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    The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine  
    December 18, 2003    PAGE 8       > About LCL Magazine      > Cover Page      > Inside Cover      Feature Pages:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12    

Featured Articles
 Photographs: Proof of Life?
 The Perfect Gift
 A Homemade Christmas
 Jo Cordi's  Lifestyle Series
 Snapshot: Ruby Tuesday
 Baking Up Holiday Sweets
 Wrench That Stole Christmas
 But For The Grace of God
 Travel: Memories of Madrid
 Party Food!
 Cooking with Jarret Hughes
 Holiday Treats or Traps?



Sugarfree TWIST

         But For the Grace of God by Aaron Gillum

Aaron Gillum's views of society, tempered with a quick wit and an acerbic writing style, make his columns both fun, and unique. With each issue, Aaron offers a fresh perspective into the catalysts that drive society; weaving these observations into refreshing, provocative pieces.

                            "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."
                                                                      Henri L. Bergson

Somewhere in Columbus, Ohio sits a person responsible for at least fifteen shootings along I-270, our outer-belt highway. One person has died, and fourteen others have been shot at while driving. The story has begun to creep into the national news.

What's really caught my attention is the sheer panic that's gripped the area since the shootings began. I'm not speaking of panic caused by fear of what this person may do next — that could be understood. I'm speaking about the hysteria that gets passed along with every newscaster who demonizes the shooter… every man-on-the-street who makes him out to be huge, ugly, and larger-than-life.

At first, I thought this was a case of the media blowing something out of proportion to inflate their own ratings… But as I watched the coverage and all the interviews of citizens in the area, another theory struck me as much more likely. We — as self-proclaimed normal, healthy, mentally stable people — cannot cope with the realization that the shooter could be one of us. We are desperate to turn him into something else... anything but a human being like ourselves.

He's called a madman and a lunatic. Entire news segments are devoted to showcasing him as a sociopath, without regard to any factual updates of the case itself. Reporters pull out a parade of citizens terrified to drive through the area every day. One would think a person willing to spend twenty minutes telling a camera how threatened they feel could find an extra ten minutes in the morning to drive around the "danger zone" on their way to work.

Instead, most people act as if there is no tangible threat at all. Given the opportunity to speak, however, they turn the shooter into a monster with fangs and scales. A hideous creature so despicable it can't in any way resemble us "good" people. It seems we are far more afraid of our similarities to these "evil" ones than we are of the threat they pose to our safety.

I contend that we are more like these people than we'd initially believe, with just one tiny thing separating us from them: our ability to tolerate the stress and triggers that push us to the breaking point.

That's it. One small moment — a fraction of a second where your brain either copes or shatters. I'm sure we can all agree that at one time or another, we've been pressed a bit closer to our own threshold than comfort would allow. The death of a loved one, betrayal of a partner, life-threatening situations… they all can overwhelm our logic. Time stands still. Our head swims. We feel like a passenger inside our own mind as the more animalistic programming drowns out our human reasoning. Blood pounding and adrenaline pumping, our brain battles with instincts long thought buried — our conscious thought overcome by fight-or-flight instincts. We start to do something drastic...

But then... we pause.

That's the single difference between "us" and "them." We haven't hit our breaking point, but they have. I assure you, however, that a breaking point does exist for each and every one of us. We've been fortunate enough to not cross the line, but it is clearly drawn somewhere inside us.

Who has never flown off the handle and broken something irrationally?

Who has never raised a hand in anger, only to have an internal safety mechanism catch the cocked hand a split second before it is released?

Who has never daydreamed about planting a punch squarely on their boss' nose?

The truly frightening aspect is that we can never know how close we were to carrying out those actions. The line is never clear until it has been crossed, and for some, there's no path to step back to safety. That line between idle ranting around the water cooler and real violence may be much thinner than we'd like to believe.

Think back to an occasion where you have felt your blood boil, and thought you were about to crack. How would you have reacted had you been unemployed and facing financial ruin? What if you were being harassed relentlessly at work or school? What if the difference between your breaking point and just another bad day is nothing more than the added stress of a flat tire on the expressway?

My point is that we are all the same people. Good and bad. We all have the same basic wiring. Luckily, some of us have stronger fuses and can better cope with the things that bring stress to our lives. Some, tragically, seem to have no fuse at all. The similarities we share with those unfortunate few frighten us because we see them inside ourselves. Nothing is more terrifying than a loss of control, and we seem to be willing to do anything to convince ourselves that the mirror being held up to us is somehow warped and twisted. It isn't the funhouse mirror we'd like to believe, but it is much easier to pretend it is than to deal with the ugly reflection it presents to us.

As the holidays come to a peak in the next few weeks, and we are inundated with messages of love and understanding, let's save a bit of compassion for those that we would normally push out of mind. Not to give them our sympathy selflessly, but rather to face our own fears and give thanks that somehow, some way, we haven't crossed our own personal points of no return. Let's hope we never do.


Copyright © December 2003  Aaron Gillum and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2003  Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury

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