There are so many thoughts running through my mind regarding the tragedy at the elementary school in Connecticut this past Friday---spanning from the families and friends of the victims and the gunman, to the issue of how we regard and treat mental illness in America, to the explosive issue of gun control. Video games, music, the media, and politics also come to mind.
First, the families of the victims. How do you explain to the brother or sister that the brother or sister is not coming home from school? Or ever again? How do you explain what happened to them? How do those kids go back to that school? Will they ever feel safe again? My Christmas last year was bad enough after losing my Dad two weeks before, but how do these families, this town, celebrate Christmas? Ever again? How much time will it take to heal these deep, dark wounds?
The gunman. I'm really pissed at him. For doing it. For not leaving a note and saying why he did it. For not asking for or pursuing help. For being a total coward and killing himself. And I feel really sorry for him and his family. I ask the questions that every one else is asking, the biggest one of which is "were there any warning signs?" If there were warning signs, could he have gotten help, or could someone have gotten help for/with him?
Why is mental illness STILL such a stigma in our society? Why isn't it treated like a physical illness, and insured like one? Insurance companies only insure to a certain point. Why? Because they will lose their precious profits. Yes, I'm pissed at the insurance companies too. Really pissed at them. That they deny proper treatment--both medication and counseling to so many of those who need it. And so, so many of the ones who need it cannot get the right kind of insurance or any insurance at all. That's so morally wrong. I cannot believe that we let this happen in this great country. Yet this is no longer the great country I used to think it is, because the almighty dollar is more important than precious life--tobacco, alcohol, mental health, gun control, gambling (oops! I mean "gaming"), guns, asbestos, oil vs. alternate forms of energy and global warming--to name a few. Companies/corporations are making serious money off of peoples' lives. And we Americans allow this to happen. We have to put an end to this once and for all.
Lastly the news media, video games, Hollywood, music, television are equal contributors and are countered by the lack of parental/adult guidance. Video games, the movies, and television shows are so spectacularly violent now that our population is almost desensitized to it. People see these criminals mass killing and some who aren't too sure about how tell the difference between right and wrong think this is ok to do in real life. The most spectacular of movies at the box office is usually the most violent---and brings in the most money. Our choice of television is "drama", or reality tv or sitcoms where people degrade and insult one another. And the news media thrives on violence. The headliners every night on the local news in Chicago are what I now refer to as the daily body count. My brother-in-law from England was amazed and astonished that it was so consistent. It seems like the news desks take the lazy way out each day and listen to the scanner to get "the big story".
I touched on mental illness, and now I'll touch on gun control. We're way beyond controlling guns because there are simply too many out there already. Police buyback programs are great as long as the guns are destroyed and don't end up back on the street. I understand the 2nd amendment, but there are way too many people and too many guns now to use that as an excuse to continue to permit gun use. Illinois is debating concealed carry--well, that's just great. I doubt that'll stop the people walking into shopping malls, movie theaters, and other places where people assemble freely (yes, another constitutional amendment). The age old excuse of "guns don't kill people, people do" is only half correct. The wrong people who get a hold of guns kill greater numbers of people much easier than rocks, sticks, and knives do. The NRA has been very weak to even acknowledge what happened on Friday, but they'll keep strongly supporting their buddies the gun users and manufacturers--licensed or not. The gun lobby? Again, it's all about the almighty freakin' dollar. Gun permits and background checks? Great, but the guns STILL get into the wrong hands, as happened this past Friday.
I have no solutions or answers. I wish I did.