April 11, 2016
De-Escalation Stops the Beginning
Many of us have heard or even used the platitude, “A good defense is the best offense.” It’s been applied in sports, national security and on playgrounds. During long-running conflicts, it’s difficult to find the starting point of the offense-resentment-defense-retaliation cycle, even with tracing factual histories of real or perceived assaults.In sports and national security, we have rule books and laws in place determining acceptable conduct and behavior; adherence is a model for those seeking a just victory. On the playground, we need adults to step in and keep the conflict within civilized boundaries before it results in a bloody nose.
But what happens when “he started it” becomes the entry point in the offense-resentment-defense-retaliation cycle and there are no adults on the playground?
What happens when the children on the playground ARE the adults?
We can all be overtaken by anger when an insult or slight wounds the child in us, prompting a rise in his defense. We’re compelled to respond with a strike of “Oh yeah? Take That!” providing our own contribution to this race to the bottom.
De-escalation is the beginning of raising the bar and exhibiting behaviors that keep us all reaching for our higher functioning and values. It holds a space and environment for better-ness from ourselves and each other. The road to war is littered with these missed opportunities.
De-escalation transforms the offense into an opening for dialogue and a platform for modeling. The originating circumstances might be beyond our control, but our responses to them are not.