Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dear Sigmund

With the recent tragedy at an elementary school in Connecticut, the conversation has seemed to focus on gun control for the most part. Events such as these make us want to do SOMETHING - even if it has very little effect. Politicians trumpet stricter gun laws - banning so-called "assault weapons", to make it look as if they are doing SOMETHING of value. Understand, that is what politicians do: they legislate away problems. In Connecticut, however, they already have strict gun laws; a ban on "assault weapons" and elementary schools are already what are called "gun-free zones". Yet, this still happened. Are more gun laws really going to fix it? I think we have the focus on the wrong issue.

We sit and wonder, "what kind of mentally deranged individual would do such a heinous thing as this?" And that is the heart of it: people who do these things ARE mentally deranged. But what can we do about that?

We need, not just easier access to even better mental health provisions but, the PERMISSION to suggest it. When Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army Major opened fire in the Fort Hood military base in 2009, nobody thought to question his behavior prior to the incident. After all, he was a psychiatrist. Surely he of all people was mentally healthy.  Rumors floated around about his state of mind AFTER the incident. Really?

Terms like "dark", "loner", and "quiet" describe the last few school "terrorists". Such are ascribed AFTER the tragedies. People come forward AFTER the tragedies to make these statements. Why not before?

(Here is where I may upset my readers.)

The enemy, as Pogo once said, is us. The fault? Is ours. We are too afraid to say something BEFORE. Maybe it's "politically incorrect" to point out that someone may need care or observation. Maybe we are afraid of being sued. Maybe we have pushed our moral code so far down within us that we won't take the risk of being accused of being "judgmental". Who are we? The whacko religious-right? Absolutely not.

Do we need better healthcare laws that promote mental health services? Maybe. But what we need more is the loss of the stigma that the need for mental care has attached to it. Look at Alcoholics Anonymous. There is nothing shameful about admitting you are an alcoholic and need help. We have gotten over, for the most part, that stigma. What about in the areas of depression? There has to be more than prescription-medicine-commercials-for-depression to reach people. And not just for those needing the help, but for us - those having to live with the aftermath of ignoring it.

It's time for us to realize that our society is full of hurting people. Reach out to them. Help them. If you are in a church it is your duty to reach out to them. Don't wait for the government to handle this. We all know how beneficial another law can be . . .

Note: the title of this blog comes from an episode of the television show "M*A*S*H". In it, Dr. Sidney Freedman is coping with his own depression; writing a letter to Sigmund Freud.

© Emittravel 2012

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