Sunday, December 16, 2012

Blathering on about grief and anger and hope

We (Americans) are so f***ed up.
Don't get me wrong. I also think we are awesome and amazing and pretty dang fabulous, 
nevertheless, we are also deeply effed up.
Ya know, pretty much like every other nation in the world, but in our own unique way.

The way we aggrandize violence, ignore, marginalize, and refuse to treat mental illness, as well as our refusal to engage in any sane, national conversation about what sensible gun laws might be all combine to create situations like Sandy Hook.
Having one group shrieking, "No guns, never guns, aaaaaargh!" and another group raging, "Must haz ALL the guns!" is rather counter-productive to a well-reasoned approach.
The person who commits murder always bears the guilt of that act. I am not attempting to diminish that truth but I do think it is time we evaluate what our society is doing.

One of my Facebook friends posted this image as if it suggests a good solution to the recent events.

This is an elementary class in Israel with an armed adult.
 The fact that anyone thought this is a reasonable solution mystifies, angers, and grieves me. People in Israel live every day under fear of death, rocket fire, loss of loved ones. Are we really at the point in this country where we want to adopt the mindset and actions of war-torn nation, not because we are embroiled in an actual geo-political conflict but simply because we cannot be bothered to find a way to live peaceably??
I know people who've experienced the never-ending fear and uncertainty of surviving life in a war zone. They value the blessings of  peace and liberty extraordinarily highly and I believe you would have a hard time convincing them that the way to preserve and celebrate the American way of life is to embrace the life-style forced on those who live under constant fear of attack.

Let me be clear, I am not anti-gun. I support the right of people to own guns, hunt, target shoot, and shoot in competitions. I believe every single member of our armed services ought to be trained in handling weapons (and just in case you didn't know this, no, not all military members currently are trained in firing weapons). My children have both taken the hunter safety course in my state and gone hunting. They've been to youth hunter training offered by our local gun range and been train pretty extensively by my dad and husband about gun safety, gun handling, and responsible gun ownership. I am all for responsible gun ownership.
However, we need to speak truth on this matter.

It's time to quit pretending that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams wanted assault rifles in the hands of anyone who shows up at a gun show with the money to buy one.
I, for one, do not understand why assault weapons were ever subject to private ownership. I firmly believe that tanks, gun ship helicopters, and assault weapons belong only in the hands of military members and law enforcement officers. Nevertheless, they are in the hands of private citizens and the responsible owners; the ones who properly secure their weapons, use them sensibly, and follow laws and safety guidelines are not the people creating anguish. It is unrealistic though to behave as if this describes all gun owners.

Even more important than gun laws (because it is true that laws regarding guns only have an effect on those who follow laws) are the matters of how our society regards violence and how we handle mental illness.
This is a link to one woman's take on this recent tragedy and her connection to mental illness.

A gun ban is an oversimplified answer to this issue. We need to develop a culture of honoring life, non-violence, and caring for those with mental illness.

I hope we can honor the memories of these precious babies and their teachers by doing the best we can to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.


Jeni said...

Thank you for a very well-reasoned post about the current issues facing our country. My beliefs on the gun control pretty much mirrors yours. And definitely, your opinion on the mental health issues in this country were spot-on! And, I had previously seen and read the post you linked to on Facebook which does paint a very graphic picture of what families often do encounter (and endure) in trying to find treatment for a family member, that is good reliable, responsible and AFFORDABLE!

lime said...

thank you. we'll be hearing a lot of sound bites and seeing a lot of stupid comments posted on various sites that attempt to reduce this to a single issue with a single, simple solution but it's far more complex than that. of course you know this and so do i...i hope it doesn't take more senselessness to convince the majority of people of such and for everyone to be willing to enter into sensible solutions.

Bijoux said...

My comment was going to be similar to Jeni's. i know a mom who has a son with severe behavioral issues and she has nowhere to turn, just like was described in the blog you linked.......lots of diagnoses, lots of medications, nothing has changed. She finally had to pull him out of school and attempt homeschooling. Now she never gets a break from him. It's a heartbreaking situation.

actonbell said...

Wonderful, sane commentary. I hope this tragedy can at least be the tipping point that will force us to have reasonable dialogs about gun ownership AND better treatment of mental illness.

Anonymous said...

to repeat a comment i've left elsewhere...

Like abortion, the gun control argument will never be settled because the positions taken are so divisive. Doesn't mean we should stop talking about it, and trying to de-politicize it at this stage of the game just ain't gonna happen. Newtown is a heartbreaking tragedy – all the more so as it leaves a feeling of helplessness in its wake. It’s not like Sandy or some other natural disaster where pitching in can ease our sadness for the families having their babies brutally taken from them.

However, we have the society we have asked for. When I was a kid, it was safe to go outside and play – all day – with friends, without a thought of predators or shootings. When you wanted to ride a bike and were lucky enough to own one, you told Mom where you were headed, hopped on and took off without having to dress like a hockey goalie.

But we have “progressed” since then. We have asked, demanded, for new, better, faster, sharper, cooler, easier since then – and we’ve received just what we asked for. It is rare for Moms to stay home – not because they don’t want to, but because they have to in order to make ends meet. We don’t have pinball anymore – we have violent video games complete with bloody gun hits on our 52 inch flat screens. Our kids don’t socialize they stay inside glued to virtual killing. We have movies and TV shows that emphasize violence as the answer to everything. The team with the most guns wins – wasn’t that the final message of Avatar??? We have a government that believes war is the best way to protect the US business interests around the world. We have the government contracting with mercenary companies to go out and act as the thugs of the world, while folks like Dick Cheney profit from those companies. We have a government that condones torture in the name of “democracy”. We don’t have a democracy, we have a plutocracy – the people with the gold are making the rules.

But that’s what happens when we ask for more – and are not content with what we have – and don’t have the capacity to do for ourselves. Sure, an agrarian society has its troubles as well – and we left that way of life centuries ago. I know we can’t go back – we just need to think through what we ask for in the future. And where it will take us.

Kat said...

Very well said. Thank you.

Logophile said...

Jeni~ I do believe the mental health care aspect is the most important. We have got to get this together.

Lime~ We want the quick fix, always. Pass a law and make it go away. Not gonna happen.

Bijoux~ I know families dealing with this too. One woman I know is in her late 50s and her son (almost 30) has put her in the hospital. There are so few options available right now. Prison is not a decent answer and yet it is all we offer.

Actonbell~ I hope, I hope, I hope...

Coop~ I reject your reality and substitute my own. :p
I believe we are not flotsam; we make the tide— we don't just ride it. We choose our entertainments and how violent they will be, we choose our mental health policy and gun laws. We choose our politicians and we choose silence or activism. That is not stuff that happens to us while we sit on our asses unless we CHOOSE to sit on our asses. Our choices— our consequences. It is time to make some changes with the power we do have.

Kat~ Welcome! and thank you.

Jocelyn said...

I found this article to be very smart:

Its point is that there's no such thing as Freedom of Speech when everyone's carrying firearms...