Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Tough World

Yesterday's post put the horrific events in Arizona out on the blog. Even mentioning this is so different from the usual atmosphere of this blog, but it's something that really can't be ignored.

We are living in difficult times, and I do think that's one of the reasons people are reading more--to find themselves in another environment where things have a pretty good chance of turning out better.

My big problem with what everyone is saying about what caused this latest horror is that the shooter or shooters if they do find out it was more than one, was mentally unbalanced. Anyone who would shoot into a crowd and not care about who was killed, is not right in the head. That's all there is to it. What do we do about it? I haven't a clue.

Because a person who is crazy doesn't act normal and is usually not a comfortable person to be around, even family members shy away. No doubt there were plenty of signs that trouble was brewing with this man or men--but no one was brave enough to try and do anything about it.

Think back to the Columbine shooting, the parents of those boys professed that they knew nothing. Of course they knew something wasn't right, but they didn't really want to know the truth. Teachers and their fellow students had to know that these kids had problems--but instead they were ignored and probably shunned for being different when they needed serious help.

You can blame it on politics or any number of things, but the real truth is there are people in this world who aren't right. Years ago, they were put into institutions. Now a person who is mentally ill has rights, the option to take or not take his medication, the option to live on the streets if he's too deranged to hold a job. We see someone like that and we walk past with our eyes turned away.

In a perfect world, someone would intervene. Unfortunately this is not a perfect world. I have no answers, but it's too easy to blame what happened on someone else--politics, politicians, talk show hosts, news people--I don't think that's where the blame belongs. It belongs with all of us who do not pay attention to the people around us, who aren't willing to notice when things are going wrong with our friends and relatives.

It is a tough world and it'll probably get tougher.

I know this wasn't helpful, but it's how I feel.



  1. It's a horribly tough and disheartening world, and getting scarier every day. I am sad, too.

  2. My thoughts exactly! Unfortunately all the signs were there but everyone looked the other way because they didn't want the young man labeled.

    Well, which is worse? 'Mentally ill, but treatable before he does something horrible to himself or others', or 'Mentally ill mass murderer who will now spend the rest of his life in a prison or an institution.'

    Something tells me the choice is obvious.

  3. I absolutely agree that we should all try to be more aware of the people around us and to reach out to anyone we believe is struggling (for any reason). But it's not that simple. "Mentally ill" is a catch phrase covering a wide variety of conditions with an even wider variety of symptoms, including no visible symptoms at all. Not all people who are "mentally ill" are "crazy". Assigning/taking responsibility for someone with mental or emotional problems is equally difficult. If your neighbor, who has no family, tells you he's taking medication for depression, are you now responsible for making sure he takes his medication? Who is? And if he becomes so depressed that he takes his own life and/or the life of someone else, who's responsible.

    I fear the answers are not as easy or obvious as we might hope.

  4. I think people do notice. I think just so frequently we don't know what to do with our five minutes or seconds of time that we spend with a kid or person that we know is struggling. I wish there were a manual.

  5. I wanted to add that some of problem is in how we handle mental illness as a society, specifically in how we choose to not pay for treating it much via our health care systems and social programs. But, we always pay for it down the road. The same way we don't want to pay the high-costs of getting people health care that would amount to early-intervention care, but we are willing to stay blind and dumb about how much it costs to have people who will need care crowd ERs around the nation at many times the cost. We kid ourselves that "we're" not paying.

    While I understand that our entire nation is in tough economic times, one of the terrible dangers of shrinking budgets is that cuts get made to programs for the physically and mentally ill, many of them homeless, that just worsen conditions. Sure, it's one thing when a person who is on the edge of being dangerous has a home or family or friends who can and maybe should help keep them and others safe, but what about the growing number of people with nothing and no one, many of them young and still developing kids, who are on that same edge?

    This to me is akin to deep cuts to education that will only cost us down the road when the US will be depending on the skills and talents of an poorly educated majority.