Small Town Trauma

< Buildings And Values                                               Voting And Choosing > 

Joel’s newsletter on Small Town Trauma, October 28, 2009

An ezine about Creative thinking, Coaching, and Making a difference 

Last week an unfortunate event occurred right in Chatham where I live, walking distance from my house. A Catholic priest was murdered in his rectory. Later the police arrested the janitor of the church. In this small town of under 10,000 people, nothing like that has happened for almost 20 years. At first I had disbelief, then shock, sadness, and bewilderment at what happened. But then a few other thoughts came to me.

Why did the man commit that crime? There must have been something that was disturbed inside him. Perhaps some anger, a grudge, desperation, or other pain. Then it was triggered and came out as a destructive action. Are people who commit crimes "bad guys", while the rest of us are "good guys"? I don't think it's that simple. Rather, I look at it this way. All of us have sore spots inside, and some have more than others, no doubt. Sometimes they can come out in violent ways. Most of us are able to control our negative impulses. But some cannot control them or find it difficult. Or maybe the majority of us have never been pushed that far.

The point is that there are "seeds of violence" inside normal people as well as those who do commit a crime. They're really just areas that need healing, and they only become outwardly violent if left to grow unchecked. A murderer and a priest could equally well have had a trauma in childhood, or a major disappointment in life. The potentiality exists in all of us for either constructive or destructive behavior.

We often tend to pay attention to outward manifestations, like violent crimes, since these are more obvious and more dramatic. But I believe that it's even more important to be aware of the disturbed feelings and pain inside, both in ourselves and in others. Then we can defuse and heal them. How can they be healed? With acknowledgement, understanding, concern and love. In this way we begin to heal society as a whole.

Another thought that came to me is that every action has consequences. We don't usually think about all the consequences at the moment committing the act. The slaying of this small town priest ended the life of a well-loved man of the community. It also ended the normal lifestyle of the slayer. But that's just the beginning. What are the effects on the priest's family? On the janitor's family? On the congregation of the church? On the small town where both these men lived and worked? What about the Catholic Church as a whole? What is the full extent of the loss and suffering? If this were a terrorist act, it could cause widespread fear, heightened security and therefore inconvenience to many people.

Both catabolic (destructive) and anabolic (constructive) actions have effects which tend to be of like energy. That is, when you do something constructive, the ripple effect tends to be constructive, and vice versa. If we knew all the consequences of our catabolic actions, we probably wouldn't do them nearly as much. Likewise, if we knew the full extent of anabolic actions, we would probably choose to do those things much more often.

The final thought that came to me is - how safe are we? Are there places that are really safe? What about being in a Church, which is supposed to be a holy place? It doesn't seem so safe anymore after that incident. Having locks and security systems in our homes, ensures our safety, right? I'm not so sure.

What is safety anyway? Safety is protection from harm, which allows us to feel at ease. Can we get that from external protection? Maybe. But I find that a feeling of ease and well-being comes mostly from inside. It's related to having trust and faith. I believe that whatever is truly yours cannot be taken away. I also know that having a presence of self can give one a deeper sense of security.

Yes, it's important to practice reasonable safety measures. But I feel that there are other values which are also important, and we don't want to lose sight of them by being concerned only with safety.

By the way, the Chatham police called each home the next day, informing us that they made an arrest and that our safety was their primary concern. I do appreciate their thoughtfulness!

In summary, I believe it's important to look beneath the surface and see the pain before it erupts. It's also useful to remember that both constructive and destructive actions have consequences, usually far more than we realize. And it's good to ask what safety and security really mean to us. If these questions interest you, then I would love to work with you as a coach, to help you get to know yourself better and to find what's really important to you! Please contact me at or 973-701-1007.

Creative thinking tip

There is always another way to look at tragedy. 
Creative thinking is about finding new ways to view whatever happens, even tragedies. Yes, we need time to grieve and come to grips with loss, but then it is useful to ask what other meanings or opportunities might be found. You can look for different points of view or see what could be done to prevent future loss.

One example that comes to mind is the formation of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) by Candy Lightner. When her daughter was killed by a drunk driver, she became creative and started the well-known organization to change attitudes toward drunk driving. I'm sure that many lives were saved as a result.

By using creative thinking in the face of tragic losses, we may be able to find a greater good in end. Then the tragedy won't have been totally in vain.

Visioning Lab

What's your vision for your most important goal? Having a clear vision can make a significant difference in your success. In Visioning Lab we help you get clear on your vision and make it work for you.

Please go to to find out more or to register. The cost is minimal for what you will get from participating. I look forward to working with you and helping you to make your vision become real!

If you have any questions about Visioning Lab, please contact me,, or 973-701-1007.

Quote of the week

"I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice." - Abraham Lincoln

What this quote means to me is that there is an alternative way of handling wrongdoings and disagreements. I do believe that mercy and understanding of the other party's situation helps to get to the core of the real issue. While administering justice through punishment may bring some satisfaction to the victims and keep criminals in check, it usually doesn't resolve the underlying pain or insecurity that caused the problem in the first place. A more understanding and comprehensive approach can yield greater benefit for all concerned.

< Buildings And Values                                               Voting And Choosing > 

This newsletter is written by Joel Remde, to receive this newsletter via email contact I welcome your comments and feedback; that will help me learn what you’re interested in and also make this a better newsletter.

Learn more about The Creative Thinking Coach at

MORE Perspectives by Coach Joel Remde

7 Habits Of Highly Creative People
Creative Thinking and Life Potentials
Ways To Respond To Problems
Potential and Possibilities
Making A Difference
Finding Greatness
Perfect Alignment
Meanings And Opportunities
A Vision Makes A Difference
Invisible Connections
Creative Individuals
A Tribute To Don Hewitt
Lessons From The River
What Is Creative Thinking?
It's All About Energy
More On Energy
Place Of Power
Visioning Lab
Simple Lessons
Buildings And Values
Small Town Trauma
Voting And Choosing
Veterans And Gratitude
Creative Apps
Thanksgiving, Thankfulness And More
Everyday Heroes
Remembering Jim Rohn - A Great Philosopher
Holiday Rituals
Love One Another
A Look At The Year
Happy New You
Creativity And The Economy 

Jump Home from Small Town Trauma

For more on personal development and self-awareness visit the Article Archive

Also enjoy our series of free videos Self-Awareness 101

Explore the deeper meanings of more Inspirational Quotes

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Your Daily Life Coach.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.