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Civil Unrest stressors: How did we not see it coming?

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

2020 has been a strange and very volatile year. A year plagued by a pandemic, multitude of protests spread over different boundaries, natural disasters haven't stopped, crime has escalated in many communities due to protests started by the death of George Floyd, we started seeing protests over everything. We will end the year with a presidential election that will likely have some controversy that will cause more protests. Some agencies are recording many law enforcement personnel leaving in droves opening up communities for more violence and no police response.

This year it appeared that the protests that turned violent caught us by surprise. But why? Americans have endured violent protests before. We've endured riots. So why do we seem unprepared? I have selected three stressors that have great potential for protests. Not peaceful protests, that is a foundation of America. I'm talking violent protests, the stressors that cause civil unrest.

1) Political stressors: On the eve of an election cycle I thought I would start with political stressors. We have had different political parties for hundreds of years. Democrat vs. Republican (Conservative vs. Liberal) This last presidential campaign has been the most hate filled diatribe I have ever seen. This stressor has caused hate among friends, family, and even business to business interactions. One side pointing the finger towards another. One side blaming the other. Knowing that this happens, how can we not see that this could lead to violence or do we just not know it happens because we ourselves are part of the problem?

2) Social stressors: This year we had a Minneapolis Police Officer murder George Floyd. I've worked in law enforcement and I can tell you there is no excuse for doing what he did; but I can tell you defunding and abolishing police departments will also lead us down a path where we will live in a society of only the strongest will survive and many innocent citizens will be victimized because of it. We know this but we are willing to take that risk until it's too late and then we will not know how to recover. So if we knew this action would likely happen why are so many communities under siege? How did we let it happen? We've seen it before.

3) Economic stressors: We have had a year of a pandemic. Covid-19 caused the closure of many businesses permanently, many have lost revenue, and many will be further in debt when the pandemic subsides. But we have had pandemics before but this caught us by surprise. We have seen protests involving this. "Do we mask or unmask?" Sometimes economic stressors can be localized; water treatment plants, oil refineries, or a business development in a residential community. However, if we follow the temperament of people on both sides we shouldn't be surprised when violence happens.

The point is we live in a world of better medicine, better technology, and more experience. Yet 2020 has been a year of surprises. Why were we not prepared? How will we be better prepared for the next incident that may cause our country to go in a state of disarray and civil unrest?

Stay safe and be vigilant.

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