We can do better


From: Merle Hanson

We have been killing for as long as man has been walking the earth. We have used fists and rocks and disease and guns and drones to do the deed. Our hands are covered with blood and the innocent bystander has had enough.

The kid who blew up the school was living in his head. He hears and sees most everything and tries to process it his own way. He lived with his mother in a home with many guns. He turned on the TV and he saw guns. He played video games and he saw blood. He turned on AM radio and he heard hate. He went to church and even there, it is hate we hear. Hate begets hate and the cycle never stops.

The mentally ill have been part of our lives, forever. Folks like Hemingway and Dostoyevsky have written some of our best literature. Churchill and Lincoln lead countries through tough times and history looks kindly upon them. Perhaps, it is that touch of mental illness that gave the folks the insight to genius.

Hitler used his gas chambers with the mentally ill and disabled before he attempted to remove the Jews from the face of the earth. They were unproductive, in the eyes of the madman, and he found them of no use. They were just an expense in his economic machine. History does not look kindly upon the humanity of the Hitler regime. Of course, he was a bit deluded himself.

For many, the onset of mental illness occurs after they reach the age of 18, or adulthood. Like getting a Republican to see the wisdom of voting for a Democrat or vice versa, getting an individual to seek help can be futile. Reason is not part of the picture and in America, adults make their own choices for their own reasons.

That includes the right to see or not see a doctor. To take or not take prescribed medications. The right to recognize or not recognize the thoughts floating around in your head, and are they real or not. Sometimes, you could swear the voices are from God.

The difficulty to the mentally ill person is sometimes you are completely unaware that thoughts have taken over your actions. Like the obsessed, the mentally obsessed cannot stop once he starts. Outsiders can only hope they turn down the right path.

Some folks, you may never stop. The young man from Colorado whose precipitous fall into mental illness seemed astonishingly fast, was that smart. If guns and easy access to ammunition had not been easily available, he might have bought fertilizer or devised another bomb.

But, had he had time to come to his senses, the movie may have been watched by the folks that night who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. If he had time, he might have lost the courage to do the less than courageous act. The gift of time can sometimes overcome, whatever flaws we have in the human spirit. Like the mythical Shakespeare he might have found a way to channel his energy and enchant ours. We will never know, had we done differently and with our limited understanding of the men who travel in dark waters, we never will with that present knowledge. Answers will remain elusive but we do know continuing down the same path, or accelerating the current one, is sure to bring more lives, cut short. We can do better.


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