A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: When Violence Intrudes

by Amber Lea Starfire on April 18, 2013

Violence
We can’t avoid it. It’s all over the news and in conversations: wars, random shootings, gang rapes, knifings and, most recently, the Boston Marathon bombings. Violence, if we are to judge by news sources, is everywhere and could even be considered “normal.” I’ve been involved in many philosophical arguments over the years about whether or not human nature is inherently violent, and I’ve always argued that it’s not, that all the history of violence can be chalked up to social conditioning. And for the most part, I’ve been able to turn my face away from the violence of the news and toward the good being done every day.

But then something like the Boston Marathon bombing happens, and the violence is in my face. As much as I might want to, there’s no way to ignore it. The face of that precious eight-year-old boy holding a sign for peace breaks my heart, and I find myself grieving for him and his mother and father and little sister — for all of us, and for all places in the world where families are not safe.

How do we respond?  Some become fearful, point fingers at suspicious ethnic groups, get angry at our government or right-wing organizations. Some insulate themselves emotionally. Others talk about it for a while, then get lost in the day-to-day details of their lives — until the next violent act intrudes. Some of us do all of the above.

Whether we have been victims of violence or are merely sympathetic to those who have been victims, at some point violence — distant or up close and personal — forces its way into our lives. It alters the way we see the world, and we can no longer shield ourselves from the pain.

What then? How do we make sense of the senseless?

One of the reasons I write is to make sense of life, to process what I see and hear and feel, and to understand how to make choices that will best serve me and my loved ones as I go forward. For me, journaling is always a first step toward understanding.

Today, I want to share with you a week’s worth of journaling prompts in the form of sentence starters. These prompts may help you process and heal from the pain of violence. Use one sentence starter each day. Complete the sentence at least five times, going deeper each time and then continue writing about that sentence starter until you feel you’ve expressed everything you can about it.

  1. I believe violence occurs in the world because …
  2. My first response to violence is … Then, I …
  3. The kinds of violence that affect me most are … because …
  4. Violence toward others triggers my memories of …
  5. The reason I’m writing about this topic at this time is …
  6. I believe the best way to reduce or stop violence is to …
  7. I can heal the violence in my life by …

I invite you to share your perspective and add to the conversation by adding a comment below.
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Photo Credit: LINUZ90 via Compfight

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