OMG, I just turned on the TV while eating a late lunch. The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut that occurred this morning is just unthinkable. I will not reiterate the events as I’m sure you are undoubtedly aware. What I will talk about is the unbelievable prejudice in our culture against recognition and treatment of mental illness.
This young man, as all those that inflict unspeakable violence on another, obviously suffer from various mental illnesses. It’s a very tough topic, and I’m certainly no authority. But I will say that there seem to be road blocks to identifying and finding resources of help for those in need. How do we notice, listen, take action, and intervene to help those that suffer from mental illness. There is no easy answer.
My family, just as most families, is not untouched. My sister took her own life, three days after Christmas- this year its seventeen years ago. My half sister died at forty-five of undisclosed but I suspect some similar circumstances. Those are not the only ones I know of that have died of some event, or series of events, related to the effects of some sort of mental illness or addiction. For my sister Jan, could I have done more than I did? Before her death, I didn’t think so. I had tried all sorts of avenues, and she had many mental health resources available to her and had undergone all sorts of treatment. After her death, all I felt was guilt. It’s only natural in hind sight, to second guess your actions if you loose someone close to suicide.
Games, media, movies, and tv are filling our minds, and more importantly, our children, with repeated violent and horrific concepts and scenes. Desensitization on all age levels is the result. If you see and hear it once, then twice, then three times, and on and on, it becomes ordinary and seemingly “normal.” There is no normal about it, and we can all make choices as to what we bring into our lives and the lives of our children. I have chosen NO!
Mental illness is not some illusive condition to talk about behind someone’s back, or to look away when noticing someone in trouble, or to walk away from someone in need. Violence is simply unnatural. Alcoholism, drug addition and abuse also play a major role in violent crime. I’d love to know the actual statistics as to how many accidents or violent crimes happen under the influence.
But what as individuals, as a culture, can we, or do we do? We can start…
It seems we have become a culture and a world of high stress, isolation, and extremes. The economy, making a living, and the basics of life are just not easy to manage in this great country that defines the goal of life as the concept of “The American Dream.” Companies no longer respect their employees, or their customers, as humans and individuals with needs and desires just like their own. Believing I am different, my view or belief is more right or important than yours, creates isolation and hate that fuels our separation. Companies are destroying the environment for the sake of corporate greed and stock reports.
I propose we begin to look at each other, smile, reach out, show compassion, and look for ways to be of help instead of looking the other way. Is it comfortable? In a word, no! Is what happened today acceptable, NO! Change begins with me, and I challenge myself just as I challenge you. To repeat a phrase, be the change you’d like to see in the world! Make your voice heard!
Please pray for the children in Newtown, Connecticut, and their families. Innocence lost… by those that have left us, and all those that are left behind…
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