This post is going to be hard to write. I have too much to say and not enough writing ability to say it the way I think it. I’m heartbroken, but worse, I feel frustrated and helpless.
Helpless because this is going to happen again and again. The variables that go into a situation where an individual decides to kill innocent people as some kind of statement are too diverse for there to be an easy fix. If you look at Facebook, of course, you’ll find all sorts of solutions.
- better gun control
- more people carrying guns
- better parenting
- better school security
- more religion in schools
- less violent video games and media
I could go on and on.
It’s easy to put a firm statement out there about what needs to happen so this doesn’t happen again. It’s human nature. If we think we know the solution then we can control the problem, and who wouldn’t want to feel like they have control over this problem? We never want to think of ourselves or our kids in that kind of mortal danger. We’d be paralyzed if we thought about all of the “what ifs” every day.
The primary issue here is not gun control, although I do believe it has a role to play, and it is certainly not about school prayer. Seriously, if you are trying to tell me that God needs to teach us a lesson by having someone kill 6 & 7 year olds and their teachers, then you need to take a hard look at the God you believe in.
The issue here is mental illness, and the lack of resources available to help individuals and families who are dealing with it. Even though it seems like there is an overabundance of little pills for all kinds of mental problems like depression and anxiety there is actually very little help for and understanding of major psychiatric issues and personality disorders. Add into that, the difficulty in getting services for psychiatric disorders and the stigma surrounding mental illness, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Addressing mental illness is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is fraught with difficulties. What do we do with a child who displays sociopathic signs? Lock them up and throw away the key…just in case? You may be thinking that, yes, that is exactly what we need to do to keep everyone safe, but what if it was your child? They haven’t done anything yet. You love them, and you’re scared of them at the same time. Do you condemn them to an institution? Do you hope for the best? Who do you turn to for help when everyone looks at you strangely when your child acts out? When everyone blames you because that is easier than admitting that mental illness is random?
I am not ashamed to admit that many members of my family have struggled with varying degrees of mental illness. Some have gotten better with intervention, some haven’t. Some refuse intervention, but they are adults and that is their right, I guess. Unlike physical illness, mental illness is still shrouded in shame and secrecy. It’s interesting to me how no one blames a parent if their kid gets leukemia, but if the child is diagnosed as bipolar then the parents must have done something to cause it. This type of judgmental attitude needs to change.
As it stands, I don’t know what the answer is, unless it is to say that there is no one answer, but opening up about mental illness and how to treat it is a big step in the right direction.
To quote President Obama from his Newtown Speech:
We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.
If you are a reader, I would like to suggest you read “We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. It is a gripping and chilling book about a mother whose son has committed a mass murder at his high school. The story deals with the aftermath she must face but also tells the story of how she knew there was something wrong with him from early childhood and the desperation she feels to understand and change it.
From the blogosphere, I think everyone needs to read this. It is currently making the rounds on Facebook under the title: “I am Adam Lanza’s Mom”
Written by a mom who has a son who, by all accounts could grow up to be another name in the news. As a mother I am so sad for her, but also want to be sure no one ever gets hurt by her son. I hope that this family gets the help they need so they can all be at peace. A needed perspective from the other side of the story.
Finally, I wanted to confess, I hadn’t cried about this news story since it broke. I was just to stunned to process it properly. Watching the President’s speech from Newtown, got me choked up, until he read the names of those precious babies who were snatched so violently from this world. Then I was sobbing, for the fear they must have felt, and for the anguish their parents are feeling now. And yes, I even feel a great deal of compassion for the shooter’s father and brother. They are left alone, without answers and I imagine a great deal of guilt.
Thank you for making it this far. There are a lot of blogs being written right now on this subject. If you feel the way I feel, please like or comment, but most of all share. Get the word out and drown some of the noise out there on the internet.
Now, if you’re a parent go and give your kid an extra squeeze. They will look at you like you’re crazy (at least mine did) but that is because they are blissfully ignorant of the fragility of life, and that is part of what makes them beautiful and precious.