Why Social Impact Needs a Seal Team 6 | INFINITE 8 INSTITUTE / by Ean Garrett

Anyone with internet access is well aware of the knot the world has tied itself into, but so what? In society, bad things happen and people often go off the edge of the cliff. In light of recent social turmoil in cities like Chicago, Paris, Ferguson, or San Bernadino, what has emerged is a real need to address social, economic, and ideological issues proactively before they explode. Only an elite force of experienced professionals, trained in the art of implementing sustainable and community led interventions will do; the equivalent of a Social Impact Seal Team 6.

To be clear, by referencing Seal Team 6 (ST6), in no way are we promoting the secret targeting of suspected militants. Rather let us take the concept of ST6, and reverse engineer it for peaceful purposes. In order to reverse engineer any concept or organization, we must first look at its initial definition and mission. The ST6, more recently referred to as the United States Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), was created in the aftermath of the Iran Hostage Crisis. As a result, an elite counter-terrorism unit was formed, able to quickly assemble and deploy anywhere in the world within a few hours. Now when this force is sent into a situation, all other options have likely faded, and with a budget that is more than the entire Marine Core, the unit has virtually unlimited resources at its disposal. With some of the best trained soldiers in the world, and the necessary resources to accomplish even the most difficult of missions, it is understandable that ST6 was able to capture an elusive known terrorist as prominent as Osama Bin Laden.

Yet, what if such detail, skill, precision, and resources were put into an elite team of intensely trained professionals, on-call and ready to fly into any city or state, to proactively assist in the creation or implementation of innovative, and customized solutions to organizations and communities across America? For example, prior to the release of the dashcam video showing the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, there was much intervention that could have taken place with city officials, protestors, and community activists to offer forward thinking and sustainable solutions, preventing social and civil unrest.

 Navy seals conducting intense underwater training exercises.

Navy seals conducting intense underwater training exercises.

In the wake of the Paris and San Barnadino attacks, the New York Police have begun to reach out to the Muslim Community in efforts of solidarity. With a well-documented rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and hostility since 9/11, this should have been done long ago. In the wave of mass-shootings in the United States, many shooters ultimately commit suicide. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), is the number one risk of suicide (or suicidal behavior) among youth, and is the cause of two-thirds of the 30,000 reported suicides in the U.S. each year. And despite its highly effective treatment rate, nearly 2 out of 3 people suffering from MDD do not actively seek nor receive treatment. By ignoring this epidemic we are allowing innumerable time-bombs to exist in our society.

The list of socioeconomic and ideological issues in America is long. As a result, a team of professionals ready to impact communities and organizations dealing with seen or unseen tensions, must have a variety of specialties and expertise. Their identities must be as diverse as their collective skill sets, especially if they are to effectively empathize and gain the trust of communities around the country. In order to achieve such results, this group also must be supported by an array of resources both monetary and non-monetary to get the job done.

In America, our freedom is both a gift and a curse. In our great nation, no individual right is infringed upon until the individual jumps off of the proverbial cliff, even if blatant signs precede the fall. But as recent occurrences have shown, early, proactive, and preventative measures must be utilized without infringing upon individual rights. Often, the reaction of the local authorities, mediators, and support groups are far too late. Also, these various reactionary groups often lack the highest degree of cross-sector knowledge, experience, and expertise to create lasting impact.

If an endless amount of resources and energy can be poured into tracking down and eliminating suspected terrorists, then why not spend the same amount of resources and energy preventing the socioeconomic and ideological environments that fuel terrorists, criminals, and protests? By strategically and proactively attacking homelessness, poverty, health disparities, and violence in communities across America, the land of the free will become a safer place to be. Such a response would require less responses. Let us meditate on this. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Ean Garrett, J.D., is the author of two books, "Rebirth of a Dream" and "The Immovable Race", as well as the Chief Innovation Officer of the consulting firm, Infinite 8 Institute, L3C, specializing in the design and finance of social impact systems. Follow him on Twitter & IG: @eangarrett