A few rambling thoughts here as I wind down my busy, introverted brain for Christmas.
Happy to see there appears to be some conversation about mental illness going on (see my earlier post asking about why this was not an immediate burning topic in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting). However, I am astounded at the disrespect shown by people who judge parents of children with mental illness, with calls to send their kids to prison, remarks about how mental illness is just an excuse, and accusing the parents of being selfish and not protecting their other children. Wow. Live a day in their shoes and you’d be singing a very different tune. It is further proof of how poorly educated we are about it. These critics are skeptical that the mentally ill cannot control their brains, but that is the crux of mental illness. I’m curious if research will ever take us back down the path of brain surgery as a remedy, rather than medication, and certainly rather than confinement. Just as heart surgery has become almost standard procedure for many heart diseases, will there be a better alternative to lobotomies as a surgical remedy for some severe forms of mental illness that can lead patients back as full-functioning members of society? “If they can send a man to the moon…”
The Newtown tragedy certainly gave us perspective on our priorities. We have realized that we can spend billions to send troops to Afghanistan faster than we can get gun control measures in place. A dangerous bridge that might have killed 20 people can be fixed in less time than it takes to get military rifles off America’s streets. More money will be spent on foreign aid than on the support of our own mentally ill and disadvantaged citizens. Through all this, one thing is clear: politics is power. But politics are usually pretty screwed up.
President Obama, always the eloquent orator, said it best at the prayer vigil for Newtown’s shooting victims:
This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.
All the talk of the fiscal cliff, of Obamacare, of Iraq and Afghanistan… None of that matters if we can’t even protect our own children.
I am a fan and supporter of President Obama’s, but in my mind, this will be the true test and defining moment of his second term presidency. I find myself so tired of the rhetoric about gun control. I am thrilled that there is a new sense of urgency and that there has been more action taken now than after events like Virginia Tech and Aurora. But, like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I am really holding Obama to task on this one. For the love of our children – our future – put your money where your mouth is. I love your speeches; they can bring me to tears. But I feel like I’ve heard these same words spoken over and over again in the last five years. I would love you more for your actions and your true leadership now.
Wishing you all a blessedly safe and happy holiday season.