Risk Management. When I think of risk management my mind automatically goes to physical risk, and I’m sure many of you feel the same. I’ve spent a large part of my life participating in outdoor (risky) sports, including but not limited to cliff jumping, whitewater kayaking, snake wrangling, and paintball. In all of those cases, the risks and risk management strategies were obvious and most of the time involved nothing more than some padding and common sense. What I didn’t realize until recently is that risk management goes a lot deeper and covers a lot more than simple cuts and scrapes, and it is something that is becoming increasingly crucial in our developing digital, globalized world. This brings us to MUN, and how psychological and emotional risks are just as serious and should be considered in an equally intense manner to their physical counterparts, especially when debate and competition is involved. Model United Nations, as I have said time and time again, is an opportunity for students to leave their comfort zone and consider perspectives that are new. But this approach raises the question, can it go to far? And if so, when? Many of the MUN topics that are chosen are directly related to war, genocide, and other heinous human processes that many people have trouble understanding and accepting. I struggled with these questions in a very clear example from my first MUN conference and it was the first time I’d truly sat down and contemplated this possible outlook. It was the second day of the conference, and as is MUN tradition, I had organized a crisis (fictional situation related to the topic that forces escalated talks) complete with a video and formal briefing. The crisis involved an airstrike that accidentally killed Russian soldiers, and although the premise was fictional I used an authentic video. This video featured 8 confirmed taliban insurgents, and had been taken from the FLIR camera mounted on an AH-64 USAF Apache Attack Helicopter. The video was grainy and unclear, with the insurgents looking like little more than black blobs, but it was clear that they were human. I chose this video without hesitation as I am very interested in warfare and accustomed to such films, but i had to stop and consider, is this appropriate? Or will it be traumatizing? After all that is 8 human beings vaporized by a missile designed to destroy bunkers, and that can be incredible taxing on unaccustomed eyes. I ended up showing the video and it went off without a hitch, but I had to really change my frame of consideration and understand that while getting out of your is all well and good, there is a certain limit to what people should be exposed to. One of my personal heroes, Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, once said in an interview that everyday civilians just can’t understand or accept war and its realities, and I believe that nothing is more true. We can’t understand what war is like, and it is often traumatizing in a way that must be dealt with carefully and consciously, in CAS and life itself.
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