County Community Gardens. He's also a published poet and writer.