The Atlantic recently published a short article where a prisoner, Kenneth Gourlay responded to the pros and cons of upgraded riot-suppression training that correctional officers receive. The commentary was profound in its clarification of a famous quote by Einstein:
"You can't solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it."
Kenneth shows how this plays out in his prison system in this statement:
"I found it hard to believe the presumption that riot-suppression training is responsible for reducing prison riots despite the increased prisoner population. To the contrary, I am more inclined to think that rioting has decreased exactly because of the increase in population."
Suppressing X Does Not Eliminate X
Riot-suppression is a reaction to riots and upgrading the training regimen creates an anticipation for future riots. And the fact that future riots are a given creates a mindset for preparing to suppress them. It's a self-fulfilling cycle.
We all do this. When someone gets angry, we tell them to stop getting angry. When someone is shy, we tell them to stop being shy. And so on. The circular reasoning is never clear at first, it makes sense to approach the problem head on.
Doing The Opposite
Here's how Kenneth explains the reduced rioting:
"If correctional officers can take credit for reduced violence, it’s because of their training to avoid the use of force whenever possible and to treat their wards with the respect and dignity any human being deserves. Beyond their training in physical control, they also are experienced in addressing complaints through diplomatic communication and rational problem-solving, so problems can be resolved long before they turn into riots."
Instead of telling someone to stop being angry, create a fun and happy environment where anger can't exist. Instead of telling someone to stop being shy, start dialog that makes it easier to open up. Do the opposite of what you want to suppress.
Please share your thoughts!