All we've been hearing about since Friday morning was the shooting in Sandy Hook. People are dealing with fear, anger and grief. People have questions. No one has answers. I have my thoughts:
First and foremost, I'm not touching the gun issue. Gun control is like abortion, both sides are diametrically opposed and it's almost impossible to meet in the middle. Plus, I'm biased. I really dislike guns, and sincerely believe that no one should have guns and we should all live in peace and harmony. Yes, I know I'm the Pollyanna, the Chief Executive of Fantasy Land. This is why I'm staying out of that fight.
Second, I know that the shooter was diagnosed Autistic. Well, I believe it was more than that... there must have been bigger, deeper issues at play.
Third, school security was to blame by many people. He shot locks off the door. I think having an armed guard is the only other precaution they could have had.
Fourth, I think two things lie at the heart of this, and the other shootings that have happened recently: the sensationalization of shooters in the media and our society's relationship with mental illness.
Let me explain:
First, the easier answer. People have tried to point to violent video games and violent movies as the cause of this type of mass violence. Well, no study has ever proven the link. What I think is the cause is that quest for the elusive 15 minutes of fame. People that want to go out in infamy, if fame can't be achieved. Look at the media. We glorify reality stars that have no talent other than having a camera following them around. So we have these people that are already unhinged. They have some sort of huge message. And one sure fire (pardon the pun) way for people to remember you is to kill innocent people.
Secondly, the hard answer. Our culture's relationship with mental illness. First, read this. She says it better than I could. Mental illness, mild or severe, is seen is a weakness. It's not. Mental illness isn't a sign that you are a bad person. It's not a sign that you need to be locked away. It's a sign that you have a problem, and that you need help. If you broke your arm or had pneumonia, you'd also be having a problem and needing help. It's doubly hard if you're a parent of a mentally ill child. Not only do you have your own issues, but you also face the scorn of people blaming you.
I don't think people really know how insanely difficult it is to get help for mental illness. First you have to wade through all of the misguided societal crap, the thoughts that you are broken or weak for having a problem. Then you need to battle your insurance.
Take me, for example. I have issues with anxiety, so I looked into it. What it takes: You have to call a hotline and talk to perfect strangers. They then assess you and see if you're worthy for help. If they approve, they send you to a doctor. you don't chose your own. Now, I've seen the provider list. it's pitifully short, and contains mainly addiction specialists. Now, say you get into a doctor. You have to try different therapies, each of which the insurance company can say no to.
It's a humiliating process. I've had friends that have gone through it. I haven't had the courage to pick up the phone yet.
Today, I'm going to not watch the news. I'm not going to feed into the sensational stories of people gone bad. I'm going to work. I'm going to go home. i'm going to do laundry and dye my hair.
And I'm going to pray for those lives lost.