APPLIED CULTURE GROUP recently returned from a series of training events in Iraq. Several months ago, an overseas partner asked us to design an intensive trauma awareness course to inform their existing public awareness campaigns. We broke new ground and leveraged our years of Applied Trauma Awareness for Practitioners (ATAP) and Responses to Trauma (R2T) training experience to co-create a curriculum with our good friend and founder of Third i Paradigm, Michelle Girard.
With the end of Daesh (ISIS) in sight, Iraqis face challenges and choices unprecedented in their collective history. The horrors perpetrated by terrorist extremists will leave an indelible mark on Iraqi society for generations. What each person, family and community chooses to do now will either ease the burden for future generations or increase the tempo and voracity of the ongoing cycles of violence.
Trauma’s ripples accumulate more quickly than they disperse or fade. When coupled with the mass scale of traumagenic events spanning decades in Iraq, populations often retreat into survival mode. Iraqis in newly liberated areas may confuse revenge with strength. In the heat of the moment, retributive violence promises to feel empowering and to restore that which was lost. Breaking free of this cycle, and creating non-violent alternatives, can seem impossible.
What we learned from our colleagues in Iraq is that breaking free is possible. Resilience and renewal remain possible in community. Posttraumatic growth occurs in community. Healing happens in community. Even when the social fabric seems shredded beyond repair, engaged Iraqi citizens are purposefully repairing the connections, healing relationships, and forging new trauma-informed identities: at the personal level, communal level, regional level, and national level. Not a small task. Not a task that can be completed by outsiders. We are honored to have made a small contribution to this effort. Positive change will happen through the vision, fortitude and persistence of those Iraqi bridge-builders, leaders, and influencers committed to a more just future.