CLOSE TO HOME| The Second of Fright

IT IS said that human beings have a “second of fright.” This is a term referred to the one second when soldiers in the battlefield hesitate to aim at their enemies and take away their opponents’ lives. During another lecture by Horst Hellman, a Steiner-Waldorf school mentor, he discussed that because of this human faculty, the men in the battlefield would redirect their aim and not really hit their target. In the perspective of war, this means wasted bullets and heightened risk of losing the war.

The war leaders were generally unhappy with this behavior and so they ended up training the soldiers to eliminate this “second of fright.” To achieve this, they introduced video games that require the gamer to react instantaneously. This actually means that the soldiers are being trained to not think and instead just fire according to their instincts. The premise that is being inserted in the mind of a gamer is kill or be killed. As in the online game Counter Strike, when the interface of the computer portrays the gamer with a gun while searching the location for “terrorists”. At the sight of a human being, the gamer should pull the trigger right away, otherwise, game over. The more subtle versions of these games are Fruit Ninja and the likes. We can only wonder the intention of those who created these kinds of distractions. If we are to look closer, this situation leads us to the question: Why do other people work hard to eliminate this “second of fright” when this is clearly given by nature to protect lives?

At first glance, one may easily dismiss it as entertainment but if one discerns over it, then it becomes apparent that it is, plain and simple, an attack to the whole human being. We may say that it should not be a problem since those who play these games are adults and that they are aware of their choices. But really, are they? How come it becomes too hard for them to pull them from their chairs when they are playing? And how about the children who have been playing these same games? We are unconsciously working to remove “second of fright” from our nature. This can be translated to eliminating our sense of others (this is the sense that allows us to feel empathy towards our fellow human beings) – a sense that is badly needed in this generation. If we allow these things to intrude over our humanity, then we run the risk of raising bio-robots who are programmed on an auto-pilot mode with deteriorated capacity to think.

When I learned about the “second of fright,” I was at first alarmed was wondering what could be done. The answer was shown to me through the children. Adults now have to be conscious about what we take in to our thoughts and what we feed to our children. The point of decision is now. As parents, educators, or simply citizens who care for the next generation, self-awareness is now being called for in us. We have to arrest this proliferation of things that ruin the human soul. Is it not sane that we justify wars for security? Anywhere in the world, the human beings have agreed to kill each other, reducing lives to body counts. If we continue treading along this kind of thinking and we continue to raise human beings along this premise, then we’re doomed. But the capacity to choose is still in our hands. We have to change our way of thinking so that the next generation will think in a way that will solve the problems that our old thinking has created. Albert Einstein had said that problems cannot be solved with the thinking that created it. It is high time that we reframe our thoughts in a way that will undo and arrest the damage that was done and is being done to the human senses.

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Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan is a mother of two and currently teaches at Tuburan Institute, a Steiner-Waldorf School in Mindanao. If you have questions, feel free to email her at socojoanmae@yahoo.com or through Facebook page Joan Mae Soco, or visit Tuburan Institute’s website at tuburaninstitute.net.

Love and respect,

Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan

(+63)942-552 2609

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