Column: Mother Demonstrated Great Courage

September 20, 2016

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

What a wonderful contribution Ms. Nicole Furbert-Fox made at last week’s public meeting hosted by the Bermuda Police Service, which I happened to attend.

Ms Furbert-Fox, whose son Ricco Furbert was murdered in 2013, provided an example to the rest of us of how we all have the power to choose to respond to circumstances rather than react.

I don’t believe that any of those others of us attending the session would have been so directly impacted by the cycle of gang-related violence that has plagued our community for more than a decade. When she rose to speak, it was obvious that Ms Furbert-Fox was feeling those negative emotions related to her tragedy.

Audio of Ms Furbert-Fox’s comments at the meeting:

However, she demonstrated a great deal of courage, using the occasion of the meeting to bring people together. In her transformative demonstration, she not only reached out to mothers of the shooting victims but also mothers of the shooters, inviting them all to come together in support of each other.

As humans, we have two ways to address extraordinary circumstances. Our most ancient means is known as the fight or flight reaction. This age-old instinct, controlled by the base of the brain, was key in saving human kind from earliest history, from being the victim of natural predators.

The other means involves the higher brain, which when it evolved gave humans the ability to reflect on circumstances before ‘responding’. The challenge is that it is much easier to resort to fight or flight mode, and the hormones that are dumped as a result block our ability to involve our higher brain for careful assessment of circumstances.

To be clear, fight or flight is essential if we are being attacked by a pit-bull, but significantly unhelpful if we are involved in a disagreement with our neighbour.

The 2 hour 20 minute live stream replay of the meeting:

At that recent meeting there were some speaking from the floor whose contributions seemed to indicate that they were in the fight or flight mode. In that mode, an unintended consequence is that the person under that influence promotes conflict rather than collaboration. However, Ms Furbert-Fox demonstrated the power of overcoming any pain – in the moment – as she encouraged the rest of us to become a part of the solution.

In fact as we reflect on the ‘gang’ problem, it offers a learning opportunity regarding how humans address life – the big picture. ‘Gangs’ are characterized by groups having a heightened sense of ‘us and them’; at its extremes, it evolves into ‘war’. It is arguable that all of us slip into this type of ‘tribalism’ from time-to-time; in our families, organizations such as schools, churches, etc, thinking our groups have it ‘right’.

If we allow ourselves to be dominated by a fight or flight mode we will more likely slip into this ‘tribalism,’ acting in hyper competition with others, especially those we consider different. This way of being results in maintaining the momentum supporting conflict and the cycle of violence.

However, if we can draw from the example offered by Ms Furbert-Foster, we will – with self awareness – access our higher brain. As we reflect on the circumstances that all of us share in our small island, we will be able to move beyond competition into a purposeful collaboration. She has identified the commonality between mothers of victims and shooters.

Let’s learn from what Ms Furbert-Foster has offered and build bridges across our community in order to fundamentally transform our situation to the benefit of upcoming generations.

- Glenn Fubler

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