Steps to Something Positive

by admin on December 16, 2012

It’s difficult to write publicly at sad times that lend themselves to private introspection, but because I have a means to speak publicly, I almost feel a civic obligation to do so.

News of the shootings in Connecticut hit home with so many of us.  Between written, televised, and online media outlets, and social media in particular, we’re all aware of the tragedy and the varying responses to it.  In some cases, though, there are responses so much more powerful than any of us know, and I believe it’s my job as a writer who shares pieces of myself with whoever chooses to read, to reach out with thoughts and information that I find valuable.  I hope others will continue to do the same.

As I sit in my living room with my husband and dogs, writing on my own personal blog, enjoying the scent of fresh pine that permeates my home this time of year, with the only light in the room coming from my computer screen, the gray sky outside, and the lights on my Christmas tree, I feel a twinge of guilt for the peace I feel, recognizing how many others are in mourning, in pain, in situations that may prevent them from feeling peace during the holidays – or at any time – ever again.

There are two issues at play here that I think warrant close examination.  There are actually many, many more, but I’ll leave those for other and later discussions.

First, this feeling of devastated helplessness is not exclusive to any specific time or place.  While our hearts are softened and our senses are heightened to questions about the state of humanity and issues of law after a major tragedy, we must recall that there are always tragedies, that people are always suffering, and that there are far more families who deserve our love, support, and compassion than just those involved in such a major moment of devastation.  Simultaneously, we must remember that the suffering of others in no way belittles that being experienced by those involved in major events, or vice versa.

Second, we must remember that feelings of guilt are not productive, but that the urgent feeling of the need to do something is essential and is worth acting upon.  What I think I can best do is help spread an important message that will, hopefully, lead to necessary reform.

We need to examine current institutions for dealing with mental illness and the challenges parents face raising mentally ill children.  Such tragic events as the Newtown massacre spark many varieties of ideological and political debates, but regardless of our views about issues like the role of God in schools and government, metal detectors, and gun control, we all need to carefully examine the institutions that deal with mental health issues in this country, as poor mental health is regularly a large factor in such horrific events.

While I have personal and strong feelings on this subject, my words are far less poignant than some others.  The most touching, pressing account I’ve read so far is “Thinking the Unthinkable,” a brilliant personal testament from a torn mother who desperately wants help she cannot find for her beautiful, brilliant, and frightening young child who suffers from a currently undiagnosed mental illness that leads to violent outbursts.

I ask that you read this dear mother’s words, consider them, and, if you feel compelled, share them and use them to help create a dialogue with those around you that addresses/examines the issue of mental healthcare in the U.S.  I don’t know what will happen from there, but I very much hope that engaging in an open conversation about this difficult, but pressing, subject will be a helpful first step to something positive.

Leave a Comment

Previous post: